How to build genuine, real, deep, honest and authentic Christian relationships as a community of believers.
Part of the Love Your Church series.
Author Barnabas Piper states in the first chapter of his book:
“We are looking for something personal, something deeply meaningful, something with which we can identify. And this book is an invitation to find that in the church, because God wants us to …Part of God’s perfect strategy is offering hurting, tired, worn out, needy sinners like you and me a place to belong in … A place in which to encounter the profound, transformative, healing, restoring grace of Jesus Christ.”
This book explores how you can help to create a church where everybody feels at home: a place where fellow believers build genuine, honest, meaningful Christian relationships and enjoy deep fellowship as a community of believers.
You may be a new believer and wonder what it means to belong to a church; you may be reluctant to commit to your church because of past experiences; you may have recently relocated and want to find a church where you feel at home; or you may love your church and desire to commit to it more deeply and serve it more fully. Whatever the case, this book will help you to see that belonging to a church is a good gift from God, the outworking of our identity as brothers and sisters in Christ, and worth your time, love and commitment.
Perfect if you are a pastor looking to encourage your church members to treasure their church family and play their part in making it a place where everyone feels they belong.
This is one of the first books in the new Love Your Church series, which is being written by a collection of Bible teachers from Acts29. It is designed to inspire every church member to love their church in practical ways by casting a biblical vision of what it means to be a local community of God’s family. The series will explore what it means to belong, to welcome, to gather, to care, to serve and to honour one another, and to witness and send people out to spread the gospel.
Introduction: What Could Church Be?
1. What Does It Mean to Belong?
2. You Do Belong
3. What True Belonging Actually Looks Like
4. The Only Way It Happens
5. What Do I Do If…
6. Jesus, Friend of Sinners
|Barnabas Piper, Ray Ortlund
|The Good Book Company
Endorsement written for Belong
For too long, we have viewed church (whether consciously or not) as consumers. Barnabas provides a much-needed corrective to help us see and value what it means to belong. Here is wise counsel and radical yet biblical therapy for us all.
Endorsement written for Belong
The church of Jesus Christ is designed by God to be a celebration of the miracle of belonging. Because of the grace of Jesus, we belong to God and to one another. In a way that I have never read before, Barnabas Piper not only defines that belonging but also helps us to understand how to live with one another in a way that always reflects that, by grace, we together belong to God
Endorsement written for Belong
Barnabas Piper helpfully reminds us about what it really means to belong to a church family in a way that is full of heart and life. I highly recommend this book—it will challenge and inspire you to think differently about your church and love your church family more deeply and authentically.
We are using this in our church connect groups and it has been a good tool for improving our people love and commitment to each other.
This book discusses what many churches need: gospel community. Very thankful for this book and I look forward to studying it with my church.
What does it mean to belong to a church? That’s exactly what Piper explores in this book. Having read this while our family has been searching for a new church has been a huge blessing. Sometimes it feels hard to decide where to put down roots for our family to get connected to, grow with, and serve alongside a local body of believers. As humans, we tend to be self-focused. Even regenerate hearts still struggle with focusing on ourselves rather than on God. We tend to elevate our own preferences for church and what worship should look or feel like rather than what God says church should be. Granted, there’s a lot of “wiggle room” with certain aspects, but Piper reminds us to filter our expectations correctly. On page 88, Piper writes: “One final question to ask yourself is whether you are equating preferences with non-negotiables. It is easy to judge the “goodness” or “health” of a church by whether it fits our preferences. It is fine to have preferences about music, preaching style, small groups, Sunday-school classes, kids programs, or whatever. It is problematic when we make our preferences the righteous standard for a church. Your preferences do not supersede or define the aroma of Christ in a church.” And then a little further down the page: “But the church isn’t a provider of goods and services and we aren’t consumers, so we need a different value system for our preferences.”
“The proclamation of the gospel of Jesus Christ is the foundation on which any real church is built. A church cannot be healthy without biblically grounded, gospel-shaped preaching and teaching.” Pg 50
Our foundation is Christ. Our focus is Christ. Everything that flows from that should be Christ-centered.
It is one thing to attend church every Sunday and walk out of the door unnoticed, but are our local churches a place to truly belong? We as Christians have a responsibility to ensure that they are.
Piper goes through what belonging means based on scripture then unpacks what that should look like today.
My favorite part of all the Love Your Church Series books is that they contain Action Steps at the end of each chapter.
So often it can be easy to ascent to truths, but how are we practically living out these suggestions and commands?
I recommend reading the entire series individually and considering using them for small group resources at your local church. Each book has a small group guide in the back so it is very simple to utilize and you would not have to come up with your own discussion questions.
In this book, Barnabas Piper explores how Christians can experience belonging and build meaningful relationships in their local churches. He begins by sharing a story about his experience visiting a new church while suffering from a recent divorce and looking for a new church home. He shares that even though he felt like giving up on spiritual community, that church welcomed him the way that he was and made space for his negative feelings. Piper acknowledges how difficult it can be to truly connect with fellow church members, and shares biblical teaching and practical ideas to encourage readers and help them create a culture of belonging at church.
"Belong: Loving Your Church by Reflecting Christ to One Another" is the best book from the Love Your Church series, in my opinion, because of the author's heartfelt personal story and honesty about his own cynicism about the church at times. Also, although it may bother some people that Piper refers to institutional, systematic harm by a church as "rare," he helpfully differentiates between being hurt in the church from being hurt by the church, and shares reflection questions and action steps for processing your relationship to the church as a whole and other individuals in church.
Piper also includes helpful advice for when and how to leave a church due to a toxic church culture, or because of logistical or preferential reasons. One of my usual critiques of church-related books is that even though they may acknowledge reasons for leaving a church, they rarely walk you through how to approach this in real life. I appreciate Piper's attention to this neglected issue, and his thoughtful, logical advice for how to process different situations. Overall, I would recommend this book to people who are looking to deepen their view of church community or are recovering from a difficult church situation.
Note: I received a free copy from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
One of the best things about being part of our church family is the sense of belonging to something, of being known by others and loved as brothers and sisters in Christ. This new book by Barnabas Piper in the "Love Your Church" series captures some of that warmth for one another, giving us some theological truths and potential actions to make our church a place of belonging and relationship without it becoming exclusive or a clique. Hopefully you, like me, will come away smiling because it sums up what church is meant to be like and the realities of being part of your local church when it goes well! Let's pray that this is our reality more and more
The second book in the series by Barnabas Piper is titled Belong: Loving Your Church by Reflecting Christ to One Another (2023). Everyone has the desire to belong. We all want to be part of something bigger than ourselves. Yet often times we look in the wrong place to satisfy this desire. The local church is the place, above all others, where people should feel that they belong. Yet this is not always the case and we can do better. This is what Piper discusses in the book.
A major aspect of belonging is unity. We live a society today that is far from unified, even among followers of Jesus. Yet this is what the church is called to be. The church is to be different from the society in showing unity across differences. Christianity is not just the faith of majority culture, but is the good news of salvation to all who would believe. Unity comes not when everyone agrees on every aspect of church life, but when we agree on the biblical gospel as the only hope for the world. The local church, then is the place where we should find belonging as we practice the “one anothers” of the Bible. It is a place where we “stir one another to love and good works” (Hebrews 10:24, ESV).
The Love Your Church series is an excellent set of resources for church leaders and lay people alike. Each volume exhorts local churches to be what the church is called to be by Jesus. The church is an institution established by the Lord to propagate the gospel to the ends of the earth. Jesus promised that the gates of hell would not prevail against it (Matthew 16:18). This promise should give the church confidence in its mission, but also serve as a warning. It is only when we are standing on the biblical gospel, that we stand firm. For this reason, the church should be a place to gather for worship, find true belonging, and welcome others to come and find rest.
This is another new book in the Love Your Church series by The Good Book Company. This book focuses on how the church body can work together to make everyone feel as though they belong to the body of Christ.
The book is structured with six chapters, each describing some facet of biblical belonging within the Church body. Piper begins by discussing the "belong" actually means biblically. As he states within the first few paragraphs: "A person can be a member of a church without belonging, and a person can belong to a church that does not offer formal membership. The pressing questions is not about processes or polity but about connection to and closeness within the body of Christ."
Once again, the chapters conclude with action steps, one of my favorite parts of the book. Some of these questions are more reflection questions to ponder about your own life and actions within the church and how those could be adjusted to more biblically follow God's call to helping all belong. Others are much more practical and simple actions that can be practiced during your daily walk with Christ.
As a side note, Barnabas is the son of well known pastor, John Piper. This was my first reading of Barnabas Piper's own writing and I enjoyed his hint of wisdom taught by his earthly father but also his own style obviously gifted by the Father.
I appreciate that they include a small group guide accessible online for group study and discussion.
I received a copy of to this book from The Good Book Company in exchange for an honest review.