God's Belongers

How people engage with God today and how the church can help

David Walker

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This book transforms thinking about church membership by replacing the division between 'members' and 'non-members' with a four-fold model of belonging. Based in extensive practical research, David Walker shows how 'belonging' can encompass a far wider group of people than those who attend weekly services. He examines belonging through relationship, through place and through events, as well as the traditional belonging through activities. He goes on to explore the opportunities for mission that emerge as a result - while also acknowledging the challenges posed for issues such as church financing.


  • Introduction: an aid for mission

Part 1: How we belong

  • 1 Belonging: a theological concept
  • 2 Reliably regular: belonging through church activities
  • 3 People power: belonging through relationships
  • 4 Only the once: belonging through events
  • 5 Location, location: belonging through place
  • 6 The mystery of the missing vicar: an example of belonging

Part 2: Belonging for mission

  • 7 What's the difference? Understanding occasional churchgoers
  • 8 Together in mission: the Five Marks of Mission
  • 9 Paying the piper: what has become of Anglican governance and finance?

Part 3: Who else is missing?

  • 10 Types and temperaments: what is Psychological Type?
  • 11 Models for motivation: exploring the world of Religious Orientation
  • 12 Never on Sunday: the opportunities and challenges of Sunday worship


Whenever the church gets to talking about numbers, sooner or later someone will protest that it is not all about bums on seats, is it? Well, yes and no. As this readable and insightful book from David Walker makes clear, belonging cannot simply be measured by your attendance record. There are multiple ways of belonging to any organisation or community, and especially the church. But if instead of 'bums on seats' the church talked about 'hearts being changed' or 'lives being transformed', and once we realise that there can be no impact in our local communities and wider society unless there are at least some people who not only belong, but whose belonging shapes and directs the whole of their lives, i.e. their hearts are being changed and their lives are being transformed, then we begin to see that understanding how people belong and ministering to people in their different ways of belonging is something worth thinking about. This book will help you.
The Rt Revd Stephen Cottrell


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Author info

After a Maths degree at Cambridge, David Walker trained in theology in Birmingham. He served in churches in the dioceses of Sheffield before becoming Bishop of Dudley in 2000 and then in 2013 Bishop of Manchester. He is involved in writing a continuing series of papers for peer review journals and the International Society of Empirical Research in Theology, using quantitative methods to analyse aspects of rural Anglicanism. He is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts, a member of the Rural Theology Association, the Church of England Ministry Council and one of the Church Commissioners for England. He has contributed chapters to a number of books including Changing Rural Life: A Christian response to key rural issues (Canterbury Press, 2004), Rural Life and Rural Church: theological and empirical perspectives (Equinox, 2012), Exploring Ordinary Theology: everyday Christian believing and the Church (Ashgate, 2013). He has written papers for (amongst other journals) Rural Theology, the Journal of Beliefs & Values and the Journal of Anglican Studies. In 2014 he was awarded a PhD from the University of Warwick for the studies on which this book will be based.


Book details

  • ISBN: 9780857464675
  • Published: 17 February 2017
  • Status:
  • Format: Paperback
  • Pages: 160
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