A Place to Belong

By Alan Raughton, Pastor of Christian Education & Discipleship | August 3, 2023

“Why should I join Nashville First Baptist Church?”

I’ve been asked that question many times. Sometimes it’s said with genuine curiosity – “I attend regularly. Explain to me what membership is all about.” Other times it’s said with a tinge of suspicion – “So, tell me again, why do you think I should become a member?” – as if joining Nashville First automatically signs you up for online giving.

Many believers agree that Christianity is not a Lone Ranger religion, but that God instills in us a need for community and fellowship with other Christians.

Mark Dever, in his book Nine Marks of a Healthy Church, writes,

Church membership is our opportunity to grasp hold of each other in responsibility and love. By identifying ourselves with a particular church, we let the pastors and other members of that local church know that we intend to be committed in attendance, giving, prayer, and service. We allow fellow believers to have great expectations of us in these areas, and we make it known that we are the responsibility of this local church. We assure the church of our commitment to Christ in serving with them, and we call for their commitment to serve and encourage as well.

Church membership is important. It’s a way to make visible your commitment to Jesus Christ and His people. It’s a way of saying, “I am part of something bigger than myself. I am not just one of 500 individuals. I am part of the body of Christ at Nashville First Baptist Church.”  In addition, church membership keeps us accountable. As members at Nashville First we offer ourselves to one another to be encouraged, rebuked, corrected, and served.  We are saying, “I am here to stay. I want to help you grow and move forward in your spiritual walk. Will you help me do the same?”

But it’s difficult to do these things in large, corporate settings.  Although joining Nashville First is important, living in a community with other believers and growing in Christlikeness is something totally different. It’s difficult to establish deep friendships, minister to others, and prompt one another to love and good works (Hebrews 10:24-25) in a worship service alone. Discipleship—growing in Christlikeness so that you think and act like Christ—happens best in the context of relationships and relationships happen best in the context of smaller groups.

That’s why our Connect Groups are so important.

Connect Groups are the means (or strategy) to the end of biblical community and building strong relationships at Nashville First.  Here are just a few benefits of being actively involved in one of our Connect Groups. 

Fellowship and Bible Study.  Being able to come together each week with others who have similar interests is important to building Christian Community.  The best way we can grow in our relationship with Jesus isn’t by doing it alone, but by coming together with other believers to study, probe, ask questions, and seek the application of Scripture to move us forward in our spiritual walk and address issue we face on a day-by-day basis.

Ministry and Meeting Needs. We all need encouragement. We all have needs that come up now and again where we need help.  Connect Groups are where you can share life with others, encourage one another, pray for one another, care for one another, and help when going through challenging times. In addition, it is through our Connect Groups that everyone is able to express and live out their giftedness in and through the class.

Each Connect Group is Nashville First Baptist Church in microcosm. It is through our Connect Groups that we are best able to live out the Great Commission and the mission statement of our church.

Joining Nashville First and having your name on a Connect Group roll is not the point. Making a commitment to other believers, walking beside them shoulder-to-shoulder, doing life together, getting into the Word of God and allowing the Word of God to get into you, encouraging one another, and enjoying good, lasting friendships is what best describes Christian Community.  Nashville First Baptist Church is your home for family, friends, and faith. It’s your place to belong.