One of the prerequisite skills for fellowship is the ability to listen. In this, we need to learn to model Jesus, who is always listening attentively to and for us.
Christians who intentionally want to develop their fellowship skills will focus on those they are with, giving them their full attention and responding only when prompted to.
Cheap listening, which is much easier, is often worse than no listening. Consider these characteristics of cheap listening:
- We listen with obvious impatience waiting for the moment we can speak and share our wisdom or story. It is all about us. Our listening and responses communicate a disdain for someone else’s story, pain, insights or joy.
- We pay attention only long enough to develop a counter-argument; people often listen with an agenda, to sell or petition or seduce. Seldom is there a deep, open-hearted, non judging reception of the other. By contrast, if someone truly listens to me, my spirit begins to expand.
2. Contact With Other Christians
We sometimes presume that maturing means becoming independent. Mature Christians are never “Lone Rangers.” Maturity, especially spiritual maturity, means developing a mutual dependence with close friends. We have each other’s backs. We protect each other’s weaknesses. We help with each other’s blind spots. We share strengths and protect weaknesses. That’s maturity. No one can make it alone, only the immature assume otherwise.
The author of the book of Hebrews tells us to:
. . . not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.
Hebrews 10:253. Reciprocation Begets Appreciation
When we fellowship with others, we allow ourselves to be served by others and we have the privilege of serving each other. Since we all have a part to play in the big picture of God’s kingdom, we are each allowed to practice the unique mixture of gifts, talents, passion and personality that God has given us. Watching others thrive and being allowed to thrive ourselves is a wonderful by-product of this discipline.
4. Focus on the Goal of Improved Fellowship with the Father
When the time spent with other believers allows us to see God more often in our daily actions and interactions, we begin to communicate with Him and about Him more fully.
For more on developing fellowship, check out Ascending Leaders' free downloads tab and select the six-session small-group experience titled Community: Inviting Relationship.