Community, Belonging, and the Church
I am looking for some help writing a paper for seminary. Specifically, the class is based on Joe Myers’ book The Search to Belong and we’re looking at the nature of belonging and factors that contribute to one’s sense of belonging in various spaces; public, social, personal and intimate.
During one of our class times, the facilitator suggested (and I agree) that we belong to groups and people in different ways - each of which constitutes a meaningful connection in some way, shape or form. He suggested that people have the capacity (and do in reality) belong to many different groups simultaneously. In recent history, however, it seems that many associate belonging or membership to only one congregation. That seems to be changing with younger generations…as I know many people that participate in services or events at several different churches, not to mention participation in parachurch organizations and online blogs, etc.
Is this really a generational/philosophical (postmodern) shift - or have people always belonged to multiple communities? How is the complexity of society contributing to changes in the way we belong to people, groups, churches? What are some of the postmodern views on ecclesiology? Is it ok for people to belong to several different congregations simultaneously? Does belonging constitute Biblical community? social community? Are they different or the same? If churches accomodate increasing numbers of congregants in their desire to belong to multiple faith communities, how might this affect the structure of traditional churches and church networks? Is there Biblical foundation for belonging in multiple communities? Is there Biblical foundation for belonging to one congregation only? Are there any issues I am overlooking that might be important to the discussion?
As a relatively young Christian and an aspiring theologian, I admit my limited understanding and knowledge of the various issues related to this discussion. I have opinions and gut feelings regarding the various issues…but I am hoping for feedback on the questions listed above. I hope this post isn’t an abuse of the purpose of this website. If so - please forgive the intrusion…