Culture Words: Welcome and Belonging

Let’s talk about culture. Last week we defined culture (in the way we’re talking about it, at least), as the way a community looks, sounds, acts… you could says it’s the way a community feels when you’re a part of it (or when you’re just getting to know it). And we introduced some words that describe how we want our community to feel. A couple of really important words in that list are WELCOME and BELONGING. At Hope, we want to build a culture of welcome and belonging.

To belong is to feel at home. To be welcomed is to be brought in. A culture of welcome and belonging is one that feels as though the people around you genuinely like the fact that you’re there. As Christians, however, we’ve often gotten this a little backward. Here’s what I mean.

Our paradigm for belonging has often been: believe—> then behave —> then you belong. The belonging only happens after you’ve accomplished the other two.

Our goal at Hope is to work the equation the other way around. We want people to belong before they behave or believe. We want folks to feel at home whether they are convinced or unconvinced of the Truth we proclaim. We want them to feel like we genuinely want them around whether or not they act exactly like we do. The primary reason for this, of course, is because Jesus welcomed people like that. He called to himself the sick and needy. He welcomed the sinner and the outcast. He brought us into his family before we cleaned ourselves up. We’re called to do the same.

But this emphasis (and this reversal of the cultural norm) has another goal as well: we think it changes people. We believe that welcome and belonging often lead to belief, and belief to behavior. It’s the way the Gospel goes to work on us.

Here’s the challenge for this week—do something to make another feel like they belong. It’s these small steps that build the culture we (and the Lord) desire at Hope.

See you Sunday,

Derek