When I visited The Belonging Co last month, it was not with the express purpose of writing an article about them. I, like many other Christians in a creatively diverse city that hustles and bustles 24/7, struggle to find community and decided to visit by a word-of-mouth suggestion.
So why am I doing it now? Truthfully, I just feel like it.
I have been attending a large church In Nashville since I moved here in April 2021 and I have nothing but wonderful things to say about it, but for me, The Belonging Co. was just…a little different.
I grew up in a Pentecostal church in a small border town in the Appalachian mountains. A quaint building filled with loads of spirit and lots of hymns. Fast forward through a falling away from the faith followed by a return and subsequent three-year stint in seminary and here I am. Suffice to say, I’ve been in many churches in my lifetime.
I arrived at the Belonging Co. ten minutes late (thanks A.D.H.D.) and walked in under the aesthetically pleasing, minimalist sign through a lobby that was filled with the smell of coffee and manned by the bright, smiling faces of greeters that make an introvert like me uncomfortable. Why are they so happy anyways?
Well, I was about to find out.
As I walked in the direction of the sanctuary, the music grew louder and the melodic bumping of the bass softly rattled the floor underneath me and traveled through my tired bones.
This was a feeling that used to elicit excitement in me the in the years after I left my small town, no projector/one-piano church services. In more recent years, I’ve realized that feeling was not the indicator of the spirit that I ignorantly thought it was. It was just an effect. And I had began to despise that effect.
And that I continued to do as I finished my Sunday morning journey through the inner doors. Great, another concert-like, “cool” church. I made my assumptions that evolved into bitter judgments and followed the usher to my aisle seat. #FAVORFAVE…But I digress.
The worship was well underway and being that it was already 11:15, I expected the “mood” to calm and the music to slow down per the typical leading from the countdown clocks I had become accustomed to in modern, Western churches. But here’s the thing, it didn’t.
Worship kept going, and not the whole “introducing five new popular songs and wowing the congregation” kind of going. A deep, mindful and intentional lingering of the posture of the leaders on stage.
Now, this is Music City yous guys, so that woman’s voice really did sound like a mix of Fergie and Jesus. But it wasn’t just pleasing to the ears, you felt it. I felt it.
No, not in the self-absorbed, me-centered kind of “felt” it. It was that soul-deep “knowing” that we were participating in something bigger than ourselves, something that was not for US. That we really were part of a body, one body collectively holding up an offering to One who overwhelmingly deserved it. We were being lead by a team that knows the heart of God intimately. What He was saying, what He was wanting to hear and to speak and to do. We were a part of the body of Christ in a way that I don’t recall experiencing before.
As I stood there placing my pride, I observed that the congregation was not robotically swaying in forced unison, they were moving in their own way to the beat of a heart bigger than their own. They were not standing because that’s what they were suppose to do. They stood with the willing and unreserved admiration of a child at the door waiting for their father to come home from work.
Some hands were up, others were down, all unique, authentic, organic expressions and movements. It wasn’t a “put together” kind of scene. It was a sea of swelling “ragamuffins” educating me on a facet of the definition of the word “worship” that I had not previously been made aware of.
The time didn’t matter, which was the most surprising of all. I think I had become accustomed to the microwave church model. Everything down to the second. And listen, one of my seminary professors humbled us by teaching us not to knock the schedules, saying that Holy Spirit can use any time you give Him, and I agree entirely. All I’m saying is that it was just refreshing to, for one Sunday, be sitting in a large room of people and leaders that were so engulfed in raising a beautiful aroma of worship before God that time just wasn’t a part of the equation.
Of course, none of this was for me, and my opinion of a worship service or my being impressed by it is not the point and does not matter. What does and always has mattered is what the Lord thinks about it and though I don’t know their names, I honestly just wanted to use the small platform I have to say thank you to The Belonging Co. Thank you for schooling me. Thank you for doing the hard work, crying all the tears, praying all the prayers, and planting all the seeds by the sweat of your brow to provide the space for Music City to not just experience worship, but to learn how to connect with their Creator.
I do, however, have one charge against you.
I cannot find that “Dove” song freaking anywhere online. How are you going to allow me to have revelation of Holy Spirit’s role in the full gospel in a way I have never had before and just leave me hanging like that? Honestly, do better.
I’m just kidding…kind of.
If you’re looking for a church home, I can recommend so many in this beautiful city but for right now, I encourage you to check out The Belonging Co.