In which we make introductions and tell a bit of our story. In the end we settle on the truth that leading missional communities is actually pretty simple… but simplicity is hard.
There is no other form for the Christian life except a common one. Until and unless Christ is experienced as a living relationship between people, the Gospel remains largely an abstraction. Until Christ is passed on personally through faithfulness and forgiveness, through concrete bonds of union, I doubt whether he is passed on by words, sermons, institutions, or ideas. — Fr. Richard Rohr
We all know this to be true, don’t we? We feel it deep in our bones, in our souls even. It is the contrast formed by Christian community united in love for each other and committed to making the Kingdom of God tangible in the world around them that will truly introduce a skeptical world to Jesus. Missional Communities are the best vehicle that I have found to form this kind of common Christian life united around God’s mission in the world.
We often say that a missional community is just a vehicle that helps us learn to live a lifestyle of family on mission. If that’s true then we should expect that a missional community will need a bit more structure and definition than you would want to place on the lifestyle which is the destination. So while there are any number of ways to live as a family of disciples united with God on mission in your life, we want to define the vehicle of missional community so that it’s both recognizable to newcomers and easy to replicate in a variety of contexts.
I like healthy food and getting as many veggies into my loved ones as possible. I also like comfort food and easy dinner preparation. Spaghetti soup is one of those recipes that fits both categories nicely. It is familiar and comforting but packed with veggies and made with items already found in your pantry and fridge!
Every month our missional community sets aside one night to celebrate the birthdays of anyone born in that month. We alter our normal rhythm slightly to extend the meal time and include birthday cake and other special desserts. The highlight of the celebration is our predictable pattern of speaking blessings over those whom we’re celebrating with that month.
For is there any practice less selfish, any labor less alienated, any time less wasted, than preparing something delicious and nourishing for people you love?” Michael Pollan in “Cooked”
Food and family. They belong together. Love is what motivates me to cook a meal for my family most everyday. I love how my kids and husband can taste my love for them when I cook all their favorite foods. When there are lots of roasted veggies on the table, our 11-year-old Maya feels loved. When there is a meal based around rice and beans, our 13-year-old Haeli, feels loved. And when I make soup of any kind (especially one that requires extra sriracha) Andy feels loved!
If you are going to have people in your home every week to eat a meal and share life with you, there are some tips we’ve learned along the way that make this a joy and not a burden! Lots of factors conspire against you to make it too hard and have you wishing you could back out, but with some intentional changes to your normal hosting habits, it is possible to look forward to it!
Missional Communities have been an effective vehicle for mission for our church and many churches like ours who desire to grow in friendships, grow in their relationship with God but also grow in living on mission. In other words, they combine the “up, in and out” relationships of our lives together in one extended family on mission.
As I think on the idea of spiritual parenting within a missional community in the season we are in, what makes me thankful is the way our thirteen year old daughter Haeli continues to find her identity, purpose and kingdom responsibility within this fairly new missional community. She is beginning to step into leadership in small but significant ways. As we try to live and love in the ways of Jesus, this gives me confidence that we continue to head down the right path with our family!
A missional community is an extended family size group of people living life together for the good of a specific neighborhood or network of people. They are shaped by regular rhythms of connecting with God (up), with each other (in), and with the people God has called them to love (out). It sounds simple enough but as I talk to church leaders around North America, one thing is growing painfully clear: it’s a lot harder than it sounds and the failure rate is higher than many of us would like to admit.
There are lots of reasons why a missional community might fail. However there is one mistake that is beginning to stand out above all the others. It’s predictable, I see it over and over again and it has a tendency to dramatically limit your success with missional communities right from the very start.
Here is my thesis:
Your missional community is more likely to fail by asking too little than by asking too much from the people you start with.