Belonging, Not Believing

Human beings – you and I – don’t appreciate nor do we embrace change

We unconsciously resist change – sometimes consciously

We prefer what we know than what we don’t know

We like to feel safe, secure, and comfortable

So, we resist change because it will cause us to go where we have never gone before

And that is uncomfortable, not safe, and certainly offers little security or certainty

Mark Twain once said, “The only person who likes change is a baby with a wet diaper”

Admit it or not, most of us prefer to be safe, secure, comfortable

But the Christian faith is a journey that involves change

And the journey takes us where we have never been before and requires that we change

Christians cannot remain “children” forever … there is a call on each of our lives to change and to grow “in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.” (2 Peter 3:18 NIV)

There is a call to move forward, change, and grow up… to grow into a mature believer

Who knows Jesus on an ever deepening personal level and as a result

  1. Knows who they are (be – being)
  2. Who they are becoming
  3. What they are called to do
  4. The gifts and skills that they possess

A well-known Christian writes:

“My God is not just Someone I believe in. He’s Someone I know. I’ve felt His presence. I’ve seen His activity. I’ve experienced His deliverance. I’ve been touched by His healing. I’ve witnessed answered prayer. I’ve heard Him speak straight to me through His Word. Yes, I believe. But more than that, I know.”

This is true of all born again believers

And, as a result, we should be constantly growing and changing “in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.”

And this means constantly changing…

Paul writes some challenging words:

“I’m completely frustrated by your unspiritual dealings with each other and with God. You’re acting like infants in relation to Christ, capable of nothing much more than nursing at the breast. Well, then, I’ll nurse you since you don’t seem capable of anything more. As long as you grab for what makes you feel good or makes you look important, are you really much different than a babe at the breast, content only when everything’s going your way?” (1 Corinthians 3:1-3 The Message Version)

Long phone conversation:

One of the young men who travels overseas with me – just diagnosed with “Bi-polar Disorder”

He attends a “Word – Faith” church and Bible School where you simply speak your future into being with your words

“The power of life and death is in the tongue” so what you speak is what you get

So, we were speaking about this in light of the news he has just received and what he should be doing

Speak his healing and future and create it through his words

Take the medicine needed to keep him mentally stable so he can finish Bible School

I asked him:

“So God does not have a plan or purpose for your life – or do you decide what you want and your words create it?”

I asked him:

“So, does God not guide the steps of a righteous man?”

I asked him:

“If God does not heal you are you still going to follow Him and serve Him?”

This young man is on a painful journey with Jesus growing “in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.” (2 Peter 3:18 NIV)

If he responds to what God has allowed to come into His life

Change his view from:

  • Church – Me to Kingdom – The King
  • Change his understanding of Scripture, Jesus and His heavenly Father
  • Change his focus from the disease that might limit his ministry (doing) to the fact that no matter what happens he is being strengthened and becoming more and more like Jesus (being not doing)
  • Growing “in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.” (2 Peter 3:18 NIV)

My last comment in our conversation …

Walk this thing out with Jesus and see where it takes you and what changes it brings to your life


Romans 8:28 “And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.”

Change is never easy … But, we know the Holy Spirit and He is guiding and directing us in each and every change that comes our way

And, change is a constant companion in our walk with the Lord as disciples and believers

I seem to be in a major season of change along with many others – Change: personal and in the ministry the Lord has honoured me to be doing in His Name

Personal change always precedes change in what you are doing for Him…

  • My understanding of many familiar Scripture passages – changing
  • My walk with God – changing
  • My understanding of His heart – changing
  • My focus in ministry – changing
  • The way I minister – changing
  • The way I see the Church – changing
  • My understanding of God’s plan for the Church – changing
  • My view of the Kingdom – changing


Many years ago I taught you that the Christian life is a journey made up of three elements:

  1. Believe
  2. Belong
  3. Become

Then I understood that there is missing element regarding how the Christian is to grow and flow

  1. Believe
  2. Behave
  3. Belong
  4. Become

A few years later I changed the teaching because my understanding changed as I “grew in the grace and knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ”

  1. Believe
  2. Behave
  3. Belong
  4. Become
  5. Build – the Kingdom

Pretty neat, eh? … and so I have taught this a number of times in various places

But, I am growing and changing in my understanding

The Church – The Kingdom

Doing – Being…

Kingdom Culture – Society – Values – Morals

AND, the culture is changing … the generational differences are immense

  • Generation Z / Boomlets don’t think like Generation Y / Millenniums
  • Millennials don’t think like Generation X
  • Generation X don’t think like Baby Boomers
  • Mature – Silent Generation
  • GI Generation

I have come to realize that all of this approach… is an “organizational approach” 

So, things change once again … “Kingdom Culture Approach” – The “organic” approach

  • Belong – accepted and embraced
  • Believe – the basics of the faith / born again
  • Build – help to see people saved by sharing your testimony (relationally)
  • Don’t separate convert from worker 
  • Become – grow to become more like Jesus
  • Behave – lifestyle changes in line with new priorities and worldview
  • When this became a reality in my spirit it changed…

The way I understand the Church

Approach ministry,

Think about evangelism

And see the Kingdom

People use to join a church because of what the church ‘believed’ … Now join because they want to ‘belong’

They will check out what your beliefs are after they join you and feel welcomed – often long after

Loved, Accepted, embraced – engaged and incorporated

Non-believers today will join us just to belong 

  • And they will choose to belong to a group that loves, accepts, and forgives
  • That does not judge them
  • Is not critical of their lifestyle
  • Allows them to have different values
  • Does not force them to change their lifestyle
  • Is alright with their priorities in life and work
  • Allows them to not believe the Bible
  • Non-believers are really not in the least interested in what you believe

Your beliefs may have been what attracted them 15 – 20 years ago but it is no longer the motivating factor for joining

If they see and experience the life of Christ – His love, acceptance, forgiveness

If this “life” is evident in your gatherings as believers…

Then they will become a part of what is happening here

John 1:4 “In him was life, and the life was the light of men.”

The life / nature of God the Father in Jesus was the “light” that drew people to Him

Matthew 5:14 “You are the light of the world”

His life in you / in the assembly is the light that will draw non-believers and cause them to join and “belong”

There is a neat story in the life and ministry of Jesus

John 8:1-11 (NLT) “Jesus returned to the Mount of Olives, but early the next morning he was back again at the Temple. A crowd soon gathered, and he sat down and taught them. As he was speaking, the teachers of religious law and the Pharisees brought a woman who had been caught in the act of adultery. They put her in front of the crowd. “Teacher,” they said to Jesus, “this woman was caught in the act of adultery. The law of Moses says to stone her. What do you say?” They were trying to trap him into saying something they could use against him, but Jesus stooped down and wrote in the dust with his finger. They kept demanding an answer, so he stood up again and said, “All right, but let the one who has never sinned throw the first stone!” Then he stooped down again and wrote in the dust. When the accusers heard this, they slipped away one by one, beginning with the oldest, until only Jesus was left in the middle of the crowd with the woman. Then Jesus stood up again and said to the woman, “Where are your accusers? Didn’t even one of them condemn you?” “No, Lord,” she said. And Jesus said, “Neither do I. Go and sin no more.”

Jesus didn’t condone sin – as if sin did not matter

Jesus didn’t condemn sin – as if sin defined the person

Jesus simply said, “Go and sin no more”

As the lady left she would have known without a doubt that she was:

  • Welcomed – embraced
  • Accepted
  • Loved
  • Forgiven
  • Affirmed
  • Defended

So, how do you react to someone who is different than you are?

And … you react with your whole being

  • Your body language
  • Your words
  • Your attitude
  • Your actions

And, people “feel” your reaction as well as “see” your reaction

How do you respond to someone who is:

Living in adultery?

A murderer?

A child molester / sex offender?


A drug addict?

A Muslim?

This is not a surface thing – this is a “deep feel” – and people notice how you are responding / reacting

Would they immediately feel that they relationally belong?

Example: Cosmopolitan workers cleaning at Shoppers

People want to know: “Do you accept me as I am and am I free to become who I want to be?”

And, unless they FEEL unconditional love right from the start – you will not reach them

If you don’t have that real, deep love – you can’t fake it

Your posture, body language, “feel” will give away that you ar critical, judgmental…

And, your initial “judgment” as you unconsciously ‘size a person up’ may be totally wrong

Jim Manthei writes:

“I was sitting in my living room at Christmastime. I was looking at the Christmas tree, which was decorated and gorgeous. Then I looked out the window in the front yard and saw an apple tree, which, in December, where I live, looked totally dead. In reality, the Christmas tree was dead and soon would be thrown out. But the apple tree was really alive. In not too many months, it would bear fruit. This resembles some Christians. Some look alive, but they’re really dead. Others may look worn out, but they do produce fruit, they are really alive. It’s dangerous to judge on the surface.”

True for Christians – especially true with non-believers

First impressions can be deceiving

And, always remember, “A person needs to be loved the most when he deserves to be loved the least.”

Back to the “organic” Kingdom approach…

Belong – Believe – Build – Become – Behave

This “belong” in not an institutional “member” / someone who attends

It is a relational acceptance with unconditional love

If people don’t feel the love of Jesus (belong), they will never grow…

  • To believe – that Jesus is their Lord and Saviour
  • To build – going out and giving their testimony and thus helping to build the Kingdom
  • To become – all that God has designed them to be
  • To behave – as mature believers
  • So love, acceptance – belonging – is of first importance in today’s world and our current culture

Like the woman caught in adultery

  • Believe – yes
  • Build – yes
  • Become – yes
  • Behave – yes
  • But first – belong

So, we need to reach out daily and love those in front of us…

As John 3:16 states… “God so loved the world…

  • Not the Church
  • Not just the believers
  • Not the message

God so loved the world – so our mission is in the world and to the world

If we focus on that then God will deal with the rest and He will build His Church


If “belonging” is the key to seeing people come to a saving knowledge of the Lord – then what changes in the way that we do things and approach church need to change?

What changes do you need to make in your life?

End Notes:

The current generations:

  • GI Generation 1901 -1926
  • The Mature – Silent Generation 1927-1945
  • The Baby Boomers 1946-1964
  • Generation X 1965-1980
  • Generation Y / Millenniums 1981-2000
  • Generation Z / Boomlets 2001 to current date