Evolution of a Missional Community Vision

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It’s easy to think about a missional community vision as set in stone, like you went up to Mt. Sinai and came down with tablets. You established the vision, so this is what you HAVE to do. Or is it?

What happens when people leave the community? What happens when God begins to do something different entirely? What if you thought you were supposed to serve in one way, but suddenly find yourself serving in a different way? What about when you get into your missional community and discover the needs of the community are more important than the cause?

Then what?

Are you allowed to change your missional community vision?

Not only are you allowed, but your missional community vision should change if you are truly seeking to follow God.

Many Plans, but One Way Forward

Proverbs wisely tells us that “Many are the plans in a man’s heart, but the Lord directs His steps.”

It’s so true. How many times have we planned on doing something that we thought was incredibly, but God had better plans altogether?

Tweet this: How many times have we planned on doing something that we thought was incredible but God had better plans altogether?

This happens all the time with vision and especially with Missional Communities. The Community Group that I am a part of has gathered at 4 different apartments and had 7 different leaders over 2 years. It’s gone from a small number to bursting at the seams, to multiplying, to starting over to growing in unexpected ways.

Throughout this time, our vision has evolved to both meet the needs of our community and respond to the way God is moving around us.

Evolving to Meet Needs

Every community goes through a life cycle of its own. During the forming phase they identify their mission with great excitement and hope. As they walk in their vision they begin to have a lot of fun together and begin to open up about their lives.

It’s at this moment when the needs of the community begin to be revealed.

In some instances, differences of opinions on the scriptures come to the surface, confusion about God’s character and purposes can rise up. In others, people reveal thoughts, hurts, pain, or needs that they’ve never shared with anyone before.

In these moments, the community group has the opportunity to evolve their vision and mission to meet the needs of those in their community. Some might argue these are a distraction to the mission and vision, but if the community isn’t cared for well, what are you inviting people into in the first place?

As these moments arise, take time to acknowledge them collectively and acknowledge them as a gift from God to form the community around His purposes and not our preferences.

Take the time to identify and articulate ways that these needs can or will be met.

Evolve the vision to clearly articulate the value of the entire community. When the community has their needs met it’s easier for them to join to community to be on the mission of God as He opens up opportunities.

Respond to God’s Movement

This is the other opportunity to evolve the vision for your missional community. Often a community group prays, discusses and identifies ways they can follow Christ in loving their neighbors. As they seek to participate in the mission of God through word and deed, God begins to answer prayer and open doors, but not always as we expect.

During these times, the vision must be adjusted to join God. This is an opportunity for humility, trusting that our plans are finite, small, and incomplete compared to God’s plan.

Spend time in prayer, in conversation, and choose to follow God over your initial ideas.

When God Doesn’t “Move”

But what if God doesn’t move? What if the vision you dreamed of doesn’t happen and you’re left wondering if it ever will?

In a way, this is God answering our prayers though it is not as we would have liked it. It is also an opportunity for the vision to evolve and it may even be the beginning of the end of the community.

This is not a failure for the community, it’s God choosing to refine the individuals and community in another way. The evolution may take the form of ending the community or merging with another community that is similar or close by.

It’s hard to take a snap shot and assume we understand all that God is doing. God invites us to trust that His character does not change though our plans must evolve if we would choose to follow Him.

The aim is to walk in the way of Christ in a missional community and we must join Christ in saying, not my will, but your will be done.

Tweet this: Missional communities walk the way of Christ & join Christ in saying ‘Not my will, but Your will be done.’