Being a family that is part of a Missional Community is not only possible, but in many ways helps both your internal mission to your kids and your external mission to others. In other words, being a part of a Missional Community is a great way to be on mission to and with your kids.
In a Missional Community, you are on mission TO your kids by involving them in a Christian community where they can see the gospel on display by the way that you love each other in Christ. “By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” – John 13:35 ESV
A Missional Community also gives you the opportunity to be on mission WITH your kids. Your children have the ability to open doors to talk to people that might normally be closed. In addition, the activities you do with your children often put you in close and regular contact with other parents that might not yet have heard and believed the gospel of Jesus Christ.
Some families are reluctant to even try to have a Missional Community because their lives are so busy with their kids. Others, however, are eager to be a part of a small group of people on mission, but don’t know what that would look like. For these families, they don’t have a “want to” problem, they have a “how to” problem.
To support and equip these families, I am starting a short series on what it might look like to include your kids in a Missional Community.
No “One Size Fits All”
I say “what it might look like” because there is no “one size fits all” model for how to do Missional Community in general, much less how to do Missional Community with kids. However, I hope that offering some thoughts on different types of group gatherings will be helpful, and that each family can take some ideas from this series and apply them to their specific community.
At The Austin Stone, we encourage our Missional Communities to pursue three main practices:
*Updated 5/21/2014 – click the links above for specific information on the Family Meal, LTGs, and Third Place meetings, and how families can be successful at each one.
If you’d like to read more about what these practices are, check out this series by Todd Engstrom. Todd is the Executive Pastor of Campuses and Communities at The Austin Stone and has written extensively on these practices and how to apply them in your group. When you get to his resources page, scroll down to the section titled “Practices of Healthy Missional Communities.”
In the coming weeks, I’ll be posting on each of these practices, sharing how I have seen families be successful at being a part of each of these types of meetings.
Hold Your Expectations Loosely
Before I close the introduction to this upcoming series, I want to encourage you to keep an open hand on your expectations of kids and Missional Community. Many times, we get in our heads that a successful church meeting consists of a very calm meeting where everyone sits in a circle, takes turns speaking, shares what they are learning, and prays very solemnly before everyone goes home. If you’re hoping that your kids will fit into a meeting like that, you’re most likely going to be disappointed. I suppose God could perform a miracle and have your children sit quietly for the duration of that type of meeting – He has parted a sea and raised people from the dead, after all. However, I’ve never seen it happen.
But that may be okay. Because real life community doesn’t usually consist of people sitting in a circle and taking turns talking. For me, real life with my friends looks like a conversation that gets interrupted every five minutes by one of our children. Real life looks like taking a break from the party to change a dirty diaper. Real life looks like finding places to meet friends where our kids can play off to the side while we catch up on life. And it is in real life, not in some alternate reality, where we must live our Christian lives – in community, on mission, together.
Click to tweet: Real life community doesn’t usually consist of people sitting in a circle and taking turns talking. @johnmurk
So it’s okay if it gets a little crazy. It’s okay if it doesn’t go as expected. It’s okay because God can and will still use your community for your sanctification, for your discipleship of your children, and for your mission to others.
If you have some specific questions or thoughts on children and Missional Communities, I’d love to hear them! Find us on Twitter at @Verge_Family or email me at [email protected].