J. Richard Hackman, a Harvard professor who specialized in group organization, spoke about conflict in groups in the PBS series, This Emotional Life. He gave some surprising advice: Move towards conflict rather than away from it. He believed it was not possible to avoid conflict, and have nice, smooth, harmonious group interaction all the time. Even if it were possible, he did not think it desirable. “It is in the conflict that we really capture the differences of perspective that is the reason for having a group in the first place.”
Fellowship isn’t just good because it supports other ministry. Fellowship is good in its own right. We need a Theology of Fellowship that reminds us that Jesus called us into friendship with him and with each other. Friendship entails being together not only while working together, but while celebrating and relaxing. Fellowship is about deepening relationship.
Remember that feeling of being sick as a kid and your mother bringing you chicken soup and how that soup made you feel better, not just because of the magical properties of chicken soup but because the simple act of being fed made you feel loved? If you were blessed with this care as a child you know the healing power of being fed when you’re sick or in crisis.
Olivia and I are part of a play group in the summers that is connected to our church. We've been going for the past 3 summers, and as we attended our last one of this summer, I reflected on how much this group means to us. To me, especially.