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Missional Communities

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Jonathan Lassiter

on 6 December 2011

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Transcript of Missional Communities

is where we share private experiences, thoughts, and feelings. Launching Missional Communities Definitions Overview of Missional Communities What Does It Mean to be Missional? Am I ready? What is our Mission? Becoming Missional The "Oikos" Community Before we start, let's get on the same page. A group of anything from twenty to more than fifty people who are united, through Christian community, around a common service and witness to a particular neighborhood or network of relationships. With a strong value on life together, the group has the expressed intention of seeing those the group impacts choose to start following Jesus, through this more flexible and locally incarnated expression of the church.

The result often is that the group grows and ultimately multiplies into further Missional Communities. They are most often networked within a larger church community (often with many other Missional Communities). These mid-sized communities, led by laity, are “lightweight and low maintenance”, and most often gather formally and informally numerous times a month in the groups’ missional context. Missional Community: Mike Breen and Alex Absalom Huddle: A group of four to twelve current or future missional leaders who gather to be discipled, encouraged, and held accountable. A Huddle differs from a small group in that the leader acts as the primary discipler of the members of the group and not as a facilitator. Huddles generally meet at least every other week, though some churches have Huddles that meet every week. Each Huddle meeting eventually leads to the two fundamental questions of Christian spirituality we see at the conclusion of the Sermon on the Mount:

1) What is God saying to me? (Build your house on the rock – Jesus’ words)
2) How will I respond? (The fool is the one who doesn’t put word into practice) Common Service and Witness A particular neighborhood or relationship network to twenty to fifty people united around Jesus having a Highly Valuing Life Together Following Jesus and UP - IN - OUT As we read the Gospels, Jesus had three great loves and thus three distinct dimensions to his life: UP, IN, and OUT His deep and connected relationship to his Father and attentiveness to the leading of the Holy Spirit. His constant investment in the relationships with those around him (his disciples) Jesus entering the brokenness of the world, looking for a response individually (people coming into relationship with Jesus) and systematically (systems of injustice being transformed) This three dimensional pattern for living a balanced life is evident throughout Scripture and needs to be expressed in community life as well. Because of this, we believe all Missional Communities need a balanced expression of UP-IN-OUT in order to be healthy, growing communities. UPWARD OUTWARD INWARD Egocentric
Consumer Social Activism Discipling Culture Dying Community Secteric Closed Unhealthy Spiritualism Event Christianity OUT IN UP Characteristics of Partially Healthy Communities: Offers deep community ties and relationships, has the feeling of family.
Not very focused on the central vision of the gospel
Relationship with God is set on back burner.
Has a club-like mentality, brings people in, but has no desire to send out.
Examples: Many Baby-boomer churches, Older brick and mortar churches
Reasons they die: Lacking relationship with Jesus, therefore they have no vision or drive to continue, much less send out disciples who can make disciples. As the name states, this type of church has True to the name, this type of church is focused solely outwards.
May not be as much a church as it is a type of person.
May be lacking in sound biblical teaching; highly motivated to join in on social justice initiatives.
The thought is "What can I do to engage the problem, and what can I do to solve the problem?"
Common disposition: "What can this church do for me?"
Places little importance on intimacy with God and little importance on creating deep, lasting relationships between individuals. Attractive to non-believers, heavily-event based.
Some would call these "seeker sensitive", because they tend to draw those who would not normally attend a church gathering.
Usually high performance, high energy, and excellent in operations.
Strong approaches to teaching and worship in the events.
Lacks deeper settings where relationships can be formed and solidified.
Lacks an inward focus; may see the value in it, but there are not channels to more intimate environments.
Lacks intensive discipleship; more "pulpit discipleship"
Focuses on correct biblical teaching, and a personal relationship with God.
Examples: Some "megachurches", many larger churches Combines IN and OUT focuses to create a community that is highly engaged with the fight against injustice, but lacks vision from God and dependence on God.
Most of these communities fight for a specific cause, but give the Holy Spirit no place to influence and drive the direction of the battle.
Drive is focused toward changing the situation, not necessarily changing the heart.
The Gospel is a banner through which the community operates, but the gospel is usually neglected in favor of the social justice initiative.
Creates disciples of a cause, not disciples of Jesus. High focus on relationship with God.
Special focus on teaching and creating events that allow participants to encounter God.
Spiritual achievements and spiritual highs are encouraged and rewarded.
Can remove people from the reality of the community around them and the lost outside the walls.
Places special emphasis on spiritual experiences, spiritual ecstasy, and secret revelations of the scriptures.
Mature communities separate themselves from outsiders and focus on seeking greater spiritual experiences.
May eventually evolve into a secteric closed group. People of Peace As you seek to go out and reach the lost with the Good News of Jesus, he gives you a simple strategy for doing just that. He tells you to to look for the person who welcomes you, serves you, and responds to you. This person likes you and, probably, you like him or her. A Person of Person will in time prove to be a gatekeeper to a whole network, or neighborhood, of relationships. Therefore, once you recognize a Person of Peace, you stay and intentionally invest in that relationship to see where God will take it. (This is most clearly laid out in Luke 9 and 10). As we read the Gospels, Jesus had three great loves and thus three distinct dimensions to his life: UP, IN, and OUT His deep and connected relationship to his Father and attentiveness to the leading of the Holy Spirit. His constant investment in the relationships with those around him (his disciples) Jesus entering the brokenness of the world, looking for a response individually (people coming into relationship with Jesus) and systematically (systems of injustice being transformed) UPWARD OUTWARD INWARD Centers on Jesus, helping people become and then grow as his disciples.
Is unashamed about following Christ, in values and vision.
Conducts worship, prayer, and Scripture reading as core practices (since members are disciples of Jesus) Has a defining focus on reaching a particular neighborhood or network of relationships.
Takes place in community and often revolves around shared times of food and fun.
Does not require that members be professing Christians to belong.
Looks outward through a mixture of service and verbal witness. Is a group of between twenty and fifty people (at the most seventy)
Has a common mission focus that is the key glue for the shared sense of togetherness.
Gathers informally throughout the week, not just at formal meetings.
Includes a high value on small groups for support, challenge, and closeness in members’ life together.
Has leaders who receive ongoing help, coaching, and accountability.
Has leaders who do not do everything – they facilitate and release others to serve and lead. He is a sending God, a going God, a God who incarnates himself in a specific time and context, so that every person may come to know and love him. To be a follower of Jesus means that you, too, are called to be a missionary. Going in mission is not an optional extra – an upgrade for the “mature disciple”. Missional is a Christian leader buzzword. Mission is: God’s activity of love toward the world. Going in mission is "We must change our ideas of what it means to develop a disciple, shifting the emphasis from studying Jesus and all things spiritual in an environment protected from the world, to following Jesus into the world to join him in his redemptive mission." - Reggie McNeal fundamental to the journey of discipleship and from day one we should view ourselves as missionaries. To be a Christian is to be a missionary. Witness and Service In Luke 9 and 10, Jesus sends out the disciples with the instructions to do two things: Heal the sick and cast out demons Proclaim the Kingdom One represents service; the other represents witness. Service Witness The difference is this, we change our message from: "Come to us and look like us." to "We're coming to you and showing you Christ where you are." The early church gathered in what the New Testament Greek calls oikos. This word, meaning “house” or “household”, included the householder’s family, slaves, and, through their network of relationships, friends, neighbors, and even business associates.

Interestingly, the word oikos was also used by the Greek-speaking Jews to refer to the tabernacle or temple, the original place of Jewish worship. Thus, when Paul and the early church started using this word to describe their gatherings, they brilliantly mixed the two meanings.

The gathering was relational, and while the gathered group was from a variety of social classes and backgrounds, the pre-existing social networks were the major way in which people came to faith. Under this model, the early church grew exponentially in three centuries. Beginning in AD 40 with around 1,000 believers (around 0.0017% of the population of the Roman empire), by AD 350 the total size of the church had multiplied to roughly 33,882,000 people (or 56.5% of the population).

Keep in mind Christianity was illegal at the time. It was not until AD 313 that Constantine began to stop the Roman persecution of Christians, and subsequently allowed the construction of church buildings. 1,000 Christians Christian 56.5% Non-Christian 43.5% The Roman Empire circa AD 350 Christian Population of the Roman Empire circa AD 40 33,882,000 Christians "For at least the first 300 years of Christianity, community was based in the home, in the context of the oikos, and not structured around dedicated buildings and public services." The Nature of the "Oikos" and "Ekklesia" Community In Romans 16, Paul addresses different oikos groups and sends numerous greetings to churches that gathered in distinct oikos groups. He repeatedly uses the term "ekklesia" (most commonly translated as "church", but literally meaning "gathering") to describe these various communities of faith, all of which were addressed by his letter.

Different Oikos Communities Mentioned in Romans 16:
Priscilla and Aquila
Household of Aristobulus
Household of Narcissus
Asyncritus, Phlegon, Hermes, Patrobas, Hermas, and the brothers with them. (This references a distinct community)
Philologus, Julia, Nereus, and his sister, and Olympas and all the saints with them. (Another reference to an oikos community) To put it another way, it seems that, from a biblical perspective, oikos evangelism is God's natural method for sharing his supernatural message. Priscilla and Aquila Household of Aristobulus Household of Narcissus Asyncritus, Phlegon, Hermes, Patrobas, Hermas, and the brothers with them. Philologus, Julia, Nereus, and his sister, and Olympas and all the saints with them. The "Ekklesia" at Rome The Ekklesia at Jerusalem The Ekklesia at Ephesus The Ekklesia at Phillipi The Ekklesia at Berea The Ekklesia at Thessalonika The Ekklesia in Jesus Christ In the New Testament, we see a continual train of totally ill-prepared followers of Christ being sent out in mission. In the Gospels: Jesus starts sending the disciples out as early as Matthew 10, at a stage when they hadn't even declared Jesus as Messiah, let alone Lord, and their response to his teaching was primarily marked by misunderstanding and shallow selfishness. In Acts: Paul frequently wins a few people to Christ, starts a church, and then skips town. He leaves these baby disciples to fend for themselves, with only an occasional follow-up visit months, even years later. It feels like reckless abandon - and yet it is there in black and white. In each of the four gospels, Jesus makes it clear that his disciples are to go to the lost and that we are to make that the center of how we Therefore go and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age. - Matthew 28:19-20 He said to them, "Go into all the world and preach the good news to all creation. Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned." - Mark 16:15-16 Matthew Mark Luke John He told them, "This is what is written: The Christ will suffer and rise from the dead on the third day, and repentance and forgiveness of sins will be preached in his name to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem. You are witnesses of these things." - Luke 24: 46-47 When the Counselor comes, whom I will send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth who goes out from the Father, he will testify about me. And you also must testify, for you have been with me from the beginning. - John 15:26-27 In the Gospels: But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth. - Acts 1:8 While they were worshiping the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said, "Set apart for me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them." So after they had fasted and prayed, they placed their hands on them and sent them off. - Acts 13:2 think, love, and live. How should we think, love, and live? Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already been made perfect, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me.

Brothers, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.
- Philippians 3:12 We think missional communities are a great context to walk out Jesus' command to go on mission. The Four Spaces in Community/Church Life [Space] Old Testament New Testament PUBLIC SOCIAL PERSONAL INTIMATE Temple festivals Synagogue Family devotional life Husband and Wife, e.g. Song of Songs Jesus proclaiming the Kingdom to the multitudes. Jesus and the 72, Parties and Weddings, etc. Jesus and the 12 Jesus with Peter, James, and John Type of Space PUBLIC SOCIAL PERSONAL INTIMATE Church Parallel Celebration (i.e., large "Sunday" services) Over 100 people Missional Community (Ideally 20 to 50+ people) Small Group (Approx. 3 to 12 people) Accountability Partner(s) 1 or 2 people When someone comes into our church community, at whatever gathering size, that person is hoping for some level of relational connection. For this to be fully expressed, we need to enable people to come to the place where they experience this in all four spaces (or the top three at least, since those are the ones that we can organize). Planning your community events to cater to these spaces is not usually an overnight occurence, but nevertheless, this should be our goal, as this will provide the various contexts required for all individuals to gain and give the most. Evangelism: How do we do it? As Christians, we tend to think that evangelism is really hard and that our job is to focus on the meanest cats in the neighborhood! At the same time, we feel more than ill-equipped to do such a thing, recognizing that the methods that sometimes used to work a generation ago seem even less applicable today.

Or scary.

Or, for some, simply frustrating. Yet, interestingly enough, how we've seen evangelism done is not how Jesus did evanglism. Jesus shared the Good News in a very relaxed manner. He didn't hassle or harangue or chase after people, so neither did he expect his disciples to do the same thing. In Luke 10 (also in Luke 9, Matthew 10, and Mark 6), Jesus teaches his disciples to search out the Person of Peace. Who is a Person of Peace ? Someone who:
Welcomes you.
Receives you.
Listens to you.
Serves you.
Responds to you. A person of peace with you. connects So if this "person of peace" sees something they genuinely like in me, something they think is curiously good, well, that simply must be Jesus. Which means the individual is actually demonstrating spiritual openness. Public Space is where we share a common experience and connect through an outside influence. Social Space Personal Space Intimate Space is where we share an authentic "snapshot" of who we are, which shows what it would be like to have a personal relationship with us. is where we share "naked" information about who we are and are not ashamed. How do I think about Spaces logically? Distinctive Values of Each Space In developing missional communities, we have a natural tendency to define the gatherings by structures and the specific details of what we do. Instead of defining gathering by structure, a better path is to define them by the undergirding values. Gathering Distinctive Values/Outcomes Celebration Missional Community Small Group Inspiration
Preaching Community
Training Support
Closeness Attractional vs. Missional In church history, we see two dominant church models of the day: Roman and Celtic. Roman Model Celtic Model "if you build it, they will come." Functioned under the premise of building a new mission base in the church and then inviting people into it. "the wanderers" The Church Base Some of these missions grew very large, and in many senses, developed into the mega-churches of the day. Positives:
In the Jewish and Christian traditions, there has been a strong place for the event-driven Pilgrimage. A Jew in Jesus' day went to the Temple only twice a year, with the local synagogue. Negatives:
These cathedrals had all of the problems that people attribute (often unfairly) to mega-churches: nominalism, comsumerism, and accusations of growing disciples a mile wide and an inch deep. The celts had something very organic happening. It was mobile. It was agile. It was missional. The Celtic Christians were known as "wanderers for Christ." They left the island and simply wandered arond Europe and evangelized the fiercest people you can imagine: Germans, Vikings, and wild northern tribes of England. Positives:
All sorts of people were being reached who otherwise would not have seen how following Christ could make sense in their context. Negatives:
A lack of accountability, being judgmental toward the wider church, a tendency to compromise the Gospel for the sake of connecting with the society. The story of the Romans and the Celts coming together in the Synod of Whiby (AD 664) proved to be a killer combination for the evangelization of Europe. Both the Celts and Romans recognized, "My weakness is your strength. What if we could figure out a way to work together?" Which leads us to the BIG question: What if the purpose of attractional celebrations isn't to make disciples in the same way that Missional Communities can?

What if attractional celebrations serve a profound purpose, but it isn't the everyday, ins-and-outs, life-on-life of making a disciple?

What if we shouldn't expect attractional celebrations to do this? The Church Base On Mission To the Celebration Our conclusion: The merging of both models worked when each understood its unique purpose. The small village missions that people attended locally were:
pioneering the missional frontiers
discipling people
reaching into un-evangelized villages.
The cathedral:
connected everyone together.
was a space for gathering everyone for teaching and encouragement.
was a missional, sending center.

This combination of a missional, sending center and the smaller, missional outposts won the day! Now that we've seen our call to missional living, how do we practically do this?
How did Jesus reach outsiders and how did he teach us to reach them? Furthermore, what is the New Testament model of doing missional community? Now we've established how Jesus and his disciples invited people into their lives. But what should be our understanding of how to live in community? 3 Questions: Let's have a look at the distinctions made in the New Testament about living in community. Both in the past and present, the depth of relational connections made in communities are highly dependent on the way the community functions.

We're going to look at the way communities function, and how building differing "spaces" into your community provides opportunities for relational connection. Almost all material whether directly quoted or not is from "Launching Missional Communities"by Mike Breen and Alex Absalom. No copy of this may be made without the express authorization of 3DMinistries. An Introduction to Missional Communities Every missional community's bed rock is discipleship. Our next prezi will dive into how we disciple, and how we can begin to take a serious look at implementing true apostolic discipleship.
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