A Leap of Faith: Do you remember the part in the Indiana Jones movie “The Last Crusade” where Indiana repeated his father’s words to himself, “Only in the leap from the lion’s head will he prove his worth” as he was about to step out onto the invisible bridge? Well, sometimes it takes a lot of trust and faith in YeHoVaH to actually step up to the plate and take a swing at the destiny that He has for us.
The first step in starting a fellowship is actually mustering up enough confidence, faith, and belief that you are a winner and you can accomplish all things through the Messiah (Philippians 4:13). I have heard from many of you who were considering starting a new fellowship that you just didn’t feel qualified. Some of the most common phrases have been:
“I was thinking of starting a fellowship but I don’t have a theological degree or anything like that!”
“There is not fellowship in my area and I was thinking of starting one but I’m not a scholar and don’t even know where to start.”
“I was wondering How to Start a Fellowship: I’m a little nervous because I do not have any formal training.”
Although modern day churches, denominations, and clergy would require you to go through some sort of certification class or training seminar before starting a home group or planting a church, Yeshua made it clear that what he is looking for is a clean vessel and a willing and humble heart. Matthew 28:19 states, “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations…!” Yeshua also goes on to say, “Truly, truly, I say to you, he who believes in Me, the works that I do, he will do also; and greater works than these he will do; because I go to the Father.”
According to Yeshua, a resume, college transcript, or training certification is not required to work for him, however, a clean vessel and a willing and humble heart that acknowledges that He is Messiah and that He goes to the Father for us to accomplish his will on earth through us is what qualifies you. Take a moment and re-examine your qualifications and know that if you “Leap from the Lion’s head” he will make a path for you even in the most impossible circumstance.
Finding Your Purpose: One of the most important elements of getting together with a group of fellow believers and potential converts is to know the purpose of your group/gathering.
Hebrews 10:23-25 (ESV) Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful. And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.
Scripture is clear in many instances that holy convocations are important to YHVH, however, scripture also gives a purpose for the holy convocation which continually proves to be more than cookies and coffee. It is important that you define the boundaries as well as the purpose of your home fellowship.
During the implementation stages of your fellowship, get together with your core leaders and ask the following questions:
- What is the purpose of our gathering?
- Is our fellowship open to the public or is it going to be invitation only?
- Who is allowed to invite people?
- Are non-believers welcome or is our fellowship only for like-minded believers?
- Are we going to focus on outreach and evangelism?
- What percentage of our meetings will be fellowship and what percentage will be study time?
- What are the “non-negotiables” in our fellowship (ex: Yeshua is Messiah, Saturday Sabbath Observance, Aviv Barley Calendar and Feast Day Observance, Etc.)
It is important to answer these questions in order to build a solid foundation for your fellowship. Be encouraged and work through the tough questions early on. Starting a fellowship is a lot like the courting process. You want to get all the tough questions out of the way before the marriage ceremony. This sets the stage for a solid group that can work together and truly have a positive impact on the people who attend and the community as a whole.
Establish Your Borders and Gates: Setting the boundaries of your fellowship or as I like to call them “Borders and Gates” is a very big part of the process. Taking the time to establish some expectations and boundaries when it comes to starting your fellowship is THE best thing you could possibly do.
Every fellowship is going to look different and feel different so don’t feel like you have to look, act, and feel like another fellowship or congregation, however, different social situations create different levels of expectations so you have to think through these from the start with your leadership team.
A majority of fellowships should start in homes since the first phase of building a fellowship is building relationships. There is no better way to build relationships than in your home with food, fellowship, coffee, encouragement, and fun. Many scholars would suggest that breaking bread was (2,000 years ago) and still is the most effective way to build relationship and raise up disciples in the faith.
Finally, always remember that your home is your personal space so here are some of the things you need to establish in regards to expectations and boundaries:
What time do you meet?
- Are you sharing a meal or snacks?
- If you are sharing a meal or snacks, who should bring what?
- What is the max capacity of the house you are meeting in?
- What are the rules and behavioral expectations for the host home or fellowship hall?
- How do you plan to handle disorderly or disruptive conduct?
- It is good to have a team of people that have an action plan for people who need to be removed or escorted away from the gathering. This is an unusual event but is something you should always be prepared for.
- Set a time for everyone to arrive that gives you buffer room between arrival and actual start time. This allows time for life to happen and for people to show up a little past the arrive time but not miss any of the fellowship activities.
- If your group meets in rotating homes, make sure to have some basic ground rules for the fellowship but also leave room for individuality within the borders and gates of each home.
First impressions are everything, so making a good first impression is what will keep people coming back time and time again. Always put respect at the forefront of everything you do so that relationships are not jeopardized and trust is not compromised. Most importantly, DON’T BE AFRAID TO HAVE FUN.