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Three Great Books On The Gospel and Missional Communities

Here are three books that have been instrumental in helping me understand the Gospel and how it shapes Communities on Mission.  Our friends from Soma alerted us of this deal.  These three Tim Chester and Steve Timmis books on Kindle $1.99 each!
If you are a member of our Missional Communities at The Exchange Community you’ll want to check these out:

Don’t Be Afraid To Pray In A New Missional Community

Our Church Plant just started our third missional community. We had a few neighbors join us as well as a woman who just joined our church plant from our parent church. Our MC evening included a meal, some wine, and the Story of God.  I’ve partied numerous times with these neighbors.  Since  they know I’m a pastor, I’ve tried to be very conscious of not doing anything that would make them feel uncomfortable with me.  So out of all the times we’ve hung out, we’ve only prayed once before a meal.

Yet here we were, the second night of our meeting, and I offered to pray before the meal.  I tried to use the least “Churchy” tone and language possible.  I just spoke as if God was in the room, nodding His head, listening to me. We ate, read and talked about The Story.  As we ended the evening, I remembered that God was Great so I didn’t have to be in control.  I remembered that he already brought these people to hear his Story.  He engaged them greatly in our dialogue, and it was time to ask God to work in their lives.  So as we were ending, I asked, “Before we go, is there anything you are going through that we can pray for?”  Everyone asked for something to be prayed for.

The next day one of our neighbors came over.  Her prayers, which dealt with conflict with a few different people, were all answered the very next day.  We rejoiced over God’s goodness with our friend and neighbor.  My wife and I rejoiced even more that evening as we saw her praise God on Facebook and speaking of how the amazing ways He was working in her life.  Her experience and her witness would never have been possible without prayer.

Picture found here

 

Don’t Go It Alone. Witness With the Help of Others

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:

  1. Who have you been trying to reach recently?
  2. Have you introduced them to other member of your MC?
  3. Who in your MC would connect well with the person/people you want to reach?
  4. How can you introduce them?  What kind of event, party, dinner, hang out, or entertainment would both parties feel comfortable in?
  5. Make plans to introduce these two groups in the  next 2 weeks?

 

Also see, Missional Training # 19: Sharing the Gospel….with a little help from your friends

Picture found here

Steps for Launching and Reproducing Missional Communities

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.  

 

Sowing Seeds

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:

  1. Who are the people you know?  What networks of relationships, friends, hobbies and…
  2. What people group (network/neighborhood) are you feeling called to reach?
  3. Who are the prospects who’s hearts God had been opening? Who will help us accomplish this work?
  4. Who are the people that have the potential to open up a wider network of prospects?
  5. 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:

  1. Who of an existing MC feels called to lead a missional community? Have they been mentored?
  2. Who does the sending MC feel is able and qualified to lead? 
  3. Who has a passion to reach a certain people group?

Step 3 – Select a Mission

 Things to consider:

  1. The leader (and the core) selects a mission to a specific neighborhood, people group, etc, usually connected to the relationships built up with prospects. 
  2. 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:

  1. 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.    
  2. 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:

  1. Gather weekly with your core to pray for the MC and the prospects.
  2. 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:

  1. This is usually 4-10 weeks out depending on how much past work has been done in building relationships with prospects. 
  2. 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:

  1. Create a weekly rhythm of gathering on the same night in the same place.
  2. 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:

  1. Involve apprentice leaders in telling scenes from The Story and/or leading the dialogue as well as any further bible studies.  
  2. Involve apprentice leaders in choosing and scheduling service and social events.
  3. 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.
  4. Each leader and apprentice leader should attend Leadership training.
  5. Each leader should attend leader huddle and have a Coach.

Step 9 – Create a Rhythm of Serving and Celebrating

 Things to consider:

  1. Serve within the context of your mission, that is, always connect your serving to the people you’re trying to reach and disciple.
  2. Continue the activities from Step 1. 

Multiplication and Reproduction

 Step 10 – Plan for Multiplication

Things to consider:

  1. Talk from the very beginning about the purpose of the group is to multiply and to reach others. 
  2. Officially or unofficially mentor and train new leaders.
  3. Teach each member how to share the Gospel through telling the Biblical Story.
  4. Regularly rehurse among the leadership how to share the Gospel Story

Step 11 – Reproduction and Sending

Things to consider:

  1. Reproduction happens when an apprenticed leader is trained and ready.
  2. Sometimes that apprenticed leader is released with 2-3 others to start a new MC.
  3. Sometimes the existing leader takes 2-3 members and starts a new MC and the apprentice takes over. 
  4. 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.
  5. Other MCs and the Church celebrate the birth of new MC through a commissioning event with the church service.    
  6. 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.

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