Belong, Believe, Become

From Chapter 9: Mindset Shift #3 – Church Is Our Home, Not Just a House


Here’s the third mindset shift needed if you want to reach this generation. Traditionally, for a person to join a church, he or she goes through this sequence:

Believe → Become → Belong

He must first Believe, then Become a Christian. Let me add another “B” word, Behave. We expect the youth to Behave to our standards and expectations. And when we are satisfied, then we extend our fellowship and offer him church membership. It’s almost like he is on probation until finally approved. Only then do we open our circle for him to Belong.

This is not going to work for the young generation.
The youths want to know and feel that they Belong first, then they decide if they want to Believe and Become a Christian. This should be the sequence:

Belong → Believe → Become

In HOGC, after the youths feel like they Belong, they tend to take the next step to Believe. In case you haven’t noticed, kids are not really into theology. They don’t really care if your church teaches pre-tribulation rapture or can recite the Nicene Creed backwards. When they Belong, they find it easier to Believe in Christ.

Here’s what we found in HOGC. When the youths Belong and Believe, they will almost naturally Become and Behave. Then we usually don’t have to tell them to do this and stop doing that.

Wait… does it sound familiar in the Bible?
How did Matthew the tax collector “become” Matthew the disciple?
In Matthew 9, Jesus made him feel that he belonged… invited him to follow… went to his house, and hung out with him and his disreputable friends. In Matthew 10, the Bible announced the list of disciples and guess who was on that legendary list? Notice the sequence? Belonging first, then behaving like a Christian, and becoming a disciple.

Don’t get me wrong. Believing and behaving and becoming are all very important. But perhaps we got the sequence wrong. When the sequence is out of order, people feel judged. When we send people the vibe that only if you behave then you can belong, they feel discriminated against. But when the sequence is right, Matthew becomes a great disciple, Zacchaeus becomes a generous giver and that woman at the well becomes a great evangelist.

So we have youths coming to church regularly for a whole year before believing and becoming Christians. It’s a strange sight. Youths with cigarette breaths, boys spewing vulgarities, and girls spewing cleavages coming to HOGC regularly. (That’s why we keep our air-conditioning super cold, hopefully the girls will put on more layers 😬.)
We also have completely introverted and disengaged youths and you would think they are not interested, yet they come back week after week.

Geek, goth, gangster, hypebeast, hipster – they all come because they feel like they belong.

Then it begins to happen. Weeks and months later they start giving their hearts and lives to Jesus. When you visit HOGC, you will see 40–50 hands lifted up, responding to the altar call each service. Don’t be mistaken. Most of these people are not first or second-time visitors. Many have been attending our services for months and on that day, they are finally ready to take that next significant step.

For all the pastors, preachers, and leaders reading this – this mindset shift is a game changer. It relieves us of the pressure to “get them saved” on their first visit. You are no longer on a 40-minute countdown to “close the deal” immediately. Now your initial goal is just to make the youths feel that they belong so that they will keep coming back.

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