What comes first for the Christian? Is it believing or belonging? Belief involves a confidence in a set of statements about Christianity. Belong inginvolves a confidence that we are loved and welcomed into a Christian community. Truth is, this conversation has been taking place for years. The “old school”
approach has often looked at belief leading to belonging and behaving appropriately. A “newer” approach focuses on belonging leading to believing and
becoming the person God created us to be.
This newer approach is supported with some research. Several years ago the Methodists in Great Britain reached out to hundreds of individuals who had
become inactive in the church. With this group they found that only two mentioned loss of faith as the reason for their lapsing.
This research, and work done by others, suggests that people lose their sense of belonging long before they lose their sense of belief. Of course, belief is
important, but it is probably the wrong starting point for missions. The priority should involve creating communities of care and love where belief can develop.
To this end, Lovely Lane continues to be a church that “welcomes” all people. We want to create space where all persons are invited to participate and
grow as a disciple. To keep moving forward though, we have to create additional entry points of belonging that can lead to faith development.
Pastor Kristina and I just returned from a workshop the Iowa Annual Conference held called “Fresh Expressions.” The workshop invited persons to
consider new groups a church can start that welcome others. Many of these groups would meet off campus. There is a lot to consider here.
Our church just completed a focus on “Great Ideas.” You gave us many exciting ideas to consider as we continue our journey. Our leadership team is
looking at these ideas right now.
I look forward to working with each of you as we move into the fall season. There is a lot to do as we welcome others and create vital community!
Blessings to you, Scott