the big bees

I don't often have the opportunity to wander through a pentecostal megachurch, but I did so yesterday. I was arrested by this bold, beautiful affirmation of biblical truth adorning different walls within the sprawling church buildings. So compelling.


I've been here before on this blog, twelve years ago (with such helpful additional comments from others), discussing the right order for 'believe, belong, behave'. On that occasion, Baptist churches in New Zealand were on my mind. It was so common for people to affirm that the order should be 'belong-believe-behave'. What?! How is it possible for the New Testament to sustain that order? Here is a little extract of what I wrote back then...
If I understand the way the word 'belonging' is used today, it is a community word. If people are to believe, they first need to feel like they belong. It is all about relationships. The crucial step in evangelism is creating a sense of community before there is too much talk of believing anything. Is that fair? If it is I have some questions. If there can be a belonging before there is a believing how does that belonging compare with the belonging that believing creates? You better read that one again! Surely that first belonging can only be a pale imitation of the second belonging? So why is it receiving so much emphasis today - to the detriment of the second belonging?
I love what these pentecostals have done.

First, they've got the order right by starting with believing. Then they've deleted 'behaving' and gone with 'becoming' and 'building'. Don't you like that? Nothing is lost. So much is gained. 'Becoming' captures the gradual journey into Christlikeness, while 'building' is suggestive of so much - be it the deepening maturity and 'one-another' ministries within the church, or the mission ministries bridging into the community.

Goodness me - even more big bees are buzzing. These pentecostals have got me going. I am on a roll.  A couple more come to mind. #5 could be 'bridge'. #6 could be 'bless', as in the Abrahamic 'blessed to be a blessing' (Genesis 12.1-3). Now we're talking.
Believe ... Belong ... Become ... Build ... Bridge ... Bless.

nice chatting

Paul

Comments

Paul Burton said…
Maybe bless could be first, capturing some of the intent of in putting belonging first, the idea we will bless you before you believe so you can see benefits of believing, belonging, becoming, building etc.
Paul said…
I see what you are saying, Paul. That's good. Helpful to see blessing early on...

The 'blessing' becomes then a bit like the 'belonging', doesn't it? There is something true/necessary about both of these Bs near the beginning - especially in the NZ context - but let's not forget that the blessing and the belonging near the beginning is a pale shadow of the blessing and belonging that occurs as the believing/becoming/building takes root in the lives of individuals and local churches. If we don't want to name it as a mere shadow, then what value is there in the later, fuller experience of the gospel? Why bother? If people want to make blessing and belonging so special at the beginning, what is so special about what is yet to come - namely, the blessing and belonging that flows out from believing-becoming-building?

That is my concern. It is a very big issue, one that goes right to the heart of the transforming power of the gospel and the hope we place in it...

Paul
Fred Brunell said…
Hey Paul - only stumbled across this post today. Thanks. My friends at CIC will delighted (as I was) to read it...

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