Our blog

Measuring Belonging

Posted by Lucy Moore on 19 Jan 2016

Click image to view more

A reflection on the results of a survey showing church decline suggests that helping people know they belong is one way to help them know they're Christian. Mark Woods writes: 'But evangelicalism has to ask itself whether it's entirely helpful to remove people's sense of belonging by confronting them with a choice they might not be ready to make. A binary, in-or-out, adversarial gospel is not always very appealing. Is it possible to combine warm inclusivity with a full-blooded call to repentance and faith? It won't be easy, but without that sort of theological and pastoral effort the Church will be increasingly sidelined from the mainstream of public life and thought.'

With a core value of 'hospitality' belonging is at the heart of what we're trying to do in Messy Church. We  want people to be able to say with integrity and excitement, 'This is our church. This is our God. This is our story. This is our family. This is where we feel at home, accepted, known by name and free to take risks because we know that here we are most deeply loved.'

One problem we have is that it's very hard to measure how much people belong and feel they belong, which makes it hard to recognise that growth as discipleship. So the Messy team at BRF had a think and came up with not one but two measures! (I know, I know, your cup runneth over.) We proudly present The Belonging Barometer and The Belonging Benchmark. If we could draw, they would be far more fun to look at, but you can use your imagination. The Barometer might be turned into a graph and given to families occasionally over the mealtime to get a feel for their sense of belonging. The Benchmark might be something to use within the team as a tool to think through what exactly your families need to help them belong more; what the next step be might be. It's all part of making disciples.

Let us know what you think and whether it's fun and useful and appropriate to do in your context.

Belonging Barometer

On a scale of 0-10, how much do you feel you belong here?

What you do

I know where to go

I know what to do

I know when things happen

I know people's names

I join in 

I help when it's needed

I play, laugh and talk with people

What other people do

They know my name

They say hello

They know something about me

They include me in everything

They ask me to help

They play, laugh and talk with me

They miss me if I'm not there

They need me

What you feel inside

I don't have to pretend to be something I'm not

I know people love me just as I am

I know God loves me just as I am

I've got some good memories of this church

I look forward to being here in the days, weeks or years to come

I feel connected to the people here

I feel connected to Jesus here

It feels like a big family

I feel at home 

I need these people


Belonging Benchmark

Which section do your families and team members best fit into? And what could you put in place to help them move towards the next stage?

Just visiting Messy Church

No interest in church

Detached observer

Disengaged during activities, celebration and meal

No donation 

Detached attendance at Messy Church

Consumerist approach to Messy Church activities – just doing the easily accessible, fun activities

Occasional donations 

Involved attendance at Messy Church 

Keen to help, participates in prayer activities as well as 'fun' things

Takes the initiative

Alertness during Celebration

Regular financial donations

Invites others to Messy Church

Defends Messy Church in the face of opposition or criticism 

Friendship with team members outside Messy Church

Negative questions about faith

Positive questions about faith

Behaviour changes

Interest in wider church discipleship opportunities 

Expression of faith

Commitment to walking closer to Jesus (interest in the Bible, prayer, service...)

Financial commitment to God

Time commitment to church

Skills/gifts commitment

Commitment when going gets tough

Strategic as well as personal involvement in invitation