“Fellowship means there’s more than one fellow in the ship.”
We recently held our International Youth and Young Adult Convention, and just concluded our International Holy Convocation. What a time we had at both conferences! We were blessed to have our youth and young adults to serve in music ministry for the final night of the convocation. We had choir members from as far north as Boston and as far south as North Carolina to join in ministry for this night. While the ministry was great, I think one of the best parts about our time together at both conferences was the genuine fellowship and love felt among us all.
The importance of fellowship in ministry is often underrated. We need fellowship with each other in order to know one another. When you know someone, it helps you to understand them and work with them better. Think about this simple example.
You walk into a crowded room. You’re trying to maneuver your way through the room. As you’re sliding between people to get across the room, you get to one person with their back to you that you can’t seem to get by as carefully, so you say politely but very clearly, “Excuse me”. They don’t respond. They don’t move. You assume that they are ignoring you, since every other person you said it to kindly moved out of your way, so you brush past them, nudging them gently but purposely to let them know that you aren’t pleased with them ignoring you. As you walk past them, pretty ticked at their supposed rudeness, you turn around to give them a stern look, only to find out that this is a longtime friend of yours, with, let’s say, a new haircut, who just so happens to be hard of hearing. Changes the entire perspective huh? Knowing the person who is obstructing your path gives you a different perspective on why they could not be responding to your usual methods. The same is true in our interactions with others, specifically in ministry.
The better we know each other, the more we know how to deal with one another in somewhat “tight” circumstances. For the deaf friend in the scenario, an audible request wasn’t going to do the trick. So because you know them, you know that a gentle touch on the shoulder was needed. You had to change your method of communication slightly, but you still got the same desired outcome. Our knowledge of each other is important in all forms of ministry relationships: leader to leader, leader to member, member to leader, and member to member.
A couple of thought-provoking questions:
- How has my lack of knowledge of the people I work with in ministry impacted my success in effective communication and working with them?
- How can I better get to know those who I work with in ministry in hopes of fostering better understanding and relationship?
In answer to the latter question, here’s a few ideas of fellowship opportunities you can do, outside of rehearsal and ministry time, to build relationship, respect, and friendship. This list isn’t exhaustive. Some of these I have actually done, and some of these are things that I just think are good ideas for fellowship.
We can always eat, right? So why not take an hour or two to sit down, break bread, and talk about anything that comes to mind. You learn a lot about people by just listening to them talk.
Carpool or take chartered transportation to a nearby beach or amusement park. Have some ideas of things to do together, but give people the freedom to form their own groups and explore the location.
This may seem very unorthodox for a ministry trip, but, especially for younger or vibrant groups, this can be an unlikely fun time. It takes your mind off of issues (internally or individually) and gives you an outlet to relieve some stress in a productive way. (I just made laser tag sound deep…)
One of my choirs implemented prayer partners that switch each month. Each person is supposed to pair up with another choir member, share a list of 3 prayer requests, pray individually for each other throughout the week, and then meet together (in person or on the phone) on Saturday before ministry to pray together for one another’s needs.
There’s nothing more rewarding than taking part in something that benefits those who need it most. Pick a day and go minister to residents in a nursing home, or go to a shelter and serve food, and while you’re there, sing a number or two. Music lifts spirits.
“Behold, how good and pleasant it is when brothers dwell in unity!” – Psalm 133:1