Following on from our small group last Tuesday, I was chatting this week with our friend Kate and (amongst the many wise and thought-provoking things she said) she related part of a discussion she’d had (I think with her pastor, but I can’t actually remember).

We were talking about the shift in churches’ approach to non- or new Christians as they found their way to churches.  Apparently most churches would have, consciously or otherwise, followed the model of ‘believe, behave, belong’ which implies a sort of striving for acceptable conduct before truly becoming part of a church family.  I know that’s a gross over-simplification, but it’s late!  However, now there’s a shift towards ‘belong, believe, behave’, which this time to me implies that it’s through community people will come to faith and as that faith grows their transformation will too. 

But this has got me thinking about how the belonging happens in the first place.  What do people belong to?  Community is one word but it hides the many possible meanings and insinuations contained within it.  I don’t think it necessarily means ‘belonging’ to a church or other Christian community.  I know I became a Christian basically through friends, and that friendship was unconditional.  Out of the friendships came contact with ideas, people and eventually Christian groups and churches which I’d have otherwise missed, but that was never the point in the friendship. 

I know this is old news and unsophisticated thinking for many.  But I like the idea of belonging, believing, behaving.  Probably because it’s a three word description of my own journey to faith, and a summary of any given point in my Christian life.