Upper Room Fellowship (URF) refers to consistent gathering of people (believers or believers with unbelievers) in the name of The LORD centered on edification, strengthening and comfort of its members through sharing the word of God. This is done though praising, praying together and sharing of testimonies in an atmosphere of love. The members agree on a particular day and time of the week for the fellowship.
The name Upper Room is derived scripturally from Acts 1:13……and when they were come in, they went into an upper room, where abode…. (kjv) where after the ascension of The LORD, the disciples met and had fellowship together. It refers to both home church and cell church which are both house fellowships.
Home church refers to an assembly of Christians who aggregately do not belong to the same corporate church while a cell church refers to an assembly of Christians who belong the same corporate church. Whether the URF is a home church or cell church, the church mandate and tenets of faith must be upheld.
BIBLICAL CONCEPT OF URF
The early church established the pattern of the “church-in-the-home” concept. They held both home fellowships and church worship for the corporate body of believers. The synagogue (church building) was used for the teaching sessions. In the book of Acts, we see a vibrant, active, anointed church. “And they continued steadfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship in the breaking of bread, and in prayers . . . So continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, they ate their food with gladness and simplicity of heart, praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to the church daily those who were being saved.” (Acts 2:42, 46-47). There are several references to “the church that is in their house” in the new testament (Romans 16:5; 1 Corinthians 16:19; Colossians 4:15; Philemon 2). We Christians are God’s household and His church (1 Timothy 3:15). As such, we are having a church meeting whenever we gather together. The secret thriving of the early church which provides for a foundational basis of the church today was due to pure apostolic teachings and dire dedications to close communion in houses. The greatest commandment that was given to the church is love (Matthew 22:37-40). The home church provides a platform where this can be realized through close communion unlike in a corporate body of Christ.
LOVE: THE BACKBONE OF THE URFs
Love is the evidence of being a disciple of Jesus. It is the greatest virtue and demonstration of the reality of Jesus Christ and the fullness of His Spirit in our lives. We endeavor to show a Christ-like love toward all men. Love should be exhibited in our lives by our words as well as our action. Real love and real fellowship go hand in hand. One is dependent upon the other.Fellowship means sharing “life”. We share life with God, and we share life with one another (1 John 1:3). This fellowship comes as we walk in the light (1 John 1:7). Walking in the light means loving our brother (1 John 2:9-10), as Jesus has commanded us. Fellowship is “caring” for each other. Being a disciple of Christ means giving ourselves in sacrificial, practical love, to others. This is Jesus’ way to true Christian fellowship, without this love we cannot be true disciples and we cannot have real biblical fellowship.Jesus said, “All will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.” (John 13:35).This is the way the early church functioned. They shared different aspects of their Christian life: Acts 2:42 — teaching, fellowship, breaking of bread, prayer. They also had different ways of coming together: Acts 2:46 — meeting in the temple (large group) and meeting in their homes (small groups). There was none among them that had need (Acts 4:34) for they had all things in common.
The outline of the URF centers is geographical based on proximity of members. From the church building, regions are divided which further narrowed down to zones the finally to individual house fellowships. Each region, zone and house has an overseer.
GOALS OF THE URFs
- To create a sense of membership among the people. Each member sees him/herself as belonging to the URF as a cell and the church as a whole.
- To meet the needs of the members in a way the large congregation will not be able to do. Since the number of people in the URFs is relatively few, the immediate as well as intimate needs of the members can easily be met.
- To breed unity in the church. It does this by creating unity among the URF members. This strengthens the corporate church as a body.
- To enhance church growth. This is by neighborhood evangelism in different fellowship centers
- To promote spiritual growth and maturity. This the goal of every believer’s faith, the salvation of their souls. This is accomplished through free and interactive sharing of the word of God and its place in a believer’s life and a platform where gifts are nurtured.
- To effectively manage the corporate congregation. The URFs being the smaller units of the main church, organized governance, management and leadership is made easy and thus granting stability of the large congregation.