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Featured Fellowship vs quiet time

Discussion in 'Christian Advice' started by frater_domus, Aug 28, 2018.

  1. frater_domus

    frater_domus Faith is all that matters. Staff Member Red Team - Moderator Supporter

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    Hey folks. A little bit of an issue came up that I am not sure how to handle. To say that God dropped a nuke on my head would be a bit of understatement.

    After I moved to a new location, I finally decided that I feel ready to join a church community. I met a guy there and he invited me to visit his little fellowship, which meets daily for bible study and discussion. Boy, did I not want to go. Still, I felt compelled to try at least once. I went there with a desire to prove to myself and to them that this is not necessary and the first part was me actually fishing for bible phrases to prove my point that fellowship ain’t all that. Those weren’t the kinds of people I would usually consider meeting, simply for socioeconomic and educational reason.

    However, then the bomb dropped in form of Acts 9:6, as suggested by one of the other six attendants. You see, I am a big fan of Paul, him being somewhat of a personal hero for me. But I never realized that one crucial point. Before he went all out on his own way, he was first told by the church what to do. And even when traveling, he had companions and rejoiced at seeing Christian communities. This passage stung hard, as God showed me the immense wall of pride I have built up and how it was blinding me and made me understand the importance of fellowship. But not only that, He then proceeded to tear down my little wall. All of a sudden I saw those people in a different light and I grew softer towards them. However, it was a very painful, humbling and downright uncomfortable experience, which resulted in dizziness and chills.

    Now that God has opened my eyes and showed me how my compulsion to grow upwards I completely neglected, and even counteracted, to grow closer with others, I am not sure how to deal with that. I know that the fellowship meets daily, but I am not sure that is doable for me due to university. And then there is the question of my other activities and my quiet time. I am not sure how fellowship fits into my life, or rather I am not sure about the changes that my life will need to undergo now. I definitely feel different about the meetings now and I feel more open to visit other groups as well and make it a regular thing. However, I still lack the understanding of how it all fits together, I can’t answer the fellowship vs. quiet time dilemma and the general structure of life. I feel kind of disoriented and I even started to question all my activities that I do and whether it is even alright for me to pursue hobbies such a board games with my friends if it would mean me not being able to attend a fellowship sometimes.

    Do you have any advice?
     
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  2. Fish Catcher Jim

    Fish Catcher Jim Radically Saved

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    Greetings,
    Take it one step at a time. Be willing to be willing to what ever thee Father Desires and let Him work His Perfect way into you.

    Pray about it and honestly seek His Desire over everything you felt or thought.
    Believe me, if you are honestly seeking Him then you will know that you know what to do and everything else simply does not matter.
    Have a great Week
    Blessings
     
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  3. Paidiske

    Paidiske Clara bonam audax Supporter

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    It's my observation that our patterns of life change in different seasons. Being a student, in particular, I found a very difficult season for maintaining healthy patterns!

    I wonder whether it might help for you to develop a rule for yourself; not a rule that says "I must fellowship every day," so much as one that says "I need time in my life for x and y and z, and here's how I'm going to try to make it work"?

    If that idea appeals I can share with you a process for drawing something like that up. To be honest, I work with a rule like that, and I still have never quite managed to fit in everything I think I "should"! But I am closer now than when I didn't try to be intentional about how I divide up my time.
     
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  4. frater_domus

    frater_domus Faith is all that matters. Staff Member Red Team - Moderator Supporter

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    Yes, maybe that will help. I am very unorganized by nature, so a plan will definitely do wonders. But I aso must establish priorities. I can't let hobby time to take away from quiet time and fellowship. However, neither can I do these things continuously without a break, which in turn is helped by socializing and hobbies.

    I must admit though, it feels very uncomfortable that the one community that I found meets every day. It sets a very high bar and I feel bad and downright inferior if I set time apart for other things. I feel like I am an inferior servant of God compared to them.
     
  5. frater_domus

    frater_domus Faith is all that matters. Staff Member Red Team - Moderator Supporter

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    The daily meetings is also the point where I feel attacked. They say that fellowship is of utmost importance and that we need to consult each other and that each one need to do what is best for the community. I feel bad for going to university, because that would mean less time spent in fellowship. That can't be right, can it?
     
  6. Heavenhome

    Heavenhome Well-Known Member Supporter

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    I find my quiet time with God, the most important part of my day.
    I would value that first over everything else
    I don't know how I would go with the structured daily fellowship that you have spoken about.
    I come from the opposite direction. The church I attend has church Sunday mornings only and a Bible Study about once a fortnight that I cannot attend due to the distance and nighttime.
    As you are studying as well you would have to be aware of time that you do have.
    As for hobbies etc, so long as they don't take away from your time of prayer, Bible reading and attending Church, I would think they are fine.
     
  7. Lulav

    Lulav Everyone will give an account Staff Member Administrator CF Staff Trainer Supporter CF Senior Ambassador

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    Don't compare yourself to any in the group. You are new there and they shouldn't expect you to attend daily. Start slowly. Go a couple of times a week. If anyone asks you tell them you're still getting settled in your new place and trying to sort things out. If you find that when there's another meeting and you aren't scheduled for anything else then go.

    You are not making any points with God by how many times you attend. It is what you get out of it that counts and you could get more from once a week than many that do go every day would. It's between you and God not anyone else.
     
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  8. Heavenhome

    Heavenhome Well-Known Member Supporter

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    I just read this post, I have to say I would also feel uncomfortable with this daily fellowship.
    Firstly you are NOT inferior.
    I would ALWAYS consult God rather than man in all things.
    Pray about this and be careful as to me it sounds controlling.
    God bless you and all the best at university.:)
     
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  9. Paidiske

    Paidiske Clara bonam audax Supporter

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    Okay; so the way I learned to do it is to first work out what your priorities are. In my case, they're my prayer life, my marriage and child, my work, and my own personal needs; yours will be different, but the key is to be honest about what they are.

    Then, under each priority, work out what you need to do, if you were giving of your best to that.

    So for example, under my prayer life, I have my personal daily prayer, worshipping with others (weekly), some reading relevant to my own personal growth, seeing a spiritual director every other month or so, and taking a retreat once a year. Then I work out what time it would need to do all those things, and I write it down.

    Then do the same for each priority, and see how all of those things might fit into a week/month/year. NB: Sleep and rest and recreation and social life/friendships are important self-care needs, so don't neglect to give them a time budget too!

    (You can get very involved with this with spreadsheets and timetables and all that, but if it works for you, keep it simple. :) )

    I always find that something doesn't quite fit (usually for me, it's exercise, but there's always something), but at least if you try it this way, you can be sure you're making time for the things which are most important. And don't sacrifice any one thing entirely; better to do a little of each thing you need, than neglect one whole area because it seems less important.

    As for daily meetings, and all that; unless you personally feel convicted by God about that, I'd say that short of living in community with others, that's highly impractical and not likely to be workable. It is not bad or wrong to get an education, and it is not bad or wrong to realise that that's going to mean juggling your other priorities for a season. If other people seriously are pushing you to sacrifice your studies to meet daily with a group, I would be worried about whether that group is really healthy, or is likely to be controlling. Be discerning about whether or not this group is really going to help you grow closer to God or not.
     
  10. frater_domus

    frater_domus Faith is all that matters. Staff Member Red Team - Moderator Supporter

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    I can see that they are earnest and try their to reflect the early church, which is probably why they meet daily. At least, this is what I suspect. However, they value that personal decisions are made as a group and that it benefits the body of Christ. I understand that sentiment, seeing as in the end, we are all brothers and sisters in Christ. However, each one has their own walk with God.

    On the one hand, it does feel weird. On the other hand, it feels like my pride is not allowing me to relinquish control. If I find that my opinion is contrary to theirs, I will start to doubt it, because all of them have walked with God far longer than I have.

    That is the point of my confusion. I can't tell the difference between God's path and my own pride anymore... I do not want to argue that the meeting was a mistake. It was very needed that show me the hardness within and how my own pride has led me to intolerenace. However, now I must carry on and see what to do with this knowledge.

    Also, speaking privately and from the heart now, they feel a little different from many other Christians. I am not sure whether it is just my perception or whether there's something else. Maybe it is because they have this strong view of community, maybe it is because they somehow have the time to meet 4-5 hours every day. Maybe it is because some of them visit different services from time to time to look for lonely people and invite them to visit their fellowship.
    Again, I am not sure whether I am just paranoid. I suppose I will need to wait and see. While no one has yet said anything about my ow time distribution, their way of wanting to make decisions as a group seemed a bit off. But then again, maybe it is just my pride.

    Seriously, I need to pray extra time about it...
     
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  11. Paidiske

    Paidiske Clara bonam audax Supporter

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    Hmm. That's an extraordinary time commitment.

    I wonder, would it be worth seeing a spiritual director to get some help (and wise outside perspective) in looking at all of this?
     
  12. frater_domus

    frater_domus Faith is all that matters. Staff Member Red Team - Moderator Supporter

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    I am talking with my local pastor about it. He is away right now, but we are writing with each other. I will also see whether there is someone else of the church elders that I can contact.

    Edit: I must admit, I definitely feel far better talking to the pastor about it than with that fellowship.
     
  13. AnnaDeborah

    AnnaDeborah Well-Known Member

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    Praise the Lord for His work in your life showing you the importance of fellowship! Time spent alone with the Lord and time spent with others are both important (and both are mentioned in the Bible). But there does not have to be a 'rule' about how often you meet.

    I agree that this new group does come across as a little controlling in your posts, so it's good that you are able to get some counsel from other believers in the area. Just because this group has been used by the Lord to convict you of an area in your life that was wrong, it doesn't mean they are right in all they do. Keep praying, and God will guide you.
     
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  14. frater_domus

    frater_domus Faith is all that matters. Staff Member Red Team - Moderator Supporter

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    I have already agreed to come today. However, thinking more clearly now, I have my reservations. Do you think it is a good idea to go today from 7pm to 10pm max or wait and first talk to a pastor or a church elder about it and maybe even wait until September until the bible study group of the local church starts? On the one hand, I feel bad declining invitations, especially after having that kind of experience from God. On the other hand, I feel somewhat pushed and still not at ease about the whole issue.
     
  15. Paidiske

    Paidiske Clara bonam audax Supporter

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    How much do you know about this group? With whom are they affiliated? What are their governance structures? How do they manage their finances? And so on.

    If in doubt, I'd ask some questions and look carefully to see if everything seems to be transparent and ethical.
     
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  16. Heavenhome

    Heavenhome Well-Known Member Supporter

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    I would pray and rely on the Holy Spirit to guide you as I believe is happening now. There is nothing wrong in waiting to talk to your Pastor or elder.
    You know in your heart if your hesitation in going in wholeheartedly with this group is just you or that you have been given spiritual discernment which I believe you have.

    I have found when something is right, even if I am a bit nervous with the situation, I will have peace from God. Just as when I was once in what turned out to be in a questionable group in a church I once attended I never felt entirely comfortable until I left. At the time I thought it was so great to be in this group as I didn't mix easily but thanks be to our wonderful God, He never gave me real peace until I was obedient to the prompting of the Holy Spirit. He never leaves His children, even if we take a while to "get it"!;)
     
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  17. frater_domus

    frater_domus Faith is all that matters. Staff Member Red Team - Moderator Supporter

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    Literally nothing. They are not a formal group, it would seem. The people seem to have little in common other than their faith in Christ and maybe their socioeconomic standing. They meet at someone's home and collectively decide what issues they want to explore. There is no apparent leadership. Unless it is the most ingenious con in history, I think they are just a bunch of people who meet up.

    Thinking about it, I do not think there is an ulterior motive or even anything shady about it. They are just a group of believers. I think, the issue is that this particular fellowship has adopted a group culture that is beneficial to them but may not be good for me at the present time, given my somewhat diverging views, my schedule and the fact that it would be a way to big of a change for me right now.
    To echo what the pastor has written me: "If the Lord brings you into a situation where you can have a healthy dose of self-reflection, great, but please don’t allow that healthy dose of self-reflection lead to an unhealthy change in all of your behaviors."

    He also pointed me to another church elder. I got in touch and we will be meeting tomorrow.
     
  18. frater_domus

    frater_domus Faith is all that matters. Staff Member Red Team - Moderator Supporter

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    Well, that was an uncomfortable meeting if I ever experienced one. I met up today, because I didn't want to say these things over the phone.
    I thanked them for the meeting yesterday and how God used them to reveal a major flaw within myself.
    Then I told them, I would prefer to tackle the issue of fellowship at a slower pace within a community I feel more comfortable with, namely the Baptist church I attend. I explained that because of that meeting I became much more open to the idea of fellowship and I that am looking for joining the activities at my church.

    They did not take it openly, or well for that matter. They said it was my decision, but whether I was certain that this decision is of God. They see it as a step back. I think it is a fairly natural reaction.
    However, one thing was, in my opinion, not justified or called for. They said that if I consult it with others, they will agree with me that taking it slower is better, because it is more comfortable and that comfortable is not better. I asked directly whether they think their community is better than others. He answered that "better" was the wrong word, but that they believed that the bible is very clear cut in what it says and that people these days seek comfort over truth.
    I did not have the heart to say that my decision was not based on escaping trials but because I felt pressured and uncomfortable with them as a group.

    Now, it is easy to condemn them for indirectly badmouthing other churches and communities, but I still think there is nothing shady. I think they are earnest, but I also feel like it may be a case of a beam in the eye. They did not rejoice that they could help and that I was now actively seeking a community I fit in. They lamented the fact that I was going against God's word and making a step back.

    I think they were genuinely concerned. I appreciate that. But I also think that they may be having a few different ideas than many others I have talked to.

    The worst part though is that they managed to make me feel guilty, uncomfortable yet again and downright a little bit dirty.

    Once again, I am not sure how to react. Is there something in the bible regarding that?
     
    Last edited: Aug 28, 2018
  19. AnnaDeborah

    AnnaDeborah Well-Known Member

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    To start with you went to a meeting you didn't want to go to because you felt 'compelled' and while there you've been convicted of something wrong in your own life which was very painful and humbling. You've also been willing to admit you're wrong and are putting it right, which takes humility. This demonstrates that you are open to the Holy Spirit's leading and respond to His convicting you of wrong.

    You now feel 'uncomfortable' in this group again, but I sense from your posts that this is a different type of 'uncomfortable' - it's not that you feel convicted to stay, more that you feel under pressure from people in the group. So I think this may be a type of 'uncomfortable' that is man-made, not Spirit-led.

    Bring it to the Lord and ask Him to confirm the right course of action. This group has been used to being you nearer to God, but it is still a group made up of fallible human beings - they will not be right about everything, so feeling grateful for their help so far does not mean you must follow what they say in all things.

    I don't know if this helps, but I remember hearing a sermon on the difference between conviction and condemnation in the Christian life. It said that conviction is from the Holy Spirit and drives us toward God, while condemnation is from the enemy and drives us down and away from God. So if what you are feeling is condemnation, ignore it because there is now NO condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus (Romans 8 v 1)
     
  20. frater_domus

    frater_domus Faith is all that matters. Staff Member Red Team - Moderator Supporter

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    @AnnaDeborah Thank you. This was encouraging :) This is a very new situation for me, namely the disagreement within the body of Christ. I do not know how to deal with it. It seems the early church wasn't as fractured as we are today, were they? I know Paul and Barnabas had a disagreement and went their separate ways. Still, I fear that this is a right and wrong situation and that one of us is right and the other wrong. Neither scenario is good.

    However, I also understand this to be a lesson from the Lord and I pray that I will learn the right thing.
     
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