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.
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.
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.
Let’s make an assumption. Let’s say you’re here because you want to know how to get started with missional communities or because you’ve started down that path but you’re frustrated and wondering whether you’ve started in the wrong direction.
In this post we want to suggest that when you’re just beginning down the road of missional communities, there might be one road that’s easier than others…
For the last few years, dozens of people have gathered in our home every Monday night for dinner. Most weeks we eat well, like really well, with minimal planning and without a lot of extra time or effort. At this point, it almost feels easy and this gathering carries on in our home even when we’re out-of-town. Of course, it didn’t start this way from the beginning and we want to share some of the lessons we learned (many the hard way) over the last few years.
One of the assumptions that people make when we tell them about our Monday night meals, is that we must live in a big fancy house. The truth is that our house is not small but it is far from fancy and the main things that make our home work well for hosting a missional community are intentional choices that nearly everyone could make (though perhaps not all at the same scale).
In this post I want to focus on just a few choices we made about the actual physical space in our home that makes it easier to host a few dozen people on a regular basis without a lot of extra effort.