The following is an excerpt from Real Christianity, The Nature of the Church © 2001 by RJ Dawson. All Rights Reserved.
This word is taken from the Greek word koinonia. It general, it means ministry within community. It denotes the active participation of each member in the body. Koinonia stresses body life, the functioning of each person according to the Lord’s will in a specific manner. This is how a person carries out his or her calling and finds personal fulfillment. By ministering to one another, each member can give and receive. Yet, such giving and receiving is not confined to the intangible, but to the material also. True fellowship is possible only within the body of Christ, which is expressed well in the following passage:
For even as the body is one and yet has many members, and all the members of the body, though they are many, are one body, so also is Christ. For by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body, whether Jews or Greeks, whether slaves or free, and we were all made to drink of one Spirit.
For the body is not one member, but many. If the foot says, “Because I am not a hand, I am not a part of the body,” it is not for this reason any the less a part of the body. And if the ear says, “Because I am not an eye, I am not a part of the body,” it is not for this reason any the less a part of the body. If the whole body were an eye, where would the hearing be? If the whole were hearing, where would the sense of smell be? But now God has placed the members, each one of them, in the body, just as He desired. If they were all one member, where would the body be?
But now there are many members, but one body. And the eye cannot say to the hand, “I have no need of you”; or again the head to the feet, “I have no need of you.” On the contrary, it is much truer that the members of the body which seem to be weaker are necessary; and those members of the body which we deem less honorable, on these we bestow more abundant honor, and our less presentable members become much more presentable, whereas our more presentable members have no need of it.
But God has so composed the body, giving more abundant honor to that member which lacked, so that there may be no division in the body, but that the members may have the same care for one another. And if one member suffers, all the members suffer with it; if one member is honored, all the members rejoice with it. Now you are Christ’s body, and individually members of it. [1 Cor. 12:12–27]
This excellent illustration goes a long way in explaining the comparatively curious lifestyle of the early church and why it appears so foreign to much of modern Christianity. Those people were the real deal. Their community life was not burdensome, however, nor was it strained, but quite the contrary. Because the Spirit of God was present and greatly welcomed, life flowed and brotherly love came naturally. And that was the key—since each member took on the nature of Jesus, care and compassion for one another was almost effortless. The community was quick to react to the needs of others. They lived to serve, to help, to build up, and to strengthen. Maturity was gained by helping others, and each matured by receiving help. The more one delves into the genuine love displayed by our forebears of the distant past, the more one should recognize how infantile and disorganized we are in the present.
Our principles of organization are largely based on human perception and tradition. Many of our practices are never questioned. We simply continue onward with our faces pressed against the invisible barrier apparently constructed to restrict the invasion of heresy, but which actually forces our ignorance and disobedience. True fellowship recognizes the great worth of each person. It expresses a complete understanding of the fact that Jesus is the Owner and Creator of all things, and yields to His dominion. This is why the first Christians held all things in common. They were selfless. Jesus taught them to be always willing to give to one another and the less fortunate. And contrary to “sensible” thinking, they learned that proper giving would not exhaust their supply, but actually cause it to increase.
 Koinonia (koy-nohn-’ee-ah): Fellowship, community, joint participation, association.