I said last wednesday that I would write a short summary of Joe Myers’ the seach to belong so that I could be sure that I’m understanding him right. (but this may not be short; and i’ll try to distinguish summary of Joe’s thoughts with my own relfections). here are the first three chapters.
he begins like this. “If there is one converstain with which the emerging church must wrestle in new ways, it is the questin, “who is my neighbor?” Who belongs? For whom am I responsible? and who is responsible to me?”(p.6) To this I give a hearty amen. Though his book joe seeks to provide us with a “language of belonging” through which we can speak about community, friends, family, and the church.
The first chapter debunks the myth of belonging which are 1) More time = more belonging: even if we spend more time with someone/group doesn’t mean authentic community will emerge. 2) More commitment = more belonging: the demand for commitments (in small group/churches) does means will connections occur. and signigicant connections can happen w/o being close friends. 3) More purpose = more belonging: having purpose driven small groups or teams doesn’t ensure connect either b/c their might not be an intrinsic motivation to it. 4) More personality = more belonging: extroverts might not feel that they belong; introverts can have a wonderful sense of belonging. 5) More proximity = more belonging: geographical proximity doesn’t necessarily creater greater community; nor distance lessen it. “Distance” defined by physical space is all perspective. 6) More small group = more belonging: pastor/churches might say “if you want to really know our church, then join a small group” implying that this is best for “authentic community.” but usually there is only about 30% congregational involvement, so people must be participating in “authentic community” so where else more comfortable for them. All of us have and are dazzled by these myths.
The second chapter investigates everyones “longing for belonging.” To define belonging joe says, “Belonging happens when you identify with another entitiy- a person or organization, or perhaps a species, culture, or ethnic group” (p.25). However, belonging is not always reciprocated. Those that we think we belong to might not think we do b/c every community has its own ruleof belonging. These rule indicate who and how one belongs, and many times turns into rules of exclusion. Yet, just as Jesus redefined who a neighbors is, so too must we redefine how we belong and who/hoe people belong to us- for really these are the same questions. “The question ‘who is my neighbor?’ guides the church to its fundemental calling. And defining ‘neighborhood’ has been one of the primary tasks for the church throughout its history. And in this postmodern, post-evangelical blip in time, we still struggle to guide people toward a healthy experience of community and belonging.” and with that he leads us into chapter three and the “spaces of belonging”(p.30).
but that will be for another time b/c dinner is really. i’ll get back to this soon.