The feeling that we don’t belong can be very frustrating. For a new person to a church it can be especially discouraging.
As a new church planter, this makes me determined that when new people come to Freedom Church they come with hope:
- hope that the hurts in life will be healed
- hope that relationships will be found or healed
- hope that loneliness will be filled with community
- hope that they will experience God
Bottom line, hoping they will fit. Hoping that they will belong. Hoping that they will not be rejected. It is a scary place to be.
Here are a few things we know about belonging.
1. Everyone has a desire to belong.
This seems to be hardwired in our soul. We are all looking for community and a place to belong.
2. Most people need help belonging.
There are a few people who naturally belong. They are the big presence in a room. They meet people very easily and they honestly do not need help finding a community. They are the exception. Most people need a little help, and given to their own personality and temperament they will show up to church a few times, not really connect, get frustrated, and leave. This is not acceptable.
3. The pathway to belonging must be simple, visible and repeatable.
To help people belong, we need a pathway to community that is simple. Just a few steps and you will have the opportunity to be connected. It has to be visible so that when people attend on the weekend there is a clear pathway to get connected in a community group, to serving, and ultimately to membership.
4. When people feel like they belong they become contributing members of the group.
Our goal is for each person to become a fully engaged, fully contributing, and fully connected member of our family (community).
5. If the belonging itch is not scratched they will not hang around long.
As a church, we will have people leave. People will become disheartened for good reason. Some people will just feel a prompting of God to join another church family – which we will applaud! But people leaving because they were not helped to connect breaks my heart.
6. God has trusted us with his most valuable possessions--people.
We will do a lot of things as a church. We will have great worship on the weekend. We will have great children’s ministry. All of our efforts are to see people connect with God and others in order to find freedom through Jesus. People are God’s greatest possession and often as pastors we fall into the trap of being bothered by people rather than seeing them as the most important thing to God.
As stewards of God's most valuable possessions, it is our duty to help people feel they belong in our church so that they can be connected to God and experience transformation.