Many people want a place to belong, particularly a place where they contribute to a larger mission. We’ve all been stretched and challenged over the past 18 months plus to think outside of ourselves in order to bless, help, and encourage others. Over the past 18 months plus to think outside of ourselves in order to bless, help, and encourage others.
What can churches do to help the community during the covid-19 pandemic? Connecting people to that mission gives them a role to play. For example, people who previously participated in food drives stepped up and became the organizers, families who may have not sung at home together all that often were found singing outside of hospital buildings, and those who never picked up a paintbrush were creating inspiring messages and artwork on rocks and poster boards to share in the community. Even in our isolation, we felt a need to BELONG to something because it’s in our nature.
Have you seen this acronym before? Hopefully, it’s something similar to what you’ve previously heard or read, but looking at it now, I’m leaning in a bit. Those who gather together as believers have like minds with different personalities and gifts. As we belong together, it’s our job to edify, uplift, and encourage each other so we can tackle the challenges of life and learn how to live according to the Word to draw people to Him.
Oasis is a word that reminds me of safety and peace so that we can focus on and nurture those around us. Personal growth is key and it looks different for each person, but the conversations about personal development need to be continuous. And, for the icing on the cake, when people belong, good things happen in the church! In another blog, Big Church Made Small: Prioritize Small Groups, it says this about corporate growth, “Connections and community are what cause so many churches to grow and become stronger.” Strong churches are established when people belong.
When you belong to something, you are all in. Belonging is an inherent desire that will be protected. As shared in Big Church Made Small: Make Everyone Feel Known, “Relationships drive retention. If someone has meaningful relationships with people in a church, they stay. They’ll stay longer than a single leader’s tenure. They’ll ride the waves of changes. All because of the deep relationships in place.” In other words, these people become your people. You do life together in small and big ways.
I was recently reading Matthew 1 about the genealogy of Jesus, the son of David, the son of Abraham. It’s not the first time I’ve read this, and I hope it won’t be the last. But this time I was struck with the fact that these men belonged to something greater than (and despite) themselves. Some of the names are more familiar to our ears- Abraham, David, and Jacob, but Judah might be a stretch and Salmon actually triggered thoughts not at all related to a genealogy line; but then we get to the more known name of Jesse, the father of King David. There was a whole lot of living life and belonging from Abraham to Jesse.
As I kept reading, there were more unfamiliar to me names and then I landed on Joseph, husband of Mary. Joseph who thought life was going to go in one direction with his betrothed bride and in fact it turned upside down. In a scenario where Joseph probably couldn’t turn to his friend circle, he had something more- he belonged to a long line of family who, over years and generations, trusted God and took Him at His word. Each person in that lineage had a role and contribution to the life of Christ. They all belonged to God’s continuous community.
My hope is that you look for those who appear unconnected. Seek them out. They want to belong somewhere. Show them in word and deed why they belong at your church and in your small group with believers who will edify and learn alongside them in a safe and confidential place so they’ll be poured into and grow as a disciple and follower of the Way.
Big Church Made Small: Make Everyone Feel Known
Being a larger church does create more opportunities, but it also creates more ways for people to get lost. People should feel known at church. Our latest resource Big Church Made Small: Make Everyone Feel Known, shows a path you and your team can follow. And, to make it even easier and so you don’t miss any of our Church Growth Resources, you can also receive our ministry blog posts straight to your inbox!