Ephesians 3:14-15 « For this cause, I bow my knees to the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named. »
Of all the universal needs of a human being (shelter, safety, value, etc) perhaps none is quite as powerful as the need to belong. God put something in the soul of every person on this planet that calls out for acceptance. Among all of the species on Earth, no enfant is more dependent for his survival on the parents than the human being. At birth we are the weakest, most vulnerable, and most fragile of all of God’s creation. And from this position of poverty bonds of belonging are forged that carry us through life.
We must belong to a family. Our family name becomes an integral part of our identity. We have a nationality because we belong to a particular nation. We get married and we belong to someone we love dearly. We join clubs, schools, teams, and even businesses. We use language that reveals the power of belonging. We talk about my hairdresser, my doctor, my favorite store, my brand of clothes, as though these things belonged to us personally.
We also love experiences. We go to concerts, movies, theme parks, museums, galleries and the like. We enjoy ourselves, and we get value from these things. But rarely do we leave with a feeling of belonging.
What is the local church for you? Is it an experience that enriches your individual walk with the Lord, or is it a family where you have a sense of belonging? Is the pastor someone with a strong personality and a keen sense of management, or is he someone who radiates a sense of family around him? Do the leaders act like a board of directors of a corporation or like a close knit family?
No matter how big or small the local church is, it is supposed to feel like a family, not a business, not an army, and not a show. We obviously want to experience the presence of God in the services; but beyond that our local church should be a place that beckons to those who attend: join us, belong to us, be a part of our family.
Depending on how we were raised, what kind of personality we have, and the particular environment of the local church, belonging can be a difficult process. But it basically consists of just two elements: become attached to the people, and become attached to the vision.
Again, depending on the size and the components of your local church becoming attached to the people can take time. You must be intentional about it because it doesn’t happen by accident. Most of us want to be discovered; we want others to be interested in us and come and seek us out. But that rarely, if ever, happens. We must be the ones who reach out and seek out others. And we should continue until we find those in the local church that we can easily relate to. So stop sitting on the back row, in the corner, waiting for someone to come and talk to you. Get out there and meet people until you find someone that you connect with. Then invite them out for a meal and get to know them.
Then you must learn what the particular mission of the local church is. Don’t just assume to know it based on what you have seen in the past. If God is adding you to this spiritual family than there is a role for you to play in accomplishing the mission that God gave to this church. To do this you will need to meet with the leaders of the church; if there is no printed information regarding the vision and the values of the church, you will need to ask questions in order to inform yourself.
Be proactive not passive. And when you make a commitment, make a good one. Don’t have the attitude that you will try this out to see how it goes. No. Make a strong commitment and give it your best.