Can you spell “koinonia”? And – more importantly – do you live it?


“A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” – John 13:34-35

Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. – Acts 2:25-27

I’m not always on the lookout for “irony of the week,” but I couldn’t help but chuckle yesterday when I learned that the national spelling bee was decided on a word the country at large can’t pronounce, can’t define, and can’t use in a sentence let alone practice.

The word is koinonia (kɔɪnoʊˈniːə). It comes from the Greek word, κοινωνία, and it means – essentially – active Christian community. Koinonia evokes communion, love, support, joining together. Personally, I tend to describe koinonia as “doing life together.”

Doing Life Together:

Koinonia is almost a lost art in a society where so many people are at odds with one another, where fragmentation is the order of the day, where many people of faith are more interested in being “right” than in following Jesus, where (in many homes) multi-tasking erodes even the sanctity of family dinners, where people brush by each other without stopping to look into their brother/sister’s soul, and where “the next interesting thing” stops us from engaging with what is right in front of us.

Koinonia is one more reason I say every single person would benefit from making the commitment to being an active part of a faith community. Koinonia is exactly why we were created, in the image of God, so that we could participate in and enjoy such intentional, loving, community.

Dinner Party!

1-IMG_5525With all that in mind Rebekah and I enjoyed a beautiful slice of koinonia Friday evening when we invited some friends for a casual dinner at Maul-Hall.

All that is needed for the perfect evening is friends, good food, generous hearts, and a common awareness of God’s grace in our lives. Conversation is the entertainment when we are able to dig deeply into our own souls and share ourselves with honesty, with humility, and with love.

Five hours of easy conversation, listening and laughing, and crying, and practicing the ministry of encouraging presence. We kicked everyone out at 11:00 but we could have talked till midnight.

This is what the world needs. I believe the best form of evangelism – faith sharing – that we can engage in is to live and to love in a way that illustrates the word.

So, how do spell koinonia? “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”John 13:34-35

Would you look at these people who follow Jesus? They love one another with such eloquence! Their love fills them up, it animates the way that they live, and it spills right over onto the rest of us.


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derekmaul View All →

Derek has published seven books in the past decade (you can find them at, and there’s always something new in the works.

Before becoming a full-time writer, Derek taught public school in Florida for eighteen years, including cutting-edge work with autistic children. He holds bachelor’s degrees in psychology and education from Stetson University and the University of West Florida.

Derek is active in teaching at his church: adult Sunday school, and a men’s Bible study/spiritual formation group. He enjoys the outdoors, traveling, photography, reading, cooking, playing guitar, and golf.

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