Community: Can you Belong before you Believe?

Well, I thought I’d step off in this one early by saying I think you can belong before you believe and certainly before you behave and/or become.  I haven’t always had this perspective.  For years I was trained to teach persons to believe, behave, and then they could belong and become.  I even wrote about it when I wrote B.E.L.O.N.G. only a few short years ago.  I now let B.E.L.O.N.G. grow as I grow.

Become a learner of Jesus – over time I think you’ll fall in love with Him as I did.
Embrace a life of purpose
Live life in the context of groups
Offer your time and resources
Nurture relationships within the community
Grow in biblical maturity

I once wrote that “Become” meant you had to become a believer in Christ to belong.  I genuinely believe now that if we will allow someone to walk along side us as a part of belonging, they will over time “believe”.

So where did we get off track?  Didn’t Jesus say that we are to come to Him as a child.  It is interesting that we in the North American church built a structure that tells a persons they can only belong once they have met a certain set of criteria.  Our western mindset once again at work… Oh no it isn’t, the spiritual leaders of Jesus’ day did the exact same thing… laws, rules, rituals, regulations, etc… This isn’t new. We’ve just repackaged it to fit our western culture making it permissible.

Jesus modeled for us even with His disciples that we are to allow persons to belong with us…  Think about it… Judas and Peter were “belongers” and then they turned on Jesus.  Thomas was on the inside and still had questions, right up until he stuck his hands in Jesus’ nails scars.  If 120 or so people can sit in the upper room with Jesus – belonging – and still have questions, surely we can allow persons to belong as they search out believing.

Doesn’t mean we turn people lose to run the church or even give them leadership roles without spiritual maturity in Jesus.  But we can let them walk along side us and learn as they go.  There is always a place of service in the local church regardless of where you are on the journey.

Therefore, I submit that while we are loving Jesus, I bet you He’d like to see us:

love others – belong in a community
love God – believe in Jesus
leave a legacy – become the hands and feet of Jesus

Just a thought…


  1. I think so, because for me, believing is also a process.


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