Action Zones 

Belonging Believing Behaving 

DONNA DODSON18th April 2022

Let me offer these ideas. How do you find yourself reacting to them?  

We used to belong to our denomination or our church in the sense of that’s where our commitment and identity lay.   Things are changing.  Now people want to belong in the sense of being known, heard, respected, and able to be our true selves
We used to be schooled in believing - the creed, a statement of faith, the four spiritual laws, whatever our minister taught us.  Things are changing.  Now people are looking for a faith that works for them. They want a faith that is relevant to the real lives they and others are living   And, shared values and honesty about our questions and the mysteries and challenges of faith) are held more strongly. Dogma is no longer trusted
We used to have clear and unquestioned ideas about how Christian people should behave.  Things are changing.  Not drinking, smoking, dancing (and a few other things that used to be the litmus test of Christian discipleship) are no longer even on most people's agendas.  Now, people are looking for authenticity, spirituality, personal growth, compassionate living, social justice, care for the planet.  Not so much about what we don’t do but what we should do 

These comparisons are possibly exaggerated but maybe show a sense of direction

I asked how you found yourself reacting.  Do these changes challenge or encourage you?  Do you identify strongly with the then or now?  Have your ideas about belonging, believing and behaving changed over time?  

I love reading, thinking and learning from Jesus in the gospels.  I see him engaged in leading his disciples on a journey similar to that which challenges today’s churches.  A journey that meets people where they are, responds with compassion to their needs, challenges the rigid and judgemental heart and insists on love in every situation.  And I offer you the thought that he is ahead of us as we navigate the changes in culture around us.  And so we can have courage to navigate different ways of offering belonging, different ways of exploring faith, different ways of demonstrating his love in our lives   

By the way, sociologists of religion all seem to agree that people generally experience their faith journey is this order.  First a growing sense of wanting to belong and feeling accepted (belonging), and then growing awareness of the way faith works (believing) and finally changes to values and lifestyle (behaving).  This could also be seen as a change from old style religion where we call people to repent of their behaviour, believe in Jesus and then (maybe) they can belong in church

May our Lord break down barriers and build bridges 
May our Lord translate ‘the faith we have taught into the faith in which we live
May our Lord lead us into the fullness of life 
Rev Donna Dodson
Norfolk Broads Methodist Circuit / based at Magdalen Way

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