Young girl feeling left out by other girls

The 5 Life Languages ® | The Need To BELONG

Belonging is the human emotional need to be an accepted member of a group. Whether it is family, friends, co-workers, a religion, or something else, some people tend to have an ‘inherent’ desire to belong and be an important part of something greater than themselves. This implies a relationship that is greater than simple acquaintance or familiarity.

A Universal Human Need

Belonging is a strong feeling that exists in every human being. To belong or not to belong is a subjective experience that can be influenced by a number of factors within people and their surrounding environment. A person’s sense of belonging can greatly impact the physical, emotional, psychological, and spiritual emotions within themselves.

The need to belong is such a fundamental human need that people feel severe consequences for not belonging. Were it not so fundamental then lacking a sense of belonging would not have such dire consequences. This desire is so universal that the need to belong is found across all cultures and different types of people.

Many Never Experience A Sense Of Belonging

For all our great advances in technology, modern Americans are more distracted and separated than ever before. Despite constant, always-on connectivity, we’re lonelier than any other human group in history. All is not well with us.

Our society has been described as a “swipe-right culture”—a reference to approving a potential date on a popular dating app. When we like something at first glance, swipe right. The moment something—whether a person, relationship, job, or community—loses its appeal, swipe left. Swipe-right culture promises freedom and autonomy: The moment you’re not satisfied, find something new. Probably by using your phone.

And it’s not just those outside the faith and the church; the search for true belonging exists within our own churches and communities. To whom to do we belong? Is it true we must “belong to ourselves”? And the great question that haunts so many in our day: Who are my people?

Who Are My People?

Belonging isn’t an abstract psychological state, nor is it unimportant for those of us doing “serious” church work.

Belonging is our primary human need. Beyond food and shelter, nothing promotes human flourishing like having a people and place of belonging. Research confirms that income level, marriage and children, and perceived security all pale in comparison to belonging in promoting sustained happiness. We long to belong.

The church is God’s creation to “set the lonely in families” to give us a place to belong. Churches and Christian organizations can promote belonging by reorienting their ministries and strategies around thriving community—by inviting people to belong, not just challenging them to commit.



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