The “Right” Church
by Robert F. Turner

A brother told me his friend asked if the church of which he was a member was the true church. The brother is an honest, conscientious man, and he said he couldn’t tell his friend the church of which he was a member was perfect. He knew, and the friend knew, they had problems and imperfections. So he told the friend it was the nearest thing to “right” of which he knew. Is this the best approach?

          The “nearest thing to right” says I know what is “right,” but either I can not find—perhaps believe there does not exist—one that measures up; or I am willing to settle for some less than what I know should be. Perhaps some of our readers believe he should have said he was a member of the church of Christ and that is the “true church.” He could   have said it; and launched into the time of its establishment, its name, its government and the other characteristics usually used for identification. But his Querist referred to the local church of that community, and was smart enough to know that proving the features of the 1st century church is not proving this local church qualifies.

          I suggested he discuss the church of the NT records from two angles: the IDEAL, or the perfect church one might envision by studying what is approved and disapproved of God. Then, point out that the actual congregations of the 1st century were not perfectly aligned with this ideal. In fact, we learn what Christ desired by seeing their errors corrected, as well as by approved examples, etc. Then, drive this home! Anything short of a sincere, all-out endeavor to be and do what Christ wants us to be and do, is not quite good enough. Tell your friend you have done what you believe God’s word teaches one must do to become a child of God. And you are in fellowship with other like children, who are endeavoring to work and worship as God’s word directs. Ask him to examine your faith and practices in the light of God’s word. If you can show him you welcome constructive criticism, will correct any errors he might find, are ever cognizant of weakness and need to improve, and are praying for forgiveness and strength to do better— brother, you have shown him the “right” church. If you can’t stand such a test, perhaps you will CHANGE THE SUBJECT!!

What is “fellowship”?
by David Smitherman

The early disciples “continued steadfastly in ….fellowship” (Acts 2:42). And, this “constant attention” to fellowship is a practice of our first century brethren what we would do well to imitate. But what is involved in “fellowship,” especially fellowship with a local church?

          Fellowship is not “placing membership” or having one’s name “on the roll.” Nor should it be equated with one’s bodily presence in an assembly. In spite of these things, there are many brethren who are not in fellowship with the congregation they claim to be a part of.

          The prefix “fellow” means being a partner, having or sharing in common with others (Philemon 17). Christians are those who share a common faith (Tit.1:4), salvation (Jude 3), calling (Heb.3:1), nature (2.Pet.1:4), and relationship (Eph.3:6).

          But simply having things in common with others does not make one “in fellowship” with them. The suffix “ship” suggests a “state, condition, quality” that must be attained and maintained by activity. Extending the “right hand of fellowship” (Gal.2:9) and jointly participating with others in activities that we all have a common interest brings us into true fellowship. There must likewise be a “fellowship of the spirit” (Phil. 2:1) or disposition. We must all “will” the same things.

          A local church is such a fellowship of saints: those with common interests, having a united spirit, and jointly working together in providing for various activities (Phil. 1:1, 5; 4:10-18).

          In the work of the church do I “aid” my “fellows” in their scriptural endeavors to the extent of my ability? Do I “share” my “resources” (time, talents, money, etc.) with them as they work to accomplish their goals?

          In the assemblies of the church do I seek to learn from the teaching (Gal.6:6)? As prayer is offered do I become of “one spirit” with the one expressing thoughts to God (1.Cor.14:16)? Do I speak to my brethren in song and make melody in my heart to God (Eph.5:19)? And when the death of Christ is remembered, do I partake in a “worthy manner” (1. Cor.11:27)?

          Isn’t it strange that brethren can believe they are still in fellowship with a local church even though they seldom, if ever, attend the assemblies, refuse to participate in the assemblies they do attend, or fail to “lend a hand” in the various programs of work being carried on?

          Brethren, whenever we withdraw our “spirits” (and we are no longer interested in what is being done), or when our participation in the work ceases because we have deliberately withdrawn it, then we have withdrawn our fellowship. How many assemblies we attend, or our names being in the directory means nothing.

Brethren, let us be actively interested and involved in the work of the local church that we may truly continue steadfastly in fellowship.™