Leading to the Launch of our first two Missional Communities
A passion of mine has always been how to reach the unreached, how to give a credible Gospel witness, how to share the Gospel in such a way that the current generation hears and understands it. I’ve studied church planting for years and have studied Missional Communities for the last couple years. Yet I’ve found that often times it’s difficult to put what you learn into practice. I wish I could give 6 months of my life to join a church that did MCs well and then come back and do what I’ve experienced. However, we often don’t have the luxury of that. We simply have to try what we’ve read about and adapt as we need to along the way.
Over the last four months we’ve been involved in the business of planting a church. In late September, our sending church approved of our mission plan and funding. In October we gathered a core team. We began this blog so that we could share many of the things that we’ve studies and discussed.
Where We’ve Been
Here’s what our Core Team has been doing as we’ve gathered weekly:
- In those meetings we discuss a chapter of the Gospel-Centred Life over a meal. This volume, written by Missional Community pioneer, Tim Chester, does a great job of sharing how the Gospel addresses everyday life and how we’re called to live in Gospel Communities on Mission. Most of our MCs will use this material at some point.
- After each meal, we’ve gone through The Story Formed Way, a ten week session of interactive dialogue and story telling through the key narratives of scripture. The idea behind it is to give the participants a biblical and systematic theology yet be equally accessible to the novice and the mature Christian.
- Almost every week, I’ll also put up a blog post entitled Missional Training. I ask that our core team review that video or post and we often discuss those posts in our meals as well. I recognize that not all people have time to watch the videos, but it gives the self-learners some direction and also posts that our future leaders can point their MCs to for training.
Where to begin with starting MCs?
We are near the conclusion of our training and are ready to plant our first two Missional Communities. For the mean time, we’ve called these MC East and MC West. As each MC gathers and discusses where meeting place and their mission, they will probably take on a more specific name for a neighborhood, development, or street they meet on. We’ve divided the members of our Core Team into these groups based off of their proximity to one another and their affinity. We have diverse ages in each group. Yet we chose to keep our three guys in their early 20s together and our three families with young children together at this time.
My wife and I will attend the group with young families since we have a 9 mo old daughter. Since I’m the pastor, I plan to be at both MCs initially for the first 4-6 weeks to guide, mentor, coach the leaders and be present to answer (if I can) any questions that come up. (I wont need to do this at the beginning of each MC, but my initial leaders felt like they needed me present since we’re really learning what it means to be a Gospel Community on Mission. After that initial period, My wife and I will probably take a few people back to our neighborhood, or somewhere else, to help start another MC.
So, As we seek to launch these MCs, there’s a few things that will need to be done.
- The leaders of each MC will pick a date for starting The Story Formed Way. They will consult their MC members and pick a date about 4-5 weeks out.
- In the mean time, the leaders will work with their team to make sure that there are social and/or service events planned for the weeks leading up to The Story. They will invite their prospects to those events to introduce them to other members of their MC.
- As well as big social events, they will make personal plans with those prospects as well. We’ve been talking about this from the beginning. Most members of our core have been trying to engage their unchurched friends and neighbors. We’ve encouraged our members to invite them into their live before inviting them into their MC.
- At some point in those 4-5 weeks, their to invite their prospects to come to The Story. They’ll explain that it will include many of the people you’ve been hanging out with. It’s low key, in a home, with no expectations of biblical knowledge. Trust the spirit on when to invite them and how to invite them. If they say, “No,” keep inviting them to social and service events. You might have to build your relationship a little further before they trust you enough to open up.
- Who should you invite? We’ve been talking about those people in our lives who need Jesus. Each member should have been trying to build relationships with someone that is unchurched or dechurched. Are they family, friends, acquaintances, coworkers? Who can you engage? Who have you engaged? Who has asked you about the Church Plant? Who has shown interest in joining us? Are there members of St. Paul who have left the church in the last year or so for various reasons, but might be engaged in a Gospel Centered Community on Mission?
In the mean time, my core group will continue to meet weekly. After listening again to Jeff Vanderstelt’s Gospel Fluency, I realized that I had made a near fatal mistake in our core group training. I hadn’t been asking my core to rehearse the Gospel. I simply asked them a couple weeks back, “What is the Gospel?” I received blank looks, the names of the Gospel books in the Bible, and “Jesus on the Cross.” Now my team knew the Gospel. Yet they weren’t prepared to share it.
So in the following weeks, we will be asking “What is the Gospel?” and will look for an answer that speaks of the whole story of God: Creation –> Fall –> Redemption –> Restoration. We will also bring up hypothetical situations and role play by asking, “How does the Gospel Address this. We have been studying the 4 Gs since the beginning, but last week I made up cards with the 4 Gs and how to use them. We’ll encourage each member to actually memorize them and use them in explaining how the Gospel addresses sins and anxieties in life.
A second big mistake that we made was that we’ve talked a lot about reaching out to our unchurced family, friends, neighbors and acquantainces, yet we were not intentional about keeping each other accountable. Because of this, it was easy to think about making plans to grow in our relationships with these prospects, but not actually get around to doing it all that much. In the future, we will share with one another who are prospects are, ask one another how we’ve engaged them in the previous week, and we can also pray for those people our fellow MC members are working to win over.
Again, we are learning how to church plant and launch Missional Communities as we go along. I hope what I’ve shared here might help some future church planter or MC leader. If you have any questions or suggestions, feel free to leave a comment.
Posted on February 23, 2012, in church planting, missional communities, Missional Living, Missional Training, Uncategorized and tagged 4 Gs, Jeff Vanderstelt, Missional Communities, Sharing the Gospel, Starting a Church with Missional Communties, Starting Missional Communities, Tim Chester. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.