CREATING KOINONIA IS A crucial step in making disciples.
Why use the Greek word? Why not just say “fellowship”? Fellowship is so often used for something casual: a fellowship supper or “coffee ‘n cookies after church”. That could be a step in the right direction but…
We aim for the costly fellowship Jesus talked about when He commanded the twelve to love one another as He had loved them, to lay down their lives for each other and to wash each other’s feet. When we love each other like that, He said, people will know that He is with us! That is koinonia.
A loving community is a result of healthy evangelism. It’s also a powerful tool for evangelism. In some societies (Japan, for example) people are not very interested in truth and have little desire to be reconciled to God. They live in a relational desert, lonely and estranged from one another, so loving communities of believers are attractive.
First come into koinonia with us, John said (1 John 1:3) and then with the Father and his Son. In the fellowship, you’ll discover Jesus. It’s not enough to teach our converts to go to church or join the prayer meeting or Bible study. We build them into a community of faith that their parents and friends would love to be part of.
How? Well, how did Jesus do it? Lots of meals together, lots of boat trips and hiking (ministry trips) together, hospitality with heaps of food, talking and laughing as well as heart stuff, special events and celebrations, overnight stays. Crises met and overcome together!
We’re rightly passionate about making disciples but we must be sure that we create a community that meets the social needs of our new disciples – where they can court, marry, raise their kids and bury their old folk. For the longevity of our churches, we must fulfil the social functions of the religion that our converts where previously part of.
We do focus on the disciples’ obedience but we also focus on how they belonged to a community. People need a community that helps them through the ups and downs of life. We are a loving and forgiving cross-generational family, with diverse gifts and activities that welcomes all kinds of people.
When we create that kind of koinonia, we will make disciples for the long-haul.
Jo and Jenny’s passion is to help a new generation of young people, many sons and daughters, to make disciples of unreached ethnic groups.
Jo and Jenny live in Osaka, Japan.