|Photo Credit: Silveira Neto, Flickr Creative Commons|
We use “e” all over the place today. We speak of things such as eMail, eBanking, and eBooks all the time. Some people have even “met” spouses on eDating networks. We know what these are; they refer to electronic activities, products and services. But what about “eFellowship?” In one sense we often seem to do some form of that, and in another sense, I have a terrible problem with the concept.
I remember my son saying that he was “talking” to friends in reference to text messaging or corresponding on Facebook. Being a little old fashioned, I’d argue back (nicely of course) that what he was doing in no way constituted “talking.” The very word “talking” to me implied a form of face-to-face communication. He disagreed with me, and that’s OK. In retrospect, he was right. We all “talk” on telephones, which also is not a face-to-face communication, and what he was doing was simply the next generation of telephone communication.
However, when it comes to fellowship, what are we talking about? Let’s define the word. When I speak of “fellowship,” I’m thinking primarily about community, and specifically, Christian community. I’m thinking about working and sharing and praying together. I’m also thinking about how we comfort and encourage each other. In speaking of fellowship, I’m thinking of Bible reading and study and music aimed at jointly bringing us all closer to God. I’m thinking of sharing life, and not just a few moments at the tail of some religious service. That is what “fellowship” means to me.
Obviously, then, fellowship is very important. I not only seek it, but I often even crave it. Real fellowship is the life-blood that pumps through our veins (or it ought to be). For me, there is no substitute for that intense face-to-face fellowship. Nothing can compare to that.
Still, we are not always together face-to-face as believers. We are a computer driven and social network based society where we “meet,” albeit electronically, other believers in the Lord Jesus Christ. Though I’ve never met them face-to-face, by regularly corresponding with them on social networks, like Twitter, I’m strangely feeling like I’m beginning to know some of these brothers and sisters a little bit. And if that were true, then how would we best describe that electronic relationship? If in this relationship we share Scriptures, song lyrics and other inspirational thoughts, can we then not also use the word “fellowship” to try and describe our activities? If we are being uplifted and encouraged and blessed by each other, then is that not a form of fellowship? Furthermore, since the activity is electronically based, can one call it “eFellowship?”
So what are your thoughts? What does the word “fellowship” mean to you? Are you comfortable with the word “eFellowship” to describe your online relationships? What is right with the concept? What is wrong with it? I’d love to hear your views.