Growing your Church: Inclusivity 

We continue our look at what makes church grow based on research across a wide selection of traditional denominations. Last week we looked at hospitality this week we consider inclusivity.

We are all part of a family, not just church, but the family we grew up in.  We never grew up in isolation. There are always people that cared for us to greater or lesser degrees, and perhaps for many of us family includes our close friends and even our pets!

A good family nurtures us from the point we find ourselves at. It seeks to find ways for us to flourish. Nurture is not just about meeting the basic needs, or even providing an opportunity for flourishing. It is at its best when showing an enduring love and championing of an individual or individuals.Edit
A growing church is inclusive! It may be obvious to some of us, yet it appears to be a lesson we still need to learn. in the way we cater for learning styles, and the different places people are on their walk with the Lord.

Growing churches recognise that the journey towards God and finding and continuing in faith is a long one. People access that pathway in different ways and at different places. Often depending on their age, Life experience, and even their own experience of church and of faith.

Inclusivity does not end with discipleship, it’s about maintaining and developing authentic and deepening relationships, both ecumenically and within the community that surrounds the church.

Paul reminds the Church in Corinth of exactly this point in chapter 12.  There is one body but it has many parts.  All its many parts make up one body. It is the same with Christ… the eye can’t say to the hand, ‘I don’t need you!’ The head can’t say to the feet, ‘I don’t need you’!… You are the body of Christ each one of you is part of it.

Paul is reminding this church about its nature of connectedness, because of the context it is within and the factions and divisions that have grown-up within it.

For us today as church, for us to flourish we perhaps need to put to one side our own sense of how things should be. Looking instead at how the journey is for other people. Connecting in with their walk with God and their journey.

Truly seeing people as family, means that we no longer see the role as primary in our relationship with the individual, but we see who they are. Like one a member of our own family we seek to find ways to connect with them, to help them flourish and help them to grow with the living God, whether they have been journeying for some time with him, or not sure even how to find him.

My own experience of inclusive church, is one that finds a place for me, where I feel at home, and where I grow and discover the kind of person God is calling me to become. It is also a church that reminds me as a disciple of the wider context it lives in, and invites me to join in.

 

Link to the research Leading Together in Growing Methodist Churches’ webpage can be found here

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