Finding your Christian Fellowship – The Priority & The Pains
Hello and thanks for stopping by Fellowship in Christ Berkeley (FiCB). If you are new to Berkeley, new to the idea of “Christian Fellowships,” or even new to Christianity in general, I personally want to welcome you and would love to take this opportunity to introduce myself.
My name is Pastor In Kim. I’ve been serving as an ordained pastor at Christ Central Presbyterian Church and at Fellowship in Christ Berkeley for 3 years. I love campus ministry and I love serving in the Bay Area, both in San Francisco and Berkeley. Every Fall I get excited to see what God has in store for us in this new academic year. Even though I haven’t met many of you, I’m praying for you as well as the new challenges you will encounter. Here is my relatively short, personal blog post for you and I pray it will provide some clarity through the fog of all the uncertainties, expectations and fears as an incoming student.
Not too long ago one of my fellow students introduced to me to the word “Fellow-shopping” (It’s on UrbanDictionary – but not quite right). It’s a word that basically means “shopping for fellowships,” and if you’re like me (or Mr. Berns) the idea of shopping can be paralyzing…
If you are a new student or a transfer student, I’m sure you can relate. Just the thought of walking down Sproul plaza can be overwhelming and stressful. Whether if you are given a flyer for a frat, sorority, political organization, or a casual club, settling for a Christian Fellowship can be equally difficult. It’s a simple case of “paradox of choice” meaning the more options you have the harder it is to settle for just ONE.
And at the end of the day you’re probably thinking, “After a long day of consuming, how do you digest all the flyers, papers and free S.W.A.G? In other words how do you process which fellowships are worth my time, effort and energy?” Through my experience here are two basic pointers that I suggest:
1. Know Who/What You’re Joining!
1. Think Critically if you are ‘buying’ what they’re ‘selling.’ Be mindful if any fellowship, organization, club wants YOU as a number, or wants YOU as a person.
2. Think Carefully if this is what you ‘want’ or what you really ‘need’ during your college career. We only have a limited amount of time, energy and social bandwidth. Therefore, prioritize who you are as a Christian first and then as a student second (Read this great article: “You are NOT a Student First”).
Who We Are – At FiCB we believe the necessity and the value of a Christian Fellowship. It’s not only important to participate in community, but also vital for your Christian growth! Even though there are a number of other campus fellowships we believe we are distinct in these ways:
FiCB BELONGS to the Local Church – FiCB is a campus ministry of Christ Central Presbyterian Church. The church is not just a place you go, but it’s also where God’s people are gathered (Deuteronomy 7:6, 1Peter 2:9). God did not just redeem a college fellowship, but He restores a family with different life stages from children, students, working professionals to parents. God wants us to participate in the whole life of the church, not just our few years in college.
FiCB BELIEVES in the Purpose & Mission of Jesus Christ – FiCB believes in the Great Commission (Matthew 28:18-20). Jesus wants college students to PARTICIPATE and PARTNER in making disciples of all nations. We at CCPC believe in the local vision of church planting in the Bay Area & international vision of mission work in Cambodia and other parts of the globe. We believe each student plays a part in the campus at Berkeley and it is our job to equip you to be ambassadors of Christ’s kingdom.
FiCB BUILDS on the Unity and the Diversity of the Body of Christ – FiCB builds up a smaller body of Christ (Romans 12:4-8, 1 Cor. 12:12-31). We are not a large fellowship, but we prioritize the quality of our community over quantity of numbers in the community. Not to say large fellowships do not have a quality of community, but in FiCB you won’t get lost among the crowd, or slip through the cracks within our community. You will also find that we are built up of Christians from all walks of life. FiCB attracts seekers, disciples new-believers and encourages maturing members who are here to search, learn and grow in the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
2. Know What You’re Looking For!
1. Look for a fellowship where you can be edified, NOT entertained: Like a first date, every fellowship wants to make their best first impression. Many fellowships are focused on presentation, performance and production. However not everything that glitters is gold. If your primary reason for a fellowship is for fun, you’re in the wrong place. Entertainment will fade, but being edified will fulfill. Before you attend any fellowship ask yourself, “Is this a place where I am able to grow in my faith? Will I be convicted and challenged in my walk? Will I be encouraged by other brothers and sisters in this fellowship?” A way to figure that out is to:
1. LISTEN to the pastor’s messages – Is it biblical? Is it Christ & Gospel Centered? Is it more about “me,” or more about Jesus?
2. LEARN from other fellow students experience – Ask honest questions. What do you like about your fellowship? What are the strengths/weaknesses of the fellowship?
3. LOOK at the overall campus ministry approach – How are they moving as a whole? Do they balance internal fellowship and external evangelism well?
2. Find a fellowship where I can both feed & lead: Christian growth is both passive and active.
1. Passively, we grow by feeding on the Word of God – Obviously find a place where you can hear God’s Word, be nurtured and protected in your initial stages in college.
2. Actively, we also grow by leading and serving others to know Jesus Christ – Some fellowships can be ‘well-oiled-machines’ where the need and opportunity for servants may be few and far-between. Find a place where you can give back to a fellowship that gave so much to you!
3. Take your time, but don’t take too long: We fear commitment because we are afraid of making the wrong choice. But not committing a fellowship in the short-run might be only hurting yourself in the long-run. The reality is there’s no perfect fellowship, like there’s no “fat-free” ice cream that tastes delicious. While “fellow-shopping,” don’t go into the store wanting chips, but coming out with nothing. Just know that there is no ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ Christian fellowship, but the poorest decision is not committing to one. Like Dad here in Calvin and Hobbes:
If you find a place where you feel welcome, comfortable and see the potential (not perfection) it’s best to chose sooner than later. Remember have a game plan. Know who/what you’re committing to and know what you’re looking for. Don’t waste too much time dabbling, over-analyzing and not committing for the fear of hurting others feelings. Go to the Lord in prayer, ask good questions and He will give you wisdom, guidance, and peace. I’m excited for you and may God guide you, keep you and bless your years at Cal!
Blessings! – Pastor In Kim (P.In.K.)