Category Archives: Missional Living
In luke 10, Jesus sends out the Seventy Two into the villages of the surrounding countryside to prepare people to meet Jesus. Before they go, Jesus gives them some instructions on what they should do. Remember how he sent them out? What was his first instruction? He sent them out, two-by-two.
It’s odd that Jesus sent out the Seventy Two in pairs to share the gospel, yet we usually see witnessing and evangelism as a solo experience. We see sharing the faith as our duty or burden that is seems so difficult that we never actually do it, or are not very successful at it. Maybe the reason we aren’t great in witnessing to Christ is that we try to go it alone.
Our Missional Communities are not just support groups for individual missionaries trying to accomplish their individual missions, but they are a group of people who are called to be on mission together. In our MCs, our most successful witnesses are ones that don’t go it alone but invite other Christians on the mission. The sending of the Seventy two shows us that this was Christ’s intention. Now we don’t necessarily need to split into groups of two in order to reach people successfully. But we increase our chances as we reach out in groups.
Some of our members continually try to reach their friends and coworkers and eventually invite them to come to participate in the Story. Yet, they end up not getting very far. I often wonder if it is simply too intimidating to come to a get-together when you only know one or two people who will be there. It gets even more intimidating when you add religion to the evening.
What if we introduced everybody we were trying to reach to other members of our MC and church? Some of our members do this. They invite the people their trying to reach, and another Christian couple from their MC, out to dinner a couple times. Others throw parties regularly and invite their MC members and also the people they are trying to reach so everyone gets to know each other over a number of months. Then when it comes time to invite them to the Story, they already know a number of people there and aren’t afraid of not knowing anyone.
Don’t go it alone. Witness with the help of others.
Consider the following questions and challenges:
- Who have you been trying to reach recently?
- Have you introduced them to other member of your MC?
- Who in your MC would connect well with the person/people you want to reach?
- How can you introduce them? What kind of event, party, dinner, hang out, or entertainment would both parties feel comfortable in?
- Make plans to introduce these two groups in the next 2 weeks?
Picture found here
Above is a picture of a Web of Relationships. Scripture says we’ve all been put in our own web of relationships so that we might win people there for Jesus. The Apostle Paul says in Acts 17:26-27,
From one man he made every nation of men, that they should inhabit the whole earth; and he determined the times set for them and the exact places where they should live. God did this so that men would seek him and perhaps reach out for him and find him, though he is not far from each one of us.
Paul says that God has placed every person where they are at, and when they would live, so that they might perhaps find the living God and Savior of us all. Paul also says, in Romans 10: 9-17, the only way (outside of supernatural means) that people find God is through others sharing the word of God with them. So then, with these two passages together, I’ve always thought that God has placed each Christian exactly where they are because they have friends, neighbors, coworkers, family, accuatances, etc. that need to know the love of Christ.
Think thorough the following five areas of your life and think of who you introduce to Jesus:
- Vocation – Every Christian is a full time minister. God just route our paychecks through different routes. God has placed you in your job so that you could serve others well through those means, but also so that you might be a witness to others. Who do you know at work that is unchurched? Do you ever get together with them socially? If not, how can you engage them to grow your relationship?
- Location – All of us live in a place surrounded by people,. Even if we live in the country there are people around us. Do you know you’re neighbors? Do you know who are churched or unchurched? If so, who can you start engaging or growing in relationship with? Who can you invite to hang out with other MC members, join you in serving others, or to hear The Story? If you don’t know your neighbors, get to know them. Bring them over some extra soup, invite them to a party, or serve them in some way.
- Recreation – All of us have hobbies that we enjoy. God’s given us all different skills and interests. God has also given us all unique relational connections to others. How can you use your passions and interests to connect with others? Who are you already in relationship with that you can connect to other members of the MC or invite to an event?
- Relations – Who in your family needs to know Jesus? Can you invite them to social gathering of other MC members? Would they enjoy The Story? Would they join us in service projects?
- Frequentation – being a Patron or being a regular somewhere. “Sometimes you want to know where everybody knows your name.” How do people get to know your name, when you take interest in their names and engage in their lives. Where do you frequent? Where are you a regular? Have you stopped to learn the names and stories of the people you see regularly at the park, bank, theatre, market, restaurant, pub, etc? If not, where can you start?
- Walk this week with eyes open to the people in the background of your life. Do you know them?
- Make a commitment to try to meet 3 new people each week and grow in your relationship with one person you have met or already know who is unchurched.
What do you think? Is this list helpful? Why or why not? What do you think of the terms that are used. They’re all real words, yet some, such as frequentation, doesn’t get used all that much these days. I’m interested in your comments and suggestions.
Thanksgiving is two days away. How are you going to use this day to show the love of God. Below are 9 ways to be missional this Thanksgiving:
- Thanksgiving is a day of abundance. We celebrate God’s provision for all we need for our body and life. We celebrate this with the greatest amount of food and we celebrate with family. Yet not everyone has family they can celebrate with. Is there a neighbor or coworker that doesn’t have anywhere to go this year? Jesus loved the unloved and the unlovable. Practice Christian hospitality and invite them over.
- Make Thanksgiving a time of remembering the love of God. Tell each person at the Table why you thank God that He has placed them in your life.
- Rather than give a quick prayer before the meal, ask people what they are thankful for this year and encorporate what they say into your prayer.
- Focus on the things that matter. Thanksgiving can sometime become a time when you have to sit and talk to that relative with allegiances to different political parties or a different football team. Don’t use this as an opportunity to start a fight. Rather, make every conversation an opportunity to show God’s love.
- Don’t try to be a perfect host. Remember, God is Gracious so you don’t have to prove yourself and God is Glorious so you don’t have to fear what others think. Be yourself, love others, and let God control the way other’s look at you.
- One of the best times to grow relationships is around a dinner table, and we spend a long time around the table on Thanksgiving. Make the most of your time with others. Get to know them better. Ask them about their jobs, their past, their kids, their hopes so you’ll get to know where the Gospel can speak into their lives.
- Get to know the Kids around the table as well. They can often be overlooked or excluded in conversation. Love on them and let them know your house is good place to be at.
- Not everyone likes sports, but if you have some people who want to watch the football game, turn it on. Sit down and enjoy their company and get to know them better.
- In my house, we end up always cooking way too much and have more leftovers than what we’ll want to eat for the rest of the week. Make sure you send some food home with your guests. Do you have any neighbors who don’t cook? Send them over a plate if they didn’t join you for thanksgiving.
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Picture found here
Halloween is a great time to meet new neighbors. If you have kids, you have the permission to go door-to-door and introduce yourself to your neighbors. If you don’t have kids, many neighbors will come to you seeking sugary candy. Yet you can give them something much better, friendship. How can you bless your neighbors this Halloween?
Here are some thoughts on how you can make Halloween serve Gospel purposes of getting to know your neighbors:
- In the week before, Have a Community Pumpkin carving party at your house. You can even have all the kids judge the pumpkins and give out prizes. Have some games, snacks, and beverages available.
- Halloween is important to kids. Make sure to hand out candy. Turn some lights on so kids know you’re home and so parents know you’re welcoming.
- Buy some great candy and don’t be stingy with it. When I was a kid, I knew who gave out the full candy bars and who gave out the grandma candy that tasted like rotten peanut butter.
- Make a big deal about the kids’ costumes. Have fun and make them feel special when they come to your door.
- In many places, including Jackson this year, it’s going to be pretty cold. What can you do to help freezing parents and children warm up? How about free hot Apple Cider or Hot Chocolate? In addition to free drinks, do you have a portable bonfire pit? Set it up in the front yard and invite people to sit down and warm up before they move on to the next street.
- Why just hand out Candy? Give them a little toy from a dollar or party store. Glowsticks or bracelets would be a great hit!
- Learn the names of any of the adults that come by. Ask them where they live and make a little small talk. Try to remember the names of any kids that you see playing in the neighborhood as well. Write down the names and addresses of the people you meet so you can remember them later.
- How are you going to follow-up with the people you meet? How about handing out invitations and having a Halloween after party for the Adults to have some festive adult beverages and snacks? Or, how about inviting people to a party on the following weekend?
- Create a community facebook page and hand out invitations to everyone who comes by.
- Team up with the neighbors you know. Be the really fun groups of houses so that you draw more people down your street.
- Go trick or treating with at least one other family and pick up more in your group as you walk along. It’s a great opportunity to get to know mom’s and dads better as you walk along.
- Decorate a little so kids think your house looks fun and inviting. Don’t go overboard and get too scary or parents might not be happy and the kids might not stick around long enough to talk.
- Invite your Missional Communities to join you in handing out candy, going trick-or-treating, or anything you’re doing on Halloween. You’ll have a greater chance of connecting with other neighbors with a couple more people by your side.
No matter what you do this Halloween, pray that God might open doors to good conversations and friendships and that, through His Spirit, they people might see a hint of God’s Kingdom and His love.
If you have any other ideas, feel free to comment below.
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Picture found here
Sharing the Gospel or inviting someone to a church service, missional community, or a small group can often feel intimidating. Christians all know that we’re called to make disciples of all nations, to be witnesses of the Gospel to the ends of the earth. We know we’re called to be the light of the world, the salt of the earth. We even want to be effective at this mission. We want to see or family, friends, neighbors, and coworkers know the life and love they can have in Jesus. Yet, at times we don’t know where to begin.
We have all seen or heard about a lot of high-pressure evangelist encounters that seemed more like an argument than a sharing of the hope we have in Jesus. Maybe you’ve actually been the one pressuring someone else to come to become a Christian. Or maybe you’ve sat there and heard a friend or coworker vent about someone who was “trying to push their faith” on them. Perhaps, you were just minding your own business and some well-meaning Christians kept pushing tracts in your face, forcing conversation, and if you, a fellow Christian, felt uncomfortable. We know we don’t want to reach out that way, but we are left unsure of how to go about it.
For most of us we have one big problem with evangelism. We fear others. We’re afraid of what people might think of us after we mention the name of Jesus or the word, Church. We are afraid of what might happen when we step on a stranger’s door step. We’re even a bit afraid that they might view us as that angry judgmental person. Perhaps we have all these fears and negative emotions because we view evangelism in the wrong way.
Tim Chester and Steve Timmis suggest that evangelism is actually meant to be a team activity, that we’re meant to share and show the faith together, over time, through relationships. We recognize here that not everyone shares the same gifts. Chester and Timmis suggest that there are a few ways that everyone can be involved in witnessing: Building relationships, Sharing the Gospel, and Introducing to Community
In their book, Total Church, they share this diagram to show how multiple Christians can be involved in witnessing to one person:
As Christians we should always be interested in knowing new people and getting to know the unchurch people around us. Especially in a church plant, it is essential that all of our member are regularly starting new relationships with people on the fringes of their life, and depening relationships with the unchurched people they know. There are people who are extremely gifted at meeting new people and starting relationships with them.
Sharing the Gospel
When we live the Christian life in front of an unbeleiving world, people will take notive of the way we love, sacrafice, and serve and will ask us of our faith. All Christians all called to be ready to answer when someone asks the reason of our hope. When we have opportunity, and the Spirit moves us, we’re called to speak. Yet, for some this come much easier. Some people can turn everyday conversation into a exhortation to beleive in Jesus.
Introducing to Community
Most of us have people in our lives that are unchurched or dechurched. The difficult thing is trying to figure out how to get them to church or to sit down and talk about Jesus in a productive way. Yet, often times all we have to do is to introduce them to the wider community. It’s hard to just start up a religious conversation and it seem natural. Its even difficult to simply get someone to agree to go to church, yet its pretty easy to ask them to a barbeque or a movie. Somepeople are naturals at connecting people. Someone great in this area might host great parties or plan some great events or they might be simply good at inviting a unchurched friend and beleiving friends to the same place. The more relationships built, the better, because the unchurched person sees the Gospel play out in the lives of Christians. There is also, then, a greater chance that the unchurched person might really connect with one of the Christians, which can open the door to greater Gospel converstaions.
When evangelism becomes a community project, it becomes easy and fun. Everyone has a part to play. No matter your gift. God can use you. He’s save you for this very purpose. Trust in his Spirit to lead you.
- Who do you know that is far from Jesus? How can you start to build relationships with them?
- If you’re not gifted at sharing the faith, who do you need to introduce them to?
- What kinds of events or settings can you imagine your unchurch and your church friends mingling at?
- What strand or strands of evangelism are you most comfortable and gifted with? What other types of Christians do you need to partner with to help reach your friends?
Read more about outreach in missional communities here
Images found here
“It’s a dangerous business,” Frodo shares with his fellow Hobbits as they are about to leave the Shire in Tolkien’s The Lord of The Rings. Filled with excitement and trepidation at leaving home for the first time, Frodo shares the wise and whimsical council of his beloved Uncle Bilbo:
He used often to say there was only one Road; that it was like a great river: its springs were at every doorstep, and every path was its tributary. ‘It’s a dangerous business, Frodo, going out of your door,’ he used to say. ‘You step onto the Road, and if you don’t keep your feet, there is no knowing where you might be swept off to.
It’s a dangerous buisness, opening your mouth, as well. The conversation can bring you anywhere. James says, “With the tongue we praise our Lord and Father, and with it we curse men, who have been made in God’s likeness” (James 3:9). Our words will often flow into curses of our neighbors and God. They can set the course of our life on fire. Yet, God didn’t create words and speech for that.
Every word and conversation is really meant to flow through the tributaries of casual conversation to the deep and powerful rushing waters of theology. That great river of the Gospel flows into a river of life, it’s the road to God. Every conversations was meant to point there, every road meant to lead to Him. Why? Because we were meant to “live, move and have our being” in Him (Acts 17:28). We were created to find all our joy, purpose and meaning in our God and Father. In the Fall we ran away from God, yet in the Gospel, God Redeemed us and calls us to to Jesus, the way and road home (John 14:6). He desires for us to be prepared to share the faith, to season and frame all our conversations with God’s Story and Love, and to trust the Spirit to guide in showing the way to others.
Since we have been redeemed, since we’re on our way home, we have something to share, something to talk about. We’ll run into many people on our journey home. We’ll have the opportunity to invite them along, to tell them where we’re going. Just as “it’s a dangerous business” in going out your door in the uncertainty of where the day will take you, there’s always uncertainty, every time a conversation starts. We don’t know what paths words will lead us down, but what we do know is that God desires to use our words and our path to lead people home. God’s called every person we meet to intersect with our path so that somehow, the direction and ultimately the destination of their life might change. God’s Spirit will present opportunities to speak and give us words to say to lead others home.
Picture found here.
As we are near to launching our first two Missional Communities, I wanted to try and record a critical timeline for how Missional communities are launched and reproduced. I recognize that not all MC’s start the same or grow at the same pace. I still thought that putting together a template timeline might be beneficial in launching more MCs.
Below are the steps towards launching and reproducing Missional Communities. Each step occurs within a season of the process. Many of these steps happen simultaneously and are not always necessarily completed before the next step begins.
Step 1- Starting and Growing Relationships
Note: As Christians we should always be engaging our unchurched family, friends, coworkers, and neighbors for the sake of establishing and growing relationships with them. The Season of Sowing Seeds and the Step of Starting and Growing Relationships is one that does not end with the launch of an MC but should be a regular Rhythm of life.
Things to consider are:
- Who are the people you know? What networks of relationships, friends, hobbies and…
- What people group (network/neighborhood) are you feeling called to reach?
- Who are the prospects who’s hearts God had been opening? Who will help us accomplish this work?
- Who are the people that have the potential to open up a wider network of prospects?
- Discern who is the most open to spirituality and church.
Preparation for A New Missional Community
Step 2- Select Leader and 2-3 person leadership core of the Missional Community
Things to consider:
- Who of an existing MC feels called to lead a missional community? Have they been mentored?
- Who does the sending MC feel is able and qualified to lead?
- Who has a passion to reach a certain people group?
Step 3 – Select a Mission
Things to consider:
- The leader (and the core) selects a mission to a specific neighborhood, people group, etc, usually connected to the relationships built up with prospects.
- If the leader does not yet have a core of a few Christians, including 1-2 fellow leaders, who will join him on this mission, the leader should present his mission to his MC to seek those people.
Preparation for Launch
Step 4 – Heightened Intentional Outreach to the Prospects of each Core Member
Things to consider:
- Schedule weekly intentional parties, social gatherings, and activities in which to engage with prospects and to introduce them to the other members of the core. These could be large-scale parties involving all core members and many if not most of the prospects. Mostly these events are the sharing of everyday life and activities with one or two prospects and a member of two of your core.
- Regularly serve within the context you’re trying to reach. You could assess and try to fill the need of one of your prospects or invite your prospects to serve others in the context with you.
Step 5 – Pray for God’s Blessings
Things to consider:
- Gather weekly with your core to pray for the MC and the prospects.
- Distribute a prospect list with first names to other members of the core so that they can be prayed for individually.
Step 6 – Set A Date for Beginning the Story-Formed Way
Things to Consider:
- This is usually 4-10 weeks out depending on how much past work has been done in building relationships with prospects.
- Prayerfully discern who the “low hanging fruit” are and invite them to join you for the Story.
Launching and MC Life
Note: While the mission and outreach aspect of the MC has been going on for some time, the MC officially starts with the beginning of The Story Formed Way.
Step 7 – Launch with Beginning The Story-Formed Way
Things to consider:
- Create a weekly rhythm of gathering on the same night in the same place.
- Decide how often you will gather for the Story and if you’ll take a break from it to celebrate or serve in that same gathering time.
Step 8 – Mentor and be Mentored
Things to consider:
- Involve apprentice leaders in telling scenes from The Story and/or leading the dialogue as well as any further bible studies.
- Involve apprentice leaders in choosing and scheduling service and social events.
- If no one is willing to be an apprentice leader, casually involve them in leading the story, praying, planning, etc. and gradually give them more responsibility.
- Each leader and apprentice leader should attend Leadership training.
- Each leader should attend leader huddle and have a Coach.
Step 9 – Create a Rhythm of Serving and Celebrating
Things to consider:
- Serve within the context of your mission, that is, always connect your serving to the people you’re trying to reach and disciple.
- Continue the activities from Step 1.
Multiplication and Reproduction
Step 10 – Plan for Multiplication
Things to consider:
- Talk from the very beginning about the purpose of the group is to multiply and to reach others.
- Officially or unofficially mentor and train new leaders.
- Teach each member how to share the Gospel through telling the Biblical Story.
- Regularly rehurse among the leadership how to share the Gospel Story
Step 11 – Reproduction and Sending
Things to consider:
- Reproduction happens when an apprenticed leader is trained and ready.
- Sometimes that apprenticed leader is released with 2-3 others to start a new MC.
- Sometimes the existing leader takes 2-3 members and starts a new MC and the apprentice takes over.
- In the case where many members of the group were mentored simultaneously, the group then splits into as many teams are there are ready leaders to start new MCs.
- Other MCs and the Church celebrate the birth of new MC through a commissioning event with the church service.
- These new MCs began again at Steps 1 & 2
Whether you’re a member of our Church Plant and MC or not, Please comment if you think that there’s something that is needed. If you’d like a copy of the excel doc or the material please let me know.
The church that we are working with Jesus to plant is pretty void of programs. We want it to be as incarnational as possible where we are in the lives of others. We want to demonstrate the person of Christ through our presence and participation for the good in the lives of those around us. The incarnation is when Jesus took on human flesh, became one of us, and moved into the neighborhood. We too want to enter the stories of those around us and change them for the good by pointing to the one who changed and redeemed our story.
Listen to this five-minute Verge Network video from Michael Frost entitled, “How to Listen to your neighborhood”:
As we start planting Missional Communities, listening is a very important activity in determining how to reach and bless those we seek to disciple. As you think of your prospects, Have you listened to them?
- What is their story?
- What do they take joy in?
- What do they struggle with?
- Where do they need help?
- What will it take for them to succeed, be happy, keep their family together, feel worthwhile, etc?
- What do they think they need to have in life and what, if lost, do they feel would free them?
How do you feel you can incarnate their world? In what ways can we as an MC enter into their story and bless them and show them Jesus? In what ways can we, as an entire church, do the same?
In this Short 3 Minute Video below, Jeff and Caesar talk about how to make disciples. What they have to say is really important to starting, sustaining, and growing Missional Communities.
We’ve spoken before about inviting people into our lives before we invite them to our churches or to our MCs. Jeff and Caesar encourage us to invite them into the life of the disciple before they even become committed followers of Jesus.
- Why is it important to connect our acts of service to the people who we’re making disciples of?
- How does leading people in the ways that Jesus tells us to help open the doors to Gospel Conversations?
- How are you and your MC serving the unchurched around you and serving with the unchurched around you?
- Think of the neighborhoods, the people groups, the organizations in which your prospects live, work, and interact. How can you serve in those contexts and how can you invite others along?
Holy Week, especially Good Friday and Easter, is probably one of the best times to invite someone to a gospel presentation of some sort or to attend church with you.
In our Mother Church, we handed out bible tracts to all of our members. Each tracts simply told the story of Easter and why it is important. In each of those tracts was an invitation to one of our Good Friday or Easter Sunday services. We could have advertised over the radio, in the newspaper, or in mass mailings, but most people give a church a try because someone personally invited them. We encouraged each member of our church to hand that tract and invite to someone they know who was dechurched or unchurched and invite them to come to church with them.
Since we are in the process of starting a church and haven’t started formal services, I encourage you to invite some people to attend church with you at St. Paul. You could use the bible tracts if you’d like, but all of you know the Story and have been trained in telling it. You could share the tract or simply invite them to church. At Some point, be ready to tell the Story. Remember what can happen if you’re not prepared to tell the whole story. Telling them “Christ is risen” is indeed the central message of Christianity and Easter, but if you don’t expand on who he is, why he had to die, and what his resurrection will bring, the Easter Story won’t make much sense.
Again, Follow a Creation –> Fall –> Redemption –> Restoration pattern
Explain the God Created everything Good. The world was as it should be. Everything was perfect. We lived with God, others, ourselves, and creation in perfect relationships.
In the Fall, humanity joined in the rebellion of God’s enemy. They rejected God’s love and protection and sought life elsewhere. Their rebellion, called sin, broke all the perfect relationships we had at Creation. All creation began breaking down. Pain, suffering, natural disasters, war, violence, sickness, and death were all a result of our rebellion.
Yet God sent His Son into the World to Redeem all of Creation. He loved us so much that he was willing to carry all the burdens of our rebellion and to experience the worst of it as he died an excruciating death on the cross. He died the death we deserved and we receive an exchange. He took on our guilt on the cross so that we could take on his right standing with God. We are considered innocent because Jesus stood in our place and took our punishment as the guilty party. Jesus rose from the dead on Easter morning and proved he had defeated death. Now we have the assurance that because He lives, we’ll live also.
Jesus ascended back to His Father in Heaven, but before He left he gave us His Spirit. Through His Holy Spirit, Jesus now dwells in us. He has begun to restore us to the people we were meant to be as we have a new relationship with God and he has chosen to use us to start restoring in part the world around us as we display God’s goodness in our actions and share the good news of what He’s done with others. One day, God will bring all things to a full restoration. All the bad things of this world will no longer be remembered. God will restore all things as they were meant to be. The world will be perfect again. We’ll live in pleasure forever in the presence of God.
We all have this great hope. Make sure you share it with someone this Easter.