Over the coming weeks, we will be asking some of the leading thinkers and practitioners to answer 7 of the most frequently asked questions about missional communities. All of the folks we’ll be hearing from are featured speakers at Exponential 2011: On The Verge. For more information about Exponential 2011, visit www.exponentialconference.org. Also, make sure to use and follow the Twitter hashtag #7questions to keep up with the conversation!
Felicity Dale trained at Barts Hospital in London where along with her husband, Tony, she helped pioneer simple church concepts while in medical school and later in the East End of London. Now living in the United States, Felicity and Tony are actively engaged in training church planters. Felicity is a co-founder of House2House magazine, author of the Getting Started manual on planting house churches, and has co-authored several books with Tony, including The Rabbit and the Elephant, and Simply Church. Twitter: @felicitydale.
Question #1: What is a missional community?
All over the world God is using intentionally small and rapidly multiplying families of his people to bring extraordinary numbers of people into the Kingdom.
Here in the United States, unless the Lord intervenes, we are only a generation away from being a post-Christian nation. (Research shows that only 4% of Gen Y, the oldest of whom turned 30 in 2010, is in church regularly.) For the first time since this nation was founded, church is no longer at the center of society; it is rapidly becoming irrelevant.
For centuries, we have had an attractional model of church. (â€œCome to our church meeting. Come and hear our special speaker.â€) And thankfully, over the years, many have met Jesus this way. But God has always intended church to goâ€”to be missional. He asks us to join him in what he is doing outside the walls of our buildingsâ€”whether that is our church buildings, or, for those of us involved in simple/organic/house churches, our homes.
Missional communities are patterned on the principle of going, so they meet where life happens. They are families of Godâ€™s people, centered on Jesus, sharing life together, and intentionally reaching out with the Good News of the Kingdom.
Within a missional community, Jesus as head of his church is a practical reality. Their core skill is listening to Jesus, and responding to what he tells them. They share life togetherâ€”for them, church is neither a location nor an event, but a series of relationships, firstly with Jesus and then with each other. The groups are small enough to obey the â€œone anotherâ€™sâ€ of the New Testamentâ€”to love one another, bear one anotherâ€™s burdens, teach and admonish one another etc. Understanding and obeying Godâ€™s Word is their daily practice.
A missional community intentionally reaches out into the harvest in order to make disciples of not-yet-believers. Making disciples is key; Jesus will build his church. The group as a whole may focus on one particular harvest field, or it may equip and encourage each of its members to involve with their own circles of influence. Living a 24/7 Kingdom lifestyle will have an impact on â€œthe kingdoms of this worldâ€â€”business, media, the arts etc.
A missional community does not seek to get ever larger, but rather to multiply itself by releasing its members into the harvest.
Mission is at the very heart of the Godhead. God so loved the world that he gave his only son (John 3:16), and as the Father sent the Son, he now sends us (John 20:21). We, the body of Christ, are ambassadors for the Kingdom of God, joining God in his mission to reach a world that so desperately needs to hear the Good News.
What do you think about Felicityâ€™s definition of missional community? What other questions does this leave you with? Join the conversation in the comment section belowâ€¦