Statements of Belonging?

In life and in death, we belong to God.

One of my brilliant colleagues suggested yesterday that – if we are trying to shift to a Belong-Behave-Believe orientation (from Believe-Behave-Belong) then maybe we should ask those preparing for leadership in the church to write A Statement of Belonging before writing A Statement of Faith.

New church members, confirmands, seminarians, those seeking ordination, and other church leaders are familiar with writing our own Statements of Belief.  The Apostles Creed in our own words, if you will.

But I’m intrigued by the notion of starting our affirmations with A Statement of Belonging.  How do we belong to our faith community?  Why do we belong?  To what do we belong?  This kind of statement would clarify several other questions:

  • Are we connected only to the pastor?  If so, then can we really consider ourselves part of the community?  Will we expect the pastor to be our primary spiritual mentor (because honestly it’s impossible for the pastor to be everybody’s spiritual mentor in a church.)
  • Do we understand who we are in The Body of Christ?  Do we have a sense of purpose in our community?  Are we appreciated for who we are?  Have people noticed and encouraged our gifts?
  • How do we see membership?  Is it about having our names on a list or roll, or is it about something else?
  • Does this community nurture us spiritually?  How are we fed or connected to the Holy or loved unconditionally?
  • How do we live out our commitment to this community?  And how does this faith community show its commitment to us?
  • Do we trust this community enough to be vulnerable?  Am I willing to share my failures and hurt along with my successes and joys?  And do I disclose these things only to the pastor?
  • Are we willing to allow the community to hold us accountable? Do we trust at least one person in our community to let us know when we are being mean/stubborn/fake/selfish?
As connected as we are in terms of social media, so many of us are still isolated and lonely.  If we are going to welcome others into our congregations, we need to know how we ourselves belong.  What do you think?

Image source: Words of Belonging and Exclusion

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