Fellowship is defined as a the gathering of people with a similar interest or cause. Church fellowship helps to encourage our talents, abilities, faith, understanding of the holy word, while also providing comfort, compassion and hope to each other in times of need. Opportunities to join in fellowship activities within a church setting are many, including small groups, church wide activities, choir, and children & youth programs.f
Many churches have a variety of groups that meet on a regular occurrence. These groups help strengthen relationships among members. They are often small in size which helps develop and grow personal relationships.
Churches provide members, guests and people in the community many opportunities. People can grown in their understanding of one another from generational, cultural and spiritual aspects while also learning new talents, hobbies and opportunities.
Imagine how much a difference a person can make in your life much less a dozen or more. Imagine how much you might be enriched by meeting new people. Imagine the lives you provide hope for by being part of a vibrant fellowship.
Churches are an example of what urban sociologist Ray Oldenburg calls a "third place." Third places are spaces where people spend time between their first and second places—home and work, respectively. Third places serve as community builders. This means that they're locations where, in the case of churches, people can share their worries, rejoice, and renew together.
But beyond the more obvious, easily identified, and more religion-oriented roles churches play, their existence serves a vital, and arguably inimitable, social and civic function
Singing has been central to religion and rituals as a way of connecting communities since ancient times. Being part of a group working towards a shared endeavor, can fulfill this human need for belonging and union. The fellowship of being part of church choir has many positive aspects, including to members of the choir, people part of the worship service and people in the community.
A choir is simply not a collection of people providing music to members of the congregation. Rather music is part of the worship service, enhancing the experience of the message being delivered. Throughout the book of Psalms there are many passages encouraging people to sing praises to God. Having a choir leading the congregation in moments of hymnal praise encourages participation of members.
Church Choir helps develop friendships within members of a choir and also build friendships with people in the church and community being served. Dr. Jonathan Palant, Minister of Music at Kessler Park United Methodist Church in Dallas, Texas mentions the following about choir - "By singing in a choir, music becomes the conduit that brings us together in a very safe and equal environment,"
Professor Grenville Hancox, Director of the Sidney de Haan Research Centre for Arts and Health in Kent, has done extensive research on the benefits of choral singing on psychological well-being. Studies have shown that the mental health benefits of choral singing include enhanced brain function, strengthened feelings of togetherness, and the release of endorphins and oxytocin resulting in reduced stress and depression.
Just as adults enjoy fellowship among others, the relationships youth make are very important and can last a lifetime. Youth and Children programs at church provide a safe environment for communication, mentoring opportunities, and team work across different ages within a narrow range. These activities and bonding helps to foster strong relationships. Both our daughters had the benefits of looking up to older youth in our church as they matured and then in return supported activities of the younger children through mentor and bible study activities.
Perhaps the most important trait a youth ministry provides is a safe place when teens need it. Patricia from Smart Church Management mentions the following about Youth Fellowship -
"Teenagers long to be together. An effective youth program provides a safe place where kids can hang out and interact with kids their own age.
This includes providing an environment where they can experience life together – both the highs and lows. Kids use these friendships to validate that they are not alone in their challenges and that there are other kids who care."
Active youth programs further the enjoyment children can get from going to church. Members of a children and youth group are generally tight-knit. Most kids won’t dread going to church if it’s where their friends are. They begin to look forward to their church experiences. They know they’ll be surrounded by people and peers who care about them and who they can relate to.
In a world filled with social media, it can be difficult to convey the sense of giving to our children. According to Patricia from Smart Church Management, "Kids need to learn that it is not all about them. Youth programs should provide opportunities to serve. Whether that is serving in children’s church, supporting the youth program or participating in helping the elderly – kids need an avenue to serve others."
Many youth programs encourage and help our youth to understand the importance of being mission focused; giving of their time, their patience, their knowledge while working along side others to care for those in need.