Beliefs, Behaviour and Belonging

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Joined in 2007
January 5, 2008, 21:42

I have just come across something really interesting that I want to share to see if it actually checks out in experience or is merely one of those ‘sociological explanations of behaviour’ that have more to do with sociologists having way too much free time on their hands than actual fact.

Some of you may have heard of, or been lucky enough to meet, Debra Hirsch who worked church planting in Melbourne and was loosely affliated with Liberty until recently when she moved to LA. Anyway, I found a CD of one of her talks from 2006 and she uses a sociological model to argue for acceptance of all kinds of minorities within the church. It goes something like this:

Every person has three basic qualities in common, the three B’s:




So everyone wants to belive in something whether in be religion or science or astrology or whatever, we all adopt behaviour patterns that are generally influenced by our beliefs and we all want a sense of belonging.

Debra then applies this to different generations which for the sake of clarity I will define as older, middle and younger. Bear in mind too that these are big genralisations but then what is sociology if not based on generalisations. It was said that each generation ranked these qualities in order of importance and what was least important to the previous generation would become most important to the following one. Let’s use Christianity and the church as our framework. The older generation prized behaviour, being a Christian meant being “good” showing your faith through the things you did. Belonging came second and generally there were many social activities connected with the church other Christians became your friends. Belief came in last, not that they lacked belief as such but spohisticated theology was not needed. Jesus loved them and died for them was enough.

So then comes the middle generation and they adopt the least importnat quality as of highest importance. Suddenly an apologetic phenomenon sweeps the nation and its very importnat to know what you believe and why you believe it. Conversions are made on intellectual grounds. Behaviour is also important because from this systematic and organised belief system behaviour naturally stems but last is belonging. People find it hard to talk about spiritual things and it becomes a very private and personal matter that is not discussed freely.

Last is the younger generation in which belonging is of prime significance. Suddenly Church names are changed from “Nowheresville Presbyterian Chruch” to “Uniting Church” and all the youth sub-cultures blossom, people need to feel as if they belong. The burst pf psychology books to teach you how to ‘know yourself’ and ‘connect with others’ also factors in. Converions happen through realtionships, if other Christians don’t walk the walk as well as talk the talk then this generation isn’t interested. Debra’s point in the end was to talk about how these three generations make up the Church today and how belonging should always be of prime importance because belonging requires relationship and acceptance which is the root of Christianity.

The reason I posted all of that and if your still with me and havn’t fallen asleep yet (appoligies for the length) was to ask do you think this is true? We all know that generally different generations have different priorities but is this an accurate depiction and are the links between them (that the following generation adopts the least prized quality of the previous generation) actually true? If so what difference should this knowledge make to the way we run our churches?

Joined in 2007
January 6, 2008, 08:31


I have heard Debra speak on this too and I tend to agree that it is true.

When I look back at my grandparents and parents generation they went to church and the ouside wokings showed their belief.

I suppose I could say I am from the middle where I want to know why I belive with what is taught. I dont just accept what is preached from the pulpit but endeavour to find out in the Word for myself what is said.But I am very open to spirituality and talking about it comes easily whereas some of the middle generation in my church do keep it as a private and personal thing.

Thirdly my children are deftniently wanting the belonging and relationship and to hang around like minded peole.

So i think on a sociology point yes its right but how do we apply that in church.

In all 3 stages I think that belonging is not quite in the right oreder everyone wants to belong (be accepted) the older generation got there sense of acceptence by acting the part.

the middle generation get there acceptance from knowing what they talk about and believe.

The younger generation get there acceptance from their peers.

I guess when I look at it from the church I attend it still is the same the youth hang out do things together and have there own youth night service every second week.

The middle generation tend to do the courses on spiritual gifts and anything else where they can learn and discuss their beliefs and the older generation are still there making the morning teas and helping to do things that need doing.

Joined in 2007
January 6, 2008, 10:28

LOL you are so right! I never made that connection before. The youth generally do have their own service, most participants in courses are from the middle group and the older generation ‘do’ all the things that need doing.

You are right too about them all having aspects of belonging but I guess what Debra was getting at is Christianity, the Bible and God himself, fundamentally is about relationship. Relationship with all people young, old and somewhere in between. I would have used relationship insted of belonging but then the three B’s thing wouldn’t have worked…

Because relationship is at the heart of everything it’s always going to be there like you said, and it manifests itself in different ways. What hopefully we will see in the future is not relationship based on cominalities in behaviour or belief, age or interest but in Jesus which leads into Debra’s other model of a Centered Set church… but I think thats a story for another day. Thanks so much for your thoughts Jozzie, it’s great to have you on the forum! 😀

Joined in 2006
January 6, 2008, 12:11

yay……….so good to see that the point about it being about r/ship is taking hold more, our own personal r/ship will be different one person to the next with God but the word will always remain across the board and so important to understand it for how it was written and the context and what testament we now live out of.

Joined in 2006
January 6, 2008, 16:03

The one thing Jesus did and did so well was have relational contact with people. When he called his disciples, it wasnt based on ” ok you you and you come with me because the torah says this about me and such and I am a Rabbi now and I have the truth and am in authority over you ” he just said “follow me” and they did… why? I dont know but they did.

He came as an ordinary person (which is why the Jews didnt see he was the promised King) and they just hung together, they talked and really they basically witnessed him doing “stuff” that was either amazing or hard to understand or a little left of the law at times but they were intrigued but he also shared certain things with them personally one to one from what I can gather, he was just being “himself” “Jesus”…….The revelation of Jesus being the Christ came later as we know thru Peter but he also messed that up a little in the same breath but the point is, they got to know Jesus first and the revelation came later.

Then he dies and they are stunned and probably mortified “what now?” but then he is seen alive and promises them something that happens about 2 weeks later and suddenly they are empowered to continue his work and even want to, since they have been commissioned for one and having spent 3 years or so with him know him and what he wouldve done in certain circumstances although as we know like Peter for eg. they needed some clarity about who to accept into the new “way” ( the vision at cornelius’s house, that all are inclusive and acceptable and notice how God used something that Peter understood to mean inclusion such as food and what food had to do with people I dont know but Peter got it and thats all that matters, the yucky unacceptable was acceptable to God for his Salvation since Jesus didnt change what the food was but made it acceptable, it was coated with salvation and it made it right).

My point with all this????? For many people, we as christians will be the only Jesus people will ever know and who we are will speak louder than words, then usually the questions come, then they will maybe discover Jesus for themselves and start a r/ship with him too but we must remember, like the disciples, people need time to get to know someone and trust them and understand certain things, we cant be impatient and make them do things they are not ready for because if we do they will just go straight back to it or rebel and thing is, Im sure anyone who has been a christian for more than 5 mins knows that sure we can have the best r/ship with Jesus and hear him in every way for our own lives but to truly know him will take a lifetime and eternity.

It is all about r/ship, Jesus was all about r/ship and “relating” with and to the people and knew how to relate the truth in a way that was simple. He never said “believe in me” first, no all he said was follow me or in our terms “hang with me” and the rest just happened naturally over time. The letters that later became the new testament(and part of the old testaments second half and the bible), were what was written to certain places that needed guidance and a semi diary (like acts) for whatever reason and is possible for us to learn from as well in context.(just my thoughts and perception about certain things loosely explained otherwise i will be here all day lol wink )

Joined in 2007
January 6, 2008, 16:26

Hey Sandy,

Thanks for the welcome. I look forward to more discussions!!You seem to be a bit of a legend round here LOL..

Hey Mags, lI agree with what hou were saying . It all comes down to the fact that Jesus is not into religion but relationship !!

Joined in 2007
January 6, 2008, 18:41

There are some really great people on this site who are a spring of information, prayer and laughter. Seems you are already well aquainted with a few anyway so I probably don’t need to tell you.

I am not a legend people just tend to have… uh ‘big feelings’ about me 😆 I’m working on some tact but its a process. I changed my signature to remind myself of God’s commands on conversation and coincidently relationship with others, something we all need to constantly work on I think.

January 6, 2008, 18:52

Hopefully the next generation is also a B, for Bullshit. People will realise that religion is a farce and is the cause of most of the misery and strife in the world.

Joined in 2006
January 6, 2008, 21:05

That verse in corinthians is one of my motto’s Sandy I love it and try to live by it. wink

Joined in 2007
January 6, 2008, 22:08

So what other motto’s do you have Maggie? 😉

i remember some of the less mentionable ones that used to come out of my mouth before I became a Christian, the secular gay community seems big on mottos… Maybe you can educate me with some cleaner more wholesome phrases 😆 I like things that rhyme by the way… Do you know any rhyming ones? Corney I know. 😀

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