You may remember that back in February, Portswood Church launched a survey about ‘Belonging’.  We wanted to know whether people who attend services on a Sunday morning feel like they belong to a community; whether people feel welcome, included and accepted.

The survey was open for 4 weeks and 122 people in the church family responded, either on paper or online.

Since that time, members of the Belonging Team have been reading through all of the results, and particularly the comments made by people in relation to what we do well as a church and where we could do even better.

A full report will be shortly be made available for people to read and I would encourage everyone to take a look, as some really interesting things have come out of the responses made by members of our congregation.  However, here are a few headlines:

When asked what we do well as a church in helping one another to belong, house groups came out on top, with our welcoming approach and general friendliness coming second and third.  People also noted that they appreciate the diversity of our members, how there are activities for different ages and needs and the many opportunities for us to serve together.  Practical support in times of need was mentioned a lot, and the prayer directory with photos also got a lot of praise.  (Look out for the new version of the directory coming soon!)

We asked respondents what helps them to feel like they belong, listing a number of things for them to rate in importance.  The ones with the most ‘agree’ or ‘strongly agree’ responses were ‘Recognising people on a Sunday’ and ‘Being recognised by other people’.  This is clearly a very important aspect of helping people feel like they belong and something for us all to bear in mind, particularly when we see new people or those who are on their own.

Respondents were also asked to identify things that might get in the way of a sense of belonging and some highlighted the dangers of closed groups (or ‘cliques’) that sometimes lead to people feeling excluded.  It was interesting though how many people said they knew they could be better at speaking to different people on a Sunday during coffee time.  This is a challenge for us all.  Perhaps we sometimes need to intentionally avoid talking to members of our own house group on a Sunday (seeing as we’ll see them in a few days anyway), or maybe we need to stop using that after church slot for ‘business’ matters and deal with those via email or over the phone during the week, thus freeing us up to talk to different people after the service.  Something to think about, anyway.

In response to some of the issues and ideas raised by the survey, some suggestions have been forwarded to the Elders and Strategic Leadership Team, and these are currently being discussed.  In addition, many of the comments made are informing the ongoing conversations of the Belonging Team as we decide what our priorities are for the coming months.

There is much more to say about the survey, so do look out for the report in the next few weeks.  

And finally, if you would be interested in getting more involved in this exciting area of ministry, please chat to Chris Joyce (Strategic Team Leader of Caring and Belonging) or myself (Heather Barbier -  Belonging Team Leader).

Thanks for reading.