Thoughts on “Belong Before Believe”

People belong to a group based on its actions, more than its words. They choose to belong to a group when that group does things that they want to get on board with.

Every group that people belong to outside of church does stuff. Clubs, sports leagues, civic organizations… people join them to do, not to be.

If your church is putting “belong before believe” language in their marketing, you’re missing out on the wonderful opportunity that clubs and organizations are capitalizing on. Because in doing that, you’ve just created “us” and “them.”

In clubs and other organizations, there’s only “us.” And the pitch to join in is always built around the action. If you join in, you belong.

If you want to make people feel more interested in participating in the life of your church – regardless of how much of your theology they believe – just start doing things that make people want to join in, and tell everyone that they’re welcome to join in with you.

If what you’re doing is attractive, then people will join you.

Tourists or Pilgrims 

Pilgrims are seeking a purpose. Tourists are seeking an experience. A tourist might love the experience, rave over it, document it, relive it. But they aren’t committed to it.

Tourists share experiences but they don’t construct them. They’re in it temporarily, not for the long haul. Tourists are consumers at heart.

Pilgrims are on a mission. They have a goal, a purpose of becoming a different person. Pilgrims make things happen. They’re in it for the long haul.

Winning brands treat their audiences like pilgrims, not tourists.

Meet Winston

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This is Winston. He is a French Bulldog who belongs to my wife’s cousin. He’s also our houseguest for the next 6 days. It’s hard to get a picture of Winston, because he doesn’t really sit still. Ever.

Winston is what you would call an active dog. Being 1 year old, this is normal. It’s just that our dog Gus, at age 1, acted more like a piece of furniture than a dog. He’s almost three now, and we manage to keep him nicely out of shape. Gus is not an active dog.

Winston is not neutered. As any dog person knows, young, un-neutered male dogs do one thing more than anything else; they hump. They’ll hump other dogs, people’s legs, furniture, even a kids’ toy, if it’s big enough. It’s not pretty.

Gus was neutered as early as the vet would let us, so he’s never really been one to “assume the dominant position” on other dogs, or anything else, for that matter.  This whole humping thing is new to us. And while Gus has been around plenty off other dogs before, he has probably never been around a humper like Winston.

Luckily, Winston is much smaller than Gus, so it doesn’t get to him much. The only time it it’s a major problem is when Gus lies down, because that allows Winston to hop right up on Gus’s head. Not surprisingly, Gus finds this annoying. The kids find it pretty funny though, since they are young and don’t really understand why Winston keeps trying to wrestle with Gus’s head. They think Winston just wants to go for a ride on Gus’ shoulders or something, or maybe he wants Gus to wear him like a hat. A “doggie hat,” as the kids called it.

When Winston isn’t playing doggie hat with Gus, he is doing the other thing he does a lot: barking.

Gus isn’t much of a barker. He will bark when someone comes to the door, or if a car pulls in the driveway. Winston barks at the rotation of the earth. He also likes to direct his barking at the kids, which slightly freaks them out. It’s as if he’s trying to warn them, sternly, that they are in danger from the earth’s rotation, and if they don’t comply with his warning to leave the earth, he’ll have to nip them. This isn’t endearing.

Winston is small, and resembles one of our favorite Disney characters, Stitch. You would think that would endear Winston to the girls, but at this point they think he’s more like the six-armed-alien-troublemaker Stitch than the lovable-Elvis-impersonating Stitch.

If there was a “just pooped a couple times in the kitchen” Stitch, Winston would really resemble him.

Winston has been at our house for 12 hours.

 

Update, post-Winston: Winston was at our house for 5 days. By the third day, he had settled down quite a bit, and become a lot easier to manage. While we weren’t exactly sad to see him go, the kids added him to our “…and God bless…” bedtime prayers.