Martin W. Bender
The final perspective in understanding congregational life is practice. This is what the person does. It represents the existential category of Frame’s tri-perspectival epistemology and is likely what most people think about when discussing church membership.
“I go to the church on top of the hill.” That’s what many of us say when asked about church. We typically describe the location we meet to give the other person a sense of where we gather. It allows them to use their previous experiences with that congregation to form a little background for our faith and practice. It connects us with a particular group of people and ideas creating a sense of identity deeper than that which is established through conversation.
Practicing Christianity among a specific group of believers has been done since the church was established. The early Christians met together, learned together, prayed together, ate together… you get the idea. Christianity is practiced within community. This idea sounds like the situational perspective but has more to do with how one expresses their individual faith. I participate in the Christian life as an individual within a group.
Practice is an important part of congregational connectedness. Participation in the actions of a congregation places the individual at the heart of that congregation’s beliefs and community. One can self-identify with a group, but if they fail to engage that community their self-identification is irrational.
As I continue to consider what it means to be a member of a congregation I will be looking at the interaction between belief, belonging, and practice in order to further the development of all these areas both personally and within my congregation.