Belonging often precedes believing, so it's crucial for worshiping congregations to ask, "How do we create 'space and place' for people to belong?"
It's through Christ's followers that people who do not know Christ get to hear his voice, feel his comforting touch, and sense the compassion of his heart. Some ways to provide space and place for people to belong are small groups, triads, care groups, shepherding groups, mentors, circles, and Sunday school.
Amid the daily hustle and bustle, we need to be intentional about helping people to belong. One study suggests that a person knows if he or she belongs within the first few minutes. That means churches need people at their doors to welcome people in. It requires members to consider how it feels for people to attend their church for the very first time. It means they need to be intentional about language and how they create opportunities for inclusion. (A natural place to do this is at the baptismal font and at the Lord's Table. Welcome children and adults and invite them to join in and celebrate with God's family.)
Being a member of the church involves belonging to God through Jesus Christ. It means belonging to the family of God.
Scriptures to Study
- Hebrews 11-12
- 1 Corinthians 9:19-23
- 1 Corinthians 6:19-20
- Romans 14:7-9
- Acts 2:37-47
- Matthew 25:35-40
- Romans 15:1-7
- Revelation 22:17
Describe Your Community (beyond your church walls)
- Use statistics, research that is already done
- For the US: factfinder.census.gov/faces/nav/jsf/pages/index.xhtml
- For Canada: www12.statcan.gc.ca/census-recensement/index-eng.cfm
Describe Your Congregation as it Worships
- Who are you doing a good job of including? How could you share your “know how” with other churches?
- Who from your community is missing?
- Why aren’t they present?
- What might be done to remove barriers, invite them to come, and encourage participation?