Why should someone “belong” to a local church? It’s definitely a question work asking. While there’s sufficient Biblical support for church membership, there’s also significant psychological, social, and cultural support for belonging to a local gathering. Here are just a couple of thoughts on the topic.
1. Belonging is an expression of identity. Christ followers identify with Christ as our identity is found in Him. Belonging to a church demonstrates our identity and our choice to link to others who identify with the One we’ve indentified with. There’s something about camaraderie in identification.
2. Belonging allows one to experience authentic community. Look at Acts 2:42-47. There you find a community exampled well. Community is found in gathering, doing life together, serving, giving, loving, caring, and praising. The identification is important, but living a life of faith together in engaged relationship is priceless. In happiness research, personal happiness is experienced in connection. People are “happier” in connected relationship with others.
3. Belonging promotes exposure to systematic Biblical teaching. Belong to a church that unapologetically teaches Scripture. Consistent Biblical discourse provides the opportunity for member(s) to sit under systematic teaching. When people jump or skip from church to church following the latest series or the over absorption of a particular ear-tickling subject, it doesn’t feed the “whole” soul. Belonging to a single congregation, doing life/faith together, and sitting under the teaching ministry of a single congregation allows for a well-balanced approach to Scripture. What did the early church do? They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching. (See Acts 2:42)
4. Belonging allows for the opportunity to discover unique personal purpose. God uniquely created, wired, and gifted you. We discover our uniqueness in community. God imparts giftedness and assembles the body for specific work and ministry. If you’re absent from the body, the body is missing an important piece of its structure – you. (See 1 Corinthians 12:12-19,27)
5. Belonging provides an occasion to live life to its fullest. Happiness research indicates that people are most “happy” and complete operating out of their sweet spot. That means that when living life through your passion, interests, and giftedness – you’re going to be at your best or happiest. You live life to it’s fullest when you’re living out your God called purpose and mission in life.
6. Belonging gives you the option to be a part of something bigger. Belonging to something bigger allows you to be a part of movements rather than solo acts. I can only accomplish so much, but when working in partnership and cooperation with others I’m able to accomplish so much more. Together we can accomplish much. Living in the accomplishment of the team is an exciting place. Do you want a visual of this principle? Do you remember when hundreds of people at Cool Spring came together on a Wednesday night and packed 40,000 meals in under an hour to help stop hunger? You can’t imagine the excitement in the room unless you were there to experience it! Talk about momentum! How long do you think it would have taken one person to pack 40,000 meals?
7. Belonging brings an appreciation for meaningful and accountable relationship. The priesthood of the believer is often claimed in the of demonstration one’s personal responsibility to God. The often less talked about believers’ priesthood is of equal importance. Responsible living is demonstrated in meaningful and accountable relationship. We’re not lone rangers, we bear significant responsibility one to another. This is lived out in community – a believers’ community. (See Ecclesiastes 4:9-12)
Considering “belonging” to a local church? Be encouraged to identify with a local congregation – get plugged into what’s happening and live a more fulfilled life. God has so much for you to experience in community!