I’ve been in a reading mood this Thanksgiving break, and I finished Joe Myers’ The Search to Belong this evening at JAVA. There were many reasons why I loved this book [one being that I only found 2 grammatical errors in this emergentYS publication — thank you!] — I haven’t read much about theories of belonging — so it was great to learn some new things in that area and pick up some new language. Myers looks at the idea that people experience “belonging” in basically 4 different spaces/spheres: public, social, personal and intimate. In today’s congregations, many times we seem to focus on only one, or two of these spaces. We also view some of these as more important than others [e.g. intimacy is, of course, more important than social spaces — social spaces consist only of superficial interactions — or so we have been taught to think]. Myers is encouraging church leaders to look at providing harmony within all 4 spaces for people. With the small group movement, people are told that the best [and possibly, the only] way they can continue to grow in the relationship with God and others, is through a small group [which would be personal/intimate spaces]. This is not always the case for many people – as the general statistic for churches who are making a huge “small group” push states: they are shooting for 100% involvement, but most churches are averaging a 30-35% success rate.
Myers also touches on the fact that these 4 spaces are also not to be viewed as a “process”: we don’t just assume that we will be able to take everyone who comes to our church and move them through…public, okay, join the social, great, now we can move on to personal, wonderful, you’re almost there…intimate, here we come…But that we need to be sensitive to peoples’ needs for belonging and we need to understand that they may belong in different ways than we would have assumed.
Many aspects of this book interested me and I would definitely encourage you to check this one out — boy, this sounds like a book report. I think I’ll end it here.