Belonging Enables Believing

9 Jul

At sixteen and a half I stumbled upon a bible for the first time since I may have touched one when I was five. For two years in high school I read bits and pieces of it on a frequently infrequent basis. I actually tried to do a lot of the stuff that I read about and questioned as to whether there were things that I read about that I should do. But I just couldn’t grasp what the point was and the most difficult thing for me in understanding the scriptures was that religion to was very private and a very weird thing and I didn’t know who or what to ask to get help.

Hugh Halter and Matt Smay wrote a book called The Tangible Kingdom in which they point out the need of a person investigation a faith system to feel the ability to belong therefore enabling belief and this belonging isn’t just at a church service but to know they belong in the life of others:

The incarnational way culminates in this primary difference: Belonging enables believing. So often when people ponder this alternative they come alive with excitement. Here are some common responses we hear about the incarnational way.
-It takes the preassure off. My job is to provide a place of belonging, not push the Bible on people.
-I can trust God to do the “converting” thing.
-As an introvert and a person with hospitality gifts, I now know I can be a major part of the evangelistic process by creating belonging environments.
-It puts the focus back on my inner life instead of what I say or don’t say to people.
-I have to become good news to my family and friends if I want to influence them.
-This fits the natural flow of my life. We’re so busy, but what you’ve said is that everywhere I am and any person I touch consistently is someone that God will use me to help reach. I don’t have to add anything to my schedule; I just have to be intentional and authentic in the places I find myself in.

Community is the center of the entire missional incarnational approach. I have enjoyed all the relational evangelism books I’ve read over the years, but there’s a glaring hole in both those approaches. They suggest that you try to woo people along. When you try to do evangelism by yourself, your only option for continued spiritual movements is to get people to church. We find people who have developed great relationships with people at their office, their Starbucks, or wherever, but it always seems to dead-end. “I can’t get them to come to church!”

The issue is not you. The issue is that you don’t have a community in which they can find belonging and develop understanding.

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