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!
A Missional Community is a Family of Missionary Servants who make Disciples who make Disciples.
Family â€“ First of all a missional community is a group of believers who live and experience life together like a family. They see God as their Father because of their faith in the person and work of Jesus Christ and the new regeneration brought about by the Holy Spirit.
This means they have and know of a divine love that leads them to love one another as brothers and sisters. They treat one another as children of God deeply loved by the Father in everything â€“ sharing their money, time, resources, needs, hurts, successes, etcâ€¦ They know each other well. This knowledge includes knowing each otherâ€™s stories and having familiarity with one anotherâ€™s strength and struggles in regards to belief in the gospel and its application to all of life.
They speak the gospel truth to one another, regularly building each other up in love. They also love the people around them as if they were part of the family, showing them what the love of the Father looks like and in so doing inviting them to experience life in the family of God.
(John 1:11-13; Rom. 12:10-16; Eph 5:1-2)
Missionaries â€“ Godâ€™s family is also sent like the Son by the Spirit to proclaim the good news of the kingdom â€“ the gospel â€“ and fulfill the commission of Jesus. A missional community is more than a bible study or a small group that cares for other believers.
A missional community is made up of Spirit-led and filled people who radically reorient their lives together for the mission of making disciples of a particular people and place where there is a gospel gap (no consistent gospel witness). This means peopleâ€™s schedule, resources and decisions are now collectively built around reaching people together.
(Matt. 3:16-4:1; Jn. 20:21; Acts 1:8; Acts 13:2)
Servants â€“ Jesus is Lord and we are his Servants. A missional community serves those around them as though there are serving Jesus. In doing so, they give a foretaste of what life will be like under the rule and reign of Jesus Christ.
Living as servants to the King who serve others as he served, presents a tangible witness to Jesusâ€™ kingdom and the power of the gospel to change lives. A missional community serves in such a way that it demands a Gospel explanation â€“ lives that cannot be explained in any other way than by the Gospel of the Kingdom of Jesus.
(Matt. 20:25-28; Jn. 13:1-17; Phil. 2:5-11; 1 Pet. 2:16)
Disciples â€“ We are all learners of Jesus our rabbi who has given us his Spirit to teach us all that is true about Jesus and enable us to live it out his commands. Jesus commanded us to make disciples who believe the gospel, are established in a new identity and are able to obey all of his commands (Matt. 28:19-20). The missional community is the best context in which this can happen.
Disciples are made and developed: 1) through life on life, where there is visibility and accessibility 2) in community, where they can practice the one anothers, and 3) on mission where they learn how to proclaim the gospel and make disciples.
What do you think about Jeffâ€™s definition of missional community? What other questions does this leave you with? Join the conversation in the comment section belowâ€¦
Jeff Vanderstelt is a Church Planter who leads Soma Communities, a body of church planting churches in the South Puget Sound. He also serves as the Vice President (West) of Acts 29 as well as the Church Planters Advisory Counsel for the Conservative Baptist NW Association. Jeff spends most of his time equipping church planters and church leaders in Gospel Centered Leadership and Missionally focused methodology. He has been planting churches for 7 years. Prior to that he was a youth pastor in four different churches over the span of 14 years, the most recent being Willow Creek Community Church in Chicago. Jeff has been married for 18 years to Jayne and together they love and shepherd 3 beautiful children in the Gospel and Mission of Jesus Christ. Twitter: @JeffVanderstelt.