By David W. Graves
The need to belong is perhaps the most powerful emotional need experienced in modern times. Society continues to fragment, families disintegrate, and technology isolates until the opportunities to truly belong become more and more limited.
But the need to belong has not diminished. Today, individuals are seeking those places where they can belong, and then giving themselves fully to the relationships they find. It is by targeting inclusion that our church can establish its ministry. By becoming a place of belonging, the local church opens itself up to ever-broadening opportunities to proclaim its message – a message of love and belonging in the family of God. However, the big question is: “How does the church establish this kind of ministry?”
It begins by regularly initiating and developing relationships with unchurched people. We need to ask ourselves “How many unchurched people do we have a personal relationship with?”
I can already tell you that most of us who have been in the church for a long time would have to answer “none.” It seems that the longer we are Christ-followers the more disconnected we get with those who are not – and that is a real problem. The same is true for many pastors.
We cannot possibly hope to reach people for Christ if we are not developing a friendship with them. If I don’t have any non-Christian friends, how can I tell anyone about Christ?
This is the biggest detriment to fulfilling the Great Commission that we have today – we don’t know any non-Christians well enough to share the gospel with them. Jesus went out of His way – and we must go out of our way – to build real friendships with people outside of the church.
By building relationships with people, Jesus can use us to change their lives.