A year-long series of weekly essays re-imagining the Reforming Church. This is not a scholarly effort, crafting neither an ecclesiastical nor a theological system. Rather, it is simply a futurist’s snapshot – it is how I imagine the church proceeding forward through the next decades in the tradition of the Reformation.
“Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.” – Philippians 1:2
Koinonia is the transliterated form of the Greek word κοινωνία which appears in the New Testament something like 20 times. It is variously translated as community, fellowship, communion, sharing, even contribution, and participation, depending on which English translation of the Bible is used. Fundamentally, it describes life within the Fellowship of the Followers of the Way. But more than that, it is an orientation of community living into the image of community with Jesus Christ.
In its ideal form, the Fellowship of the Followers of the Way is a community of prayer, service, and sharing within a covenant of equality and peace in which all but its essential assets designated for life, family, food, and home are committed to service in the name of Jesus Christ.
The Reforming Church is committed to living fully in the world, without withdrawing, yet at the same time it is committed to a life together without respect to sex, age, wealth, position, or power, and all its resources are directed towards service in the community and the world in the name of Jesus Christ.
Respecting family integrity, community in koinonia is not a cultic withdrawal, nor a community in which all members find all their services in the community itself. Koinonia community does not mean the community members will necessarily find their barber or piano teacher in the community, for example. Koinonia is not an ascetic community, and neither is koinonia an autocracy nor is it dependent on a charismatic leader. It is instead, the Followers of the Way of Jesus Christ living in a democratic community in which they are intentional about reaching out beyond themselves in every enterprise.
Koinonia it is a joyful community in which members find encouragement to share, to serve, to recover, and to take heart.
In the final analysis, I must admit, I don’t really know what koinonia looks like. I know there are some who have made passable models; but as to the nuts and bolts of forming such a community, my futurist snap shot remains out of focus. As koinonia is a practice that has few successful antecedents, I am mostly dependent on the prophetic and apostolic vision of which we get only a glimpse in Acts 2:43-47 and Acts 4:32-37.
Experimental communities of koinonia are on the table for the Reforming Church. Is it a viable model for today and for the church in every age? Or was it a model unique to the specific context of the first-century church? However the model shapes up, in koinonia the point and the focus is the witness of the good news of Jesus Christ and his hope for the world.
“To the only wise God, through Jesus Christ, to whom be the glory forever!” – Romans 16:27