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On December 8, 1983, seven couples gathered to prayerfully consider if God was calling them to start a new church with a unique focus. The mission would be to help others realize their full potential as spiritual leaders – leaders equipped to express their authentic relationship with Christ to those within their neighborhoods, work places, communities, and beyond. It would be a church focused on people and Truth, preparing the Body to embrace the work of the Gospel (Ephesians 4:11-16; 2 Timothy 2:2; 1 Peter 2:5, 9; Matthew 5:14-16). With this vision in mind, the families committed to seven days of prayer to answer two key questions. First, would they be willing to make such a church their home? Second, would they give sacrificially of their time, resources, and skills to help the church get started?
The following Sunday, the families came together and voted unanimously to begin Fellowship Bible Church of Northwest Arkansas. For the next several months, they faithfully gathered in their homes for worship, teaching, and fellowship, while at the same time, laying the foundation necessary for public ministry. On February 1, 1984, Dr. Robert Cupp began part-time ministry as Fellowship’s first pastor. When Fellowship officially opened to the public on Sunday, May 27, 1984, the core of the church had grown to seventeen families which now met in rented facilities of the Seventh Day Adventist Church in Bentonville.
In addition to a healthy corporate worship experience, Fellowship embraced (and still does) life-on-life interaction as a crucial part of equipping people for effective ministry. At the time, it was very unusual, if not unheard of, to make the home the center of small group ministry. For many, this led to ministry becoming a lifestyle and God blessed it. By June of 1987, this idea of “every member ministry” grew the church so rapidly that a larger worship venue was necessary. For four years (1987-1991), Oakdale Junior High in Rogers became the place where the church gathered to celebrate how God was moving in and through His people. Each week, using sound equipment, portable cribs, and children’s ministry supplies, humble, servant-hearted pioneers transformed a junior high school into an authentic place of worship.
As Northwest Arkansas continued to grow more regional in nature, Fellowship built its first building in the Rogers/Lowell area to provide a centralized gathering place for the church. This building was dedicated to the Lord on June 16, 1991 in hopes that it would be a place where God would be pleased to work in and through His people. As the Rogers Campus continued to expand, God’s blessing of growth continued to outpace the facilities. The Elder Board of Fellowship subsequently added services on Saturday night to make room for the number of people in attendance. However, they quickly came to the conviction that crowd management was not the compelling reason to hold Saturday night celebrations. They saw an opportunity to reach a new demographic of people with life circumstances that made Sunday morning worship difficult or impossible. In September of 1998, Fellowship Saturday Night was born. This congregation became a unique expression of Fellowship’s vision and mission attracting professionals with work responsibilities on Sunday, people recovering from difficult life experiences, and those more comfortable exploring issues of faith in a non-traditional Saturday evening setting. Fellowship Saturday Night became a place of great healing and once again, God faithfully blessed the work of His people. To capture the heart of what God was doing there, the congregation changed its name to Mosaic where “all are broken,” “all matter,” and “One (Jesus Christ) gets the glory."
In October of 2003, Celebrate Recovery (which meets on Friday Nights) became the third congregation at Fellowship Bible Church. It is a powerful place to seek God for help in overcoming difficult hurts, hang-ups, and habits and to celebrate Him.
In 2011, Fellowship launched the BiLD Training Center (now called The Training Center) to help equip its people, other churches, and business professionals with tools for effective spiritual leadership in life and ministry.
On May 8, 2016, Fellowship launched its fourth congregation (Fellowship Fayetteville) in the city of Fayetteville. Although, many from Fayetteville have been actively engaged in Fellowship’s vision and mission for over 30 years, the new location provides a place for them to gather and be equipped to reach their neighbors. With the University of Arkansas in their backyard, God has brought people from all over the world to the front doors. Through this congregation, Fellowship has an opportunity to engage the world in a way that is uniquely Fayetteville. On March 1, 2019, Celebrate Recovery began meeting on Friday Nights on the Fayetteville Campus as well, offering a renewed sense of hope and help to the people of Fayetteville and its surrounding communities.
In February of 2020, the Elders of Fellowship Bible Church approved construction of a new campus in the city of Bentonville, where a new Fellowship Congregation will gather to know and express the authentic Christ to the people of Bentonville and its surrounding communities. May God receive all the glory!All of the distinct congregations share one vision and one mission. They share the same Elder Board, resources, and core beliefs. As Fellowship looks to the future, we move forward with the confidence that God is faithful and can use His people to change the heart and soul of Northwest Arkansas and the world.