We, Who are Many, are One Body: Fellowship and Partnership in Mission and in the Church
From the Editor:
As a young believer, I thought the Christian life consisted of three components: worship, fellowship, and outreach. As I understood it, the first centered on our relationship with God, the second on our interaction with other Christians, and the third on our dealings with the world. This was a tidy package with everything sensibly organized. Only later did I discover that my well-ordered formulation was out of step with reality, as outreach—evangelism—is an outworking of our worship of God and the horizontal fellowship shared by Christians is based entirely on our vertical fellowship with God—the one cannot exist without the other.
This reality is stated pointedly at the beginning of John’s first Epistle. Speaking for the apostolic band, John proclaims his personal experience of Jesus so that his readers might experience Christian fellowship. His is a clear gospel message. Fellowship exists between believers because of their fellowship with God—Father and Son. This grounding of the faith in the historical experience of Jesus as the Christ and Son of God and its visible expression through a fellowship of people who relate to one another because of their fellowship with God is what distinguishes true Christianity from the kind of religion promoted by John’s opponents and various modern rivals.
This issue of Mission Round Table revolves around koinonia, the biblical concept that encompasses fellowship and partnership and a whole lot more. It is essentially the things we share in common, beginning with Jesus Christ. As Paul Woods’s paper on “Perichoresis and Koinonia” shows, our fellowship springs from our union with God. Though the word may be new to many, perichoresis has long been used in the church to describe the dynamic, interpenetrating, and spiritual relationship that exists between the members of the Trinity. As God reaches out to us through the Son and Holy Spirit, we are drawn into his life and so dazzled that he would include us that we reach out so others can also be involved in the life of God.
- Perichoresis and Koinonia: Implications of our Fellowship with God for the Changing Missionary Endeavour – Paul Woods
- Koinonia: The DNA of “Gospel Partnership” – Joel Christenson
- The Church as God’s Agent: A Study in Reflecting the Trinity – Peter Rowan
- Fellowship, Communion, and Partnership between Local Churches – Mark Leighton
- Growing in Partnership with Thai Church Leaders – David D. Chang
- Comity Agreements: The Not-so-simple Art of Cooperation – Neel Roberts
- An Interview with Michael Griffiths – Don’t Expect a Fairy-tale Ending: The Realities of Biblical Partnership