Believe. Belong. Bless.
Discipleship has been described as learning to become who Jesus would be if he were you.1
I love this definition of the Christian journey – it reminds us that it begins with Jesus – and is unique to each one of us. Whatever our age and stage, God intends that we will be growing and becoming more like Christ; while at the same time, becoming more fully the particular person He created us to be.
The question the new Discipleship & Community team has been considering all summer is this: how can we encourage every single person at First Pres to grow in Christ, no matter where they are in their journey of faith?
Eric Swanson is a local Christian leader who writes about how people grow spiritually. In a recent article, he highlighted the rhythm of discipleship found in the Celtic knot. “It’s a rhythm of helping people believe (initially and continually), belong (life-connection with other believers) and bless those who do not yet know Christ (Genesis 12:3, Psalm 67:7 kind of stuff).”2 He suggests that growing Christian disciples are intentionally engaged in all three practices at some level and some consistency. These practices may take just a couple moments each day, they may take much more time, but the hope is that they are a regular part of every Christian’s life.
Believe: connect with God
Belong: connect with and purposefully encourage another believer
Bless: speak words of life and hope into another person, especially someone who does not know God
When I first shared the ideas of “Believe. Belong. Bless.” with a young, stay-at-home mom who was wondering how she could continue to grow and serve in this particular season of life, her immediate response was, “I can do that!” What a great response. The truth is, we all can do that! God intends for each one of us to continue growing as a follower of Jesus throughout our whole life. Believe. Belong. Bless. is a simple but significant way for all us to engage in the ongoing, daily, journey of discipleship.
And while Believe, Belong, Bless can be very personal; it’s also a helpful way for us live in to Disciples Making Disciples, a primary focus area of our mission statement that calls us to follow Christ with and for the sake of others.
Last year I preached a sermon entitled “Belonging Before Belief” which referenced The Celtic Way of Evangelism by George G. Hunter III. Hunter’s work reveals that for most people in our culture, belonging to a Christian community often comes before believing in Christ. If this is the case, that belonging comes before believing, a primary ministry of the church is to welcome people to belong so that they can believe.
Belong. Believe. Bless.
And, with service being such a high value in our community, many people are introduced to the Christian community – and ultimately to Christ – because they experience blessing through the church. The Deacon’s Closet or the Thanksgiving Meal might be the first opportunity someone has to be blessed by God’s people, either as a server or as a guest. Experiencing blessing leads people to believe in the goodness of God.
Bless. Believe. Belong.
Whichever comes first, Believe. Belong. or Bless, imagine what would happen in Boulder if everyone in our church family was in the practice of connecting with God every day, encouraging another believer every day, and blessing a person outside the church every day. What might happen in our neighborhoods, schools, families, and workplaces?
Believe. Belong. Bless. is about simple but significant, day-to-day, habits of discipleship, that over time, and when done as a whole church family, have the possibility of deeply changing us, while at the same time preparing others to wonder, dialog, and explore the goodness of God. The 3Bs help us surrender our lives to Jesus. They challenge us to walk with God not only for ourselves, but also for others.
My hope is that this will be a new season of growth for us as a church and that we will trust God more fully while we Believe. Belong. and Bless together in Boulder.
Pastor of Discipleship and Community
1Dallas Willard, The Divine Conspiracy