There is an old paradigm about how to do church. Church was, at one time, the place where Christians would go to "belong." There was the need to be connected to something, to be a part of something. The church was our place, our community, our safe sanctuary where everyone knew our name and they were glad we came. The old paradigm revealed how the local church could be a place where we felt included and accepted just as we are. The local church was a place where we felt safe and secure. The local church was the place where we felt warmth and caring. That was the old paradigm. There is a new paradigm. No longer is the local church a place where we meet our needs for belonging. Now the local church is a place where we find "meaning." The local church is a risk taking place. There are plenty of places where we can belong, the Lions club, the Junior League, the Optimist club, the glee club, our neighborhood association, and even our alumni association. We can be coaches for our kids' athletic teams, big brothers and big sisters, as well as museum docents. There are innumerable places where we can be a part of a group, where we can belong. The church no longer needs to fill the role of belonging.
The local church needs to be the place where we find meaning. Where we get connected with ministries that matter and we participate in activities that will transform the world. The local church is not the place where we go to belong, it is the place where we feed the hungry, welcome the stranger, afflict the comfortable and comfort the afflicted. The church is the place where, in the name of Jesus, we do the work that will change the world. It is a limited vision which describes church membership as the destination for belonging. The local church is a place which helps us find meaning.
Always remember, the church is the only organization that does not exist for the benefit of its members