Missional Communities: Definitions and Helpful Information
20-50 people (including non-Christians); defined by specific mission/vision; authentic community; begins with the expectation of multiplication; does a mixture of up, in, and out.
Can be defined sociologically (social network) or geographically (neighborhood/locale)—ranging in specificity from Neighborhood to new mothers. Could be a combination of geography and social connection—moms in your neighborhood.
In order to have a mission/vision, you must
Know who you are trying to reach, and it should make sense (should align with preexisting values in the group.)
Have a written mission/vision which will guide your effort. Should be written in 2 sentences. Do not overcomplicate. Not about strategy—it’s about purpose. Who will you reach with your proactive energy in a continued intentional way, rather than just hit and run evangelism/discipleship.
Aspects of a Missional Community
Creative Worship—do not try to do a mini-Sunday. Being worshipful through gratitude can be helpful. See Resource: Help! We Don’t Have a Guitar Player!
Fresh Bread—Bible accessibility. That is, read and study the Bible that encourages everyone to do so on their own as well; do things/discuss/study in a way together that shows the Bible is accessible to anyone and applicable for everyone. The application of Biblical truth to everyday life, e.g. parenting, will build confidence in the Word.
Eating—Bring food and share. These gatherings (parties, not meetings) are not entirely up to the host to make happen. Everyone should pitch in by preparing/sharing food. Realize that in America, we tend to see Food as Fuel—and so we eat quickly and choose highly caloric foods. Try to take a more European approach and see Food as Friendship. Doesn’t matter if it is just coffee and toast—sharing food means friendship.
“One-another-ing”—See all the instances of this in the New Testament.
Declaring the Words of Jesus—using the Truth to build one another up.
Demonstrating the Works of Jesus—service to one another and to the community. Service works really well for middle class with children (they believe their kids are spoiled and so need to engage in service). These two together will bring the Gospel out into the open to talk about.
Christians and Non-Christians in Missional Communities
In pilot MCs, it may be necessary to have a high majority of believers and only a few non-Christians. This will create early success and build later generations of MCs, where the more intense work will begin.
Can and will be messy. Think of Jesus at the Wedding in Cana. Having friends over may mean that they get drunk. This is just another reality of living life ‘on mission.’ Be Christ to them, care for them. Sometimes you will do the wrong thing, and you will learn from it—but you will, overtime with some successes, be known as someone who loves well and should be expected to throw great (safe, reasonable) parties. Christians should be the most fun, loving people you know—we are so often seen as the ones who ruin the party.
Important: Missional Communities gather to have fun together (party), not to have a meeting.
Combines—One man inside a machine, professional in his field…compare to
Matthew Chp 9—Send out laborers, the harvest is plentiful, the laborers few.
The twelve disciples were sent out, not all of them were highly schooled theologically (some ex-Pharisees…but mostly common folk.)
On the Western Church model (Combine) we are potentially reaching only 40% of the population—60% will never hear the gospel via the current church model. We need to realize that going to church is not the end goal—knowing Jesus is the goal.
Creating environment for people to flourish as sent ones. “A place where people are set free to live life as sent ones.”
People can treat other people individually—the combine does not—and neither does the western model.
We need to ask ourselves these questions:
What is a disciple?
What is disciple-making?
What does disciple-making at my church look like?
What are my measures for disciple-making? (we measure what we value)
Who are you (pastor included) in a disciple-making relationship with?
NOTE: Everyone at your church should be able to give a concise, accurate definition of what a disciple is. There should be a written form of this definition—something accessible to anyone (learnable, transferable)
Discipleship is the engine of Mission; Mission is the vehicle of Discipleship
Quick definition for disciple:
A disciple is someone who asks:
What is Jesus saying?
What am I doing about it?
We often view discipleship as information only—actually it is in three parts, information being the least important. REI:
Information—which makes up what 80% of what the western church does.
NOTE: we would not have trouble listing the 5 most important relationships or experiences to our faith—but we would struggle to list 5 life-changing sermons. Information just doesn’t change people the way relationships and experiences do.
We used to believe that evangelism brought people to the cross and then discipleship carried on as the MO after the person came to Christ. However, it would be more accurate to operate under the reality that evangelism and discipleship begin together before an individual comes to know Jesus. None of us is as perfect as Jesus—we are all on a journey to grow closer to Him—evangelism and discipleship are the journey, from however far, to Christ.
Be aware of these three organizational mentalities
Bounded Set—(Country Club) More of a club than a movement. Tends to be more extractive than attractive—people join by tithing, being baptized, attending, but then never return to their sphere of influence to spread the good news—they have been extracted. This mode also breeds Christian consumerism—I do these things for membership, and in exchange I receive certain religious goods and services from you.
Fuzzy Set—no defined values. The lack of values, while it seeks to be accepting of all, ultimately results in the disintegration of the group.
Centered Set—In this case, centered on Christ. The ‘win’ of this set is when people move toward the cross. Whether they are attending church when they do that is immaterial. The fruit may be that people are baptized and tithe and come to worship—but it is the fruit, not the objective. Bring people closer to Jesus, into relationship is the goal—which will manifest itself differently.
How do we know we are doing the right stuff? How do we know we’re winning?
1. How many people are in disciple-making relationships?
2. How are we (as a church community) impacting the area? Would the community miss us if we were gone?
Person of Peace
Who are you called to love intentionally?
Not yet a Christian, but open to His peace and to you
Receives You (and Jesus in you)
Serves You (making it mutual)
Intentionally Invest in this person (“don’t move from house to house”—this takes time)
They will become a gatekeeper to their group.
“They like you, and you like them.”