What on Earth is "KOINONIA"? -by Andrew Strom. The Greek word 'Koinonia' is the word that refers to the deep "fellowship" that the early Christians had together. It is something that many Christians today long for - and it really is the essence of 'church life' in the Bible. But to a very large degree the modern church seems to have lost it. When we have a 'service' or meeting today, where everyone comes and sits in rows facing the front, sings some songs and listens to the sermon, then says "Bless you" to a few people and goes home - that is far from true 'koinonia'. Even in quite a few cell groups and house meetings today, there is little deep fellowship. -It is more like a miniature "church service" - where a few people do all the 'ministry' and the rest sit around and watch. We need to realize that 'koinonia' was at the very center of the way the early church lived out their lives. Without this, I do not believe that we truly have "church" at all. We may have a 'meeting' but we do not have deep fellowship. And without this, we really have nothing. 'Koinonia' relies on one thing above all others. It relies on a group of people coming together who truly are "washed-in-the-blood", Spirit-filled people. Because I believe that this kind of deep fellowship and joy and unity involves a "heart connection" on a real spiritual level - so the Holy Spirit can truly flow. But the 'koinonia' of the early church involved other things, too. For one thing, it is clear that in their "house to house" meetings they gathered around a MEAL and also around the LORD'S SUPPER. I have a whole teaching on why the Lord's Supper is so much more important than we are led to believe today - but there is no space for that here. Suffice it to say, that sharing a meal together was very important - it is a key to true 'koinonia'. And the early Christians partook of communion EVERY DAY in their homes - that is how important it was to them. Now, do you have to be a "special person" or an Elder to pray a blessing over communion and break bread with other believers in your home? -Not at all. We are ALL "kings and priests". We should ALL be doing this kind of thing. We need to realize how important it is to break bread together with our families, our prayer groups, our house-fellowships and so-on. I don't believe we will ever get back to true New Testament 'koinonia' unless we do this. The other thing they did in their house meetings (-which were really their main 'fellowship' meetings) was that they gave room and encouraged EACH PERSON to move in the gifts of the Holy Spirit. This was not a "one man band" - far from it! Every single Spirit-filled believer was valued for who they were, and the giftings that they had. Read this very carefully: 1 Cor 14:26- "When you come together, EVERYONE has a hymn, or a word of instruction, a revelation, a tongue or an interpretation. All of these things MUST be done for the strengthening of the church." (NIV). (Remember, this kind of meeting is quite different from the large open-air meetings that the apostles held. What we are talking about here are the more intimate "home fellowships" that they had). Notice too how different this is from the 'discussion' groups and Bible Studies that we often have today. This was a home meeting very deliberately aimed at seeing the Holy Spirit move and the members of the Body all ministering to one another in spiritual gifts. I believe we have to very consciously go down this path if we want to see this happen in our meetings. New believers need to be taught how to move in the gifts and there needs to be an environment where this is "normal". We need to choose whether we are just going to sit around 'discussing' things or whether we are going to invite the Holy Spirit to take charge. Notice that Paul says 'EVERYONE' should be using their spiritual gifts in these meetings and that it is very important that ALL these giftings come forth. Spiritual songs, teaching, prophecies, tongues and interpretation - all these kinds of things. And I'm sure if there were sick or oppressed people present then there would be prayer for them also. This was a real "Holy Spirit" meeting, and to them it was "church as normal"! It seems that these house-fellowships would have had 'elders' to guide things, and to step in if things got out of hand or if someone was bringing in deception. But I believe the role of an elder is more-or-less a "parenting" role. -Keen to see God's children step out and flow in spiritual gifts and to grow up in the faith. I do not believe a true 'elder' would dominate such house meetings, but rather encourage others to come forward as much as possible. However, it certainly is his role to teach where necessary. Imagine what it would be like if all our house-meetings were like this today. Imagine if we shared a "pot-luck" meal together, then partook of the Lord's Supper together - and then moved into a time where the members of the body all ministered to one another in spiritual gifts. While we are all in prayer, there might be tongues and interpretation or prophecies coming forth. There might be spiritual songs or words of knowledge. Someone might share a testimony or a prayer-need or a word of teaching. What we are doing in such a setting is freeing the Holy Spirit to flow and move through us as He wills. And this is exactly what it was like to be part of the early church. So what are we waiting for?? God bless you, my friends! Kindest regards in Christ, Andrew Strom.