Why Do You Belong?
by John Partridge
Written September 15, 2022 for the October Chimes Newsletter
NOTE: I wrote this last month for our church newsletter, got busy, and neglected to post it here until now. But, in a way, I’m glad I did because it reminded me to follow up. And I needed the reminder because although this was sent to everyone at Christ Church, I haven’t (yet) had a single reply. And I really do want to hear your answers. So go ahead and read what follows, but when you’re done, let me know WHY do you choose to attend church where you do?
I started thinking about my topic for this message and thought it would be a reminder to invite others to church, your neighbors, friends, co-workers, and other people that you might casually encounter during your day. But as I thought about what that reminder might sound like, my train of thought went from “Invite your friends” to “What should we say?” to “Why do we like it here?” And so, although my intent is still to encourage every person at Christ Church to be invitational, I realize that we don’t automatically know how to do that. We freeze up when we try to think of something sparklingly witty to say, or even just when we desperately try to find something to say that doesn’t sound stupid or silly.
Toward that end, I thought I should start my asking you all to think, not about how you would invite someone else, but to think about why you choose to come here. Some of you come here because you’ve been members for more years than I have been alive. Others of you come because your parents and grandparents and other extended family all come here. I get that. On the surface. But I also know that there is a deeper reason. There have been times when people left Christ Church. There were times that were hard, and that were sometimes… unpleasant.
And yet you persisted. Why? What is it about Christ Church that attracted you here? What is it that made you stay when others were leaving? What is it about Christ Church that makes you choose to worship here rather than in churches that are closer to your homes, or might otherwise be more convenient? Christ Church has a lot to offer, but I’m not going to share my ideas with you just yet. I want you to think about your deeper reasons for being here because those are the reasons that you will want to have prepared when you have an opportunity to invite someone to visit here.
For this month, that’s it. That’s my invitation to each one of you. Don’t answer for your children, or for your parents, or for anyone else. Just think about your answer. Why are you here? Why have you stayed here? Why do you like it here? What is it about Christ Church that gives you joy? Don’t answer right away. Think about for a day, or a week. Then I want you to write it down. I want you to write it down and put it somewhere that you can look at it from time to time, in the bathroom where you’ll see it while you brush your teeth or use it as a bookmark for the book you’re reading, but put it somewhere that you’ll see it, and by seeing it, you’ll begin to internalize it. That way when the opportunity presents itself for you to invite someone, you will know why you want to come here and why you like it here. That it. There’s no need to overthink it and make it difficult. When you invite people to church, the easiest thing to do is to tell them why you like it here.
And, after you’ve done that, if you feel like sharing, I’d love to fill this space in a month or two with a bunch of your answers.
That’s it. Please respond in the comments, or by email, snail mail, or hand me a note at church, but let me know what you think. Why do you go to church in the place you have chosen? Why are you here? Why have you stayed here? Why do you like it here? What is it about Christ Church (or wherever you go) that gives you joy?
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