Belong before believe?

Jesus includes all humanity, including non-believers in his love and life. Is it not then appropriate for the church to embrace non-believers and include them in the life and ministry of the church?  In short, is it OK for people to belong before they believe? 

In answer, we need only look to what Jesus did. In calling and forming his first group of followers, Jesus reached out to several young men who did not yet believe in Jesus - though Jesus believed in them, and included them in his group (and thus in his ministry) before they came to believe in him as their Messiah, the Son of God.

In a progressively post-Christian world, this insight has particular relevance - people will often need to experience the loving, inclusive community of Jesus' followers before they come to believe that Jesus is their Savior and Lord. For more on this topic, click here to download a paper on the Mosaic Alliance Project written by Eric Bryant (pictured left). You can read more from Eric on his blog at