Inter-Church Fellowship

The New Testament mentions over 30 assemblies, so it is not surprising that it also gives instruction on how believers should interact within an assembly and how whole assemblies should interact as well.


The singularity of each assembly: In the New Testament, we read of assemblies in specific cities, such as “the church of God which is at Corinth” (1Co 1:2),[1] or groups of assemblies in regions, such as “the churches of Macedonia” (2Co 8:1). In John’s vision, he saw seven churches of Asia, not pictured as one candelabra with seven branches connected to a common trunk (like a denomination), but rather individual lampstands. The Lord, who “walketh in the midst of the seven golden candlesticks” (Rev 2:1), censures each church separately by saying, “I know thy works” (2:2,9,13,19; 3:1,8,15). This confirms the autonomy and accountability of each specific assembly.

The similarity of all assemblies: When Paul writes to the “church of God which is at Corinth,” he addresses “all who in every place call on the name of Jesus Christ our Lord, both theirs and ours” (1Co 1:2 NKJV). He assumes that all believers in every assembly will submit to the Lord and carry out His plan for church doctrine and practice. So what Paul confirms he taught in Corinth, he taught in every church. For example, he says about assembly meetings, “As in all the churches of the saints, the women should keep silent in the churches” (1Co 14:33-34 ESV).

Please be clear. It is not that the Lord wants all churches to follow the Gospel Hall plan. Instead, He wants all the Gospel Halls to follow HIS plan – the blueprint for every gathering regardless of what they call their building. This can also be seen in the first assembly where believers continued in “the apostles’ doctrine” (Act 2:42), the one body of teaching, which is also called “the faith” (Jud 3) and “the truth” (2Ti 3:8).

Similarly, each lampstand John saw was distinct, yet all seven shared common characteristics. As lampstands (Rev 1:20), they illuminated the community around them. Being “golden,” they were equally valuable to God. Therefore, each assembly is unique, but the Lord values every assembly equally and expects each one to hold and practice the same teaching.


The Spirit of God uses the word “fellowship” (or “communion”) to describe an assembly (Act 2:42) because all members share the “apostles’ doctrine.” Equally, assemblies that hold these same teachings and practices can also enjoy spiritual fellowship. That, in turn, produces a mutual concern for the well-being of one another.

Giving: Surely God is pleased when His churches help one another. For example, when a famine hit Jerusalem, Paul described how other assemblies expressed fellowship. He said, “For it hath pleased them of Macedonia and Achaia to make a certain contribution for the poor saints which are at Jerusalem” (Rom 15:26).

Partnering: When it came to the distribution of offerings, Paul told the Corinthians that they were sending “the brother whose praise is in the gospel throughout all the churches, and not only that, but who was also chosen by the churches to travel with us with this gift” (2Co 8:18-19 NKJV). This man had worked in the gospel in partnership with the assemblies in that area. Now, the same churches communicated and agreed that he be chosen to help Paul deliver funds to Jerusalem.

Visiting: When the eloquent preacher Apollos “desired to cross to Achaia, the brethren wrote, exhorting the disciples to receive him” (Act 18:27 NKJV). This letter introduced Apollos and recognized his ability to handle the Scriptures. Similarly, when Phoebe traveled to Rome, Paul wrote, “I commend to you Phoebe our sister, who is a servant of the church in Cenchrea” (Rom 16:1 NKJV). Her travels and accompanying letter informed the Roman assembly of the doctrine of the church in Cenchrea and of Phoebe personally. Therefore, using letters of commendation is biblical and provides opportunities to foster fellowship between assemblies.


When it comes to most assembly matters and discipline cases, it is wise to follow the counsel of David after Saul’s death, “Tell it not in Gath, publish it not in the streets of Askelon; lest the daughters of the Philistines rejoice” (2Sa 1:20). Divulging assembly problems or failures of a believer is not edifying and it can hinder souls from coming to Christ. Being “in the know” about believers’ failures or another assembly’s problems is a great liability, as it can subtly defile us, lead us to pride, impact our treatment of others, etc. And yet, there is biblical basis for assemblies to share news, at certain times, with other assemblies.

The Lord said to John, “Write what you see in a book and send it to the seven churches” (Rev 1:11 ESV). In one book, He included God’s program for the future and seven mini-letters to seven distinct churches. In so doing, the assembly in Philadelphia would read of the inspiring news from Pergamum of a brother the Lord calls “Antipas my faithful witness” (2:13 ESV), who died as a martyr. They would also read the shameful news of the seduction and fornication of a woman called Jezebel in Thyatira and the immoral activities in Ephesus called “the deeds of the Nicolaitans” (2:6). Both positive and negative news was shared with other churches because the people involved had influenced or could influence other testimonies in that province.

Therefore, an assembly should share news when it could have moral or spiritual impact on other assemblies. For example, if a brother was having gospel meetings (positive news), an assembly could inform surrounding assemblies for prayer and support. Of course, if a believer in one assembly were to burn down the house of a brother in another, both assemblies would have to deal with the personal offense committed and the law of society that was broken. Similarly, if a believer in Assembly A committed fornication with a believer in Assembly B, both assemblies would communicate and seek the restoration of the parties involved.

In the same book of Revelation, six other churches read the Lord’s warning to Pergamum of the “doctrine of Balaam” and “the doctrine of the Nicolaitans” (2:14,15). In Acts 15, “some men came down [to Antioch] from Judea” (v1) and began telling Gentiles they needed to be circumcised to be saved. Because the matter involved both assemblies, men from both came together to address the matter. Then a letter was sent. So while avoiding gossip is vital, the balancing counsel from the Old Testament would be Jonathan’s statement to David concerning his wicked father, King Saul: “For if I knew certainly that evil were determined by my father to come upon thee, then would not I tell it thee?” (1Sa 20:9).

Inter-assembly relationships can be delicate, difficult and delightful. Paul spoke of his “deep concern for all the churches” (2Co 11:28 NKJV). May God infuse us with greater appreciation for all assemblies and a desire to maintain and foster fellowship between the churches of our God.

[1] All Scripture quotations in this article are from the KJV unless otherwise noted.