When I was in college, a group of friends and I would go on a monthly basis to a Captain D’s restaurant close to our campus for lunch. We called it, “The Captain D’s Club”. I can remember one day they were going there to eat and I didn’t want to eat there that day. One of the guys in the group said, “Just come for the fellowship.”
On Sunday nights in the fall and spring, my roommate and I watch “The Walking Dead” in the lobby of the building we live in. About five others come to watch it, some because they are fans of the show. Others come, admitting they don’t like the show. I have heard one of them say before, “I don’t like the show. I’m just coming for the fellowship.”
The word “fellowship” has become a term that Christians use to describe any time they gather together. Any time two or more Christians are in a room together, it is called “fellowship.”
However, the Scriptures have a deeper meaning than this. Fellowship in the Bible is not simply a social event. While two Christians eating at Chick-Fil-A can be fellowship, it is not necessarily fellowship.
What is “Fellowship”
The Bible describes the early church days after the ascension of Jesus as being devoted to four things: the apostles’ teaching, fellowship, the breaking of bread, and prayers. (Acts 2:42) But this fellowship is something different than how most Christians speak of it today.
The word “fellowship” comes from the Greek word “Koinonia”. If a person only knows one Greek word, it may be this one. But the meaning of the word is far lost.
Primarily, “Koinonia” has to do with a partnership in something or mutual participation. However, it has even been used to describe sexual intercourse.  Koinonia has to do with a deep intimacy of two or more people working together with a common goal in mind. It is never the same thing as simply socializing over a sports team, fried fish, or “The Walking Dead.” It is much deeper.
What does this mean?
In view of this, how many Christians truly know genuine fellowship? It’s not socializing. It is more of a unity of Spirit that is derived from knowledge of Christ and pursuit of His mission in the world.
Fellowship may include socializing, but it is socializing about the things of God; not things of the world. Fellowship is about growing us and edifying us to be stronger in our faith. It is something that carries on to go somewhere.
Fellowship sanctifies us. In Eph 4, Paul speaks of unity of the body. He speaks of pastors equipping the saints for the work of ministry (which includes fellowship), “until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ” (Eph 4:13)
This is where every Christian is going. God plans to continue doing a work in them until Christ returns. (Phil 1:6) Fellowship helps this happen.
The Goal in Mind
Fellowship is not small talk. It has a vision in mind. Its end goal is closer conformity to Jesus for both the individual Christian and for the church. So the next time you call your lunch at Chick-Fil-A a fellowship, ask yourself the question, “Is this going to make the people I’m with more like Jesus? Will they know God more from this time together?” If it’s not seeking their sanctification and if it’s not about the things of God, it’s not fellowship.