Measuring Belonging

Published 19th January 2016 by lucy moore

A reflection on the results of a survey showing church decline suggests that helping people know they belong is one way to help them know they’re Christian. Mark Woods writes: ‘But evangelicalism has to ask itself whether it’s entirely helpful to remove people’s sense of belonging by confronting them with a choice they might not be ready to make. A binary, in-or-out, adversarial gospel is not always very appealing. Is it possible to combine warm inclusivity with a full-blooded call to repentance and faith? It won’t be easy, but without that sort of theological and pastoral effort the Church will be increasingly sidelined from the mainstream of public life and thought.’
With a core value of ‘hospitality’ belonging is at the heart of what we’re trying to do in Messy Church. We  want people to be able to say with integrity and excitement, ‘This is our church. This is our God. This is our story. This is our family. This is where we feel at home, accepted, known by name and free to take risks because we know that here we are most deeply loved.’
One problem we have is that it’s very hard to measure how much people belong and feel they belong, which makes it hard to recognise that growth as discipleship. So the Messy team at BRF had a think and came up with not one but two measures! (I know, I know, your cup runneth over.) We proudly present The Belonging Barometer and The Belonging Benchmark. If we could draw, they would be far more fun to look at, but you can use your imagination. The Barometer might be turned into a graph and given to families occasionally over the mealtime to get a feel for their sense of belonging. The Benchmark might be something to use within the team as a tool to think through what exactly your families need to help them belong more; what the next step be might be. It’s all part of making disciples.
Let us know what you think and whether it’s fun and useful and appropriate to do in your context.
Belonging Barometer
On a scale of 0-10, how much do you feel you belong here?
What you do
I know where to go
I know what to do
I know when things happen
I know people’s names
I join in 
I help when it’s needed
I play, laugh and talk with people
What other people do
They know my name
They say hello
They know something about me
They include me in everything
They ask me to help
They play, laugh and talk with me
They miss me if I’m not there
They need me
What you feel inside
I don’t have to pretend to be something I’m not
I know people love me just as I am
I know God loves me just as I am
I’ve got some good memories of this church
I look forward to being here in the days, weeks or years to come
I feel connected to the people here
I feel connected to Jesus here
It feels like a big family
I feel at home 
I need these people
Belonging Benchmark
Which section do your families and team members best fit into? And what could you put in place to help them move towards the next stage?
Just visiting Messy Church
No interest in church
Detached observer
Disengaged during activities, celebration and meal
No donation 
Detached attendance at Messy Church
Consumerist approach to Messy Church activities – just doing the easily accessible, fun activities
Occasional donations 
Involved attendance at Messy Church 
Keen to help, participates in prayer activities as well as ‘fun’ things
Takes the initiative
Alertness during Celebration
Regular financial donations
Invites others to Messy Church
Defends Messy Church in the face of opposition or criticism 
Friendship with team members outside Messy Church
Negative questions about faith
Positive questions about faith
Behaviour changes
Interest in wider church discipleship opportunities 
Expression of faith
Commitment to walking closer to Jesus (interest in the Bible, prayer, service…)
Financial commitment to God
Time commitment to church
Skills/gifts commitment
Commitment when going gets tough
Strategic as well as personal involvement in invitation

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