I’ve learnt over my 40 years of journeying with God that belonging is the key.
In my earlier church life the pattern was that you ‘made a commitment’, went to church, followed the rules, served in a ministry team and, after much time, you could finally say that you belonged. A bit simplistic, I know, but nevertheless there can be this idea that you have to sign up first and then earn the right to belong.
I have learnt that a better church model is to make people feel a sense of belonging right from the start, ensuring that they know they are accepted and valued for who they are and for where they are. Then, through ongoing love, support and godly influence, as we walk with each other on our journeys, we would hope for lives that demonstrate a commitment to following Jesus.
Didn’t Jesus accept people for who they were and didn’t he instil in them a sense of value and honour? Ok, he had Godly insight to see the issues in their lives, and he did share these insights with them, but his acceptance of them as people didn’t depend on them sorting those things out first.
Let’s make our churches places where the broken, imprisoned, hurting and fearful people in our communities can say ‘I’m valued here, I belong here’.
The surname Whiteside attracts attention from men of a certain age! No, I’m not related to ‘Norman’ the famous footballer! I’m a Civil (very!) Engineer by day and have a wonderful wife and three great kids to share the wonders of Civil Engineering with each night. They are very appreciative! I attend Kings Church in Bangor, where I help organise the worship