With Fellowship, Size Matters: Smaller Is Better

“How wonderful it is, how pleasant, for God's people to live together in harmony!” (Psalm 133:1 TEV)

God intends for us to experience life together. The Bible calls this shared experience fellowship.

Today, however, the word has lost most of its biblical meaning. “Fellowship” now usually refers to casual conversation, socializing, food, and fun.

The question, “Where do you fellowship?” means, “Where do you attend church?” “Stay after for fellowship” usually means, “Wait for refreshments.”

Real fellowship is so much more than just showing up at services. It is experiencing life together. It includes unselfish loving, honest sharing, practical serving, sacrificial giving, sympathetic comforting, and all the other “one another” commands found in the New Testament.

When it comes to fellowship, size matters: Smaller is better. You can worship with a crowd, but you can’t fellowship with one.

Once a group becomes larger than about 10 people, someone stops participating — usually the quietest person — and a few people will dominate the group.

Jesus ministered in the context of a small group of disciples. He could have chosen more, but he knew 12 is about the maximum size you can have in a small group if everyone is to participate.

The Body of Christ, like your own body, is really a collection of many small cells. The life of the Body of Christ, like your body, is contained in the cells.

For this reason, every Christian needs to be involved in a small group within their church, whether it is a home fellowship group, a Sunday school class, or a Bible study. This is where real community takes place, not in the big gatherings.

If you think of your church as a ship, the small groups are the lifeboats attached to it. God has made an incredible promise about small groups of believers: “For where two or three have gathered together in My name, I am there in their midst” (Matthew 18:20 NASB).

Talk About It

Do a frank assessment of your small group, and ask these questions:

  • Has our group grown too large for each person to be an active participant?
  • Does our fellowship include "unselfish loving, honest sharing, practical serving, sacrificial giving, and sympathetic comforting?"


Rick Warren is the founding pastor of Saddleback Church in Lake Forest, Calif., one of America's largest and most influential churches. Rick is author of the New York Times bestseller "The Purpose Driven Life." His book, "The Purpose Driven Church," was named one of the 100 Christian books that changed the 20th century. He is also the founder of Pastors.com, a global Internet community for pastors.

This devotional ©2012 by Rick Warren. All rights reserved. Used by permission.

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