Disciple Heritage Fellowship of North Carolina is a voluntary affiliation of autonomous churches who agree to join together for the purpose of Christian fellowship, mutual support, shared Christian ministry, and the proclamation of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. As a fellowship, we shall not be accountable to any other ecclesiastical or denominational body.
The question arises; “why should we belong to a fellowship.” The following points offer thoughts on this question:
1. First of all, a fellowship is a voluntary association of autonomous, like-minded congregations and church leaders. The churches are not bound to one another by a denominational structure directed by a church hierarchy.
2. The preacher in Ecclesiastes 4:12 (NKJV) says; “Though one may be overpowered by another, two can withstand him. And a threefold cord is not quickly broken.” The short of it is that there is strength in numbers. The early churches sought fellowship with each other, especially for mutual encouragement in the faith. The early church existed in a hostile world, and it is much the same today. In Acts 20:29 the Apostle Paul warned that after his departure that “savage wolves” would come in and “not spare the flock.” The fellowship of other churches can provide added strength during troubling times.
3. Proverbs 27:17 (NKJV) says; “As iron sharpens iron, so a man sharpens the countenance of his friend.” The idea is that we are better and stronger as we are challenged and encouraged by one another in ministry. Just as cutting tools are made bright and sharp by rubbing them against a file, so a church can be challenged to new heights by associating with other churches.
4. In 1 Cor. 16:1 we find Paul giving instructions for the “collection for God’s people,” referring to the offering that was being collected by the Gentile churches for the poor Jewish Christians in Jerusalem. The early churches were able to join forces to more effectively provide for outreach ministries. A fellowship allows churches in relationship to join together to support worthy needs and causes of mutual concern.
5. Colossians 1:3-4 says; “We always thank God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, when we pray for you, 4 because we have heard of your faith in Christ Jesus and of the love you have for all the saints.” The churches were strengthened by the news of sister churches that were growing in the faith. A fellowship provides a network of related churches that need the encouragement from those that are spiritually prospering. Churches can learn and grow and even persevere from the example of others.
6. Being a part of fellowship provides the local church a greater vision and understanding of the big “C” church. By providing a shared identity and opportunities for fellowship with other churches, church members can learn what it means to be a part of something greater than themselves. A fellowship enables church members to realize that the church of Jesus Christ consists of one body and that we need one another.
7. Acts 2:42-47 provides the example of a spirit filled, worshipping, praying, and disciple making church fellowship. A fellowship provides a framework that will encourage, strengthen, and lift up the mission of the church which is to foster healthy churches that are in turn making disciples of Jesus Christ.
- 8. A fellowship provides the opportunity for churches to share in educational experiences that can strengthen the greater church, as well as providing opportunities for worship and celebration. A fellowship provides the church the opportunity to not only gather together, but to do ministry together and therefore experience real Christian community and service, which is defined in the Greek as “koinonia.” Fellowship is the indispensable means of accomplishing the God-given purpose of the church.
9. Matthew 28:18-20, called “The Great Commission” is the heart and work of the whole church. A fellowship provides the opportunity to share successful approaches to discipleship and Christian education, thereby preparing and encouraging other churches.