I’ve learned a whole heck of a lot from Soma Communities, on Church Planting, Sharing the Gospel, and missional communities that we are implementing in the creation of The Exchange Community in Jackson, Mo. Recently Soma did a fast track training for their missional community leaders. This is some great material to go through if you’re leading a missional community or are interested in starting a missional community
Here’s the links to Soma’s Fast Track Training Audio/Video and their notes:
1. The Story of God // Caesar Kalinowski
2. Vision for Missional Communities // Jeff Vanderstelt
3. Gospel, Power & Purpose // Jeff Vanderstelt
4. Gospel DNA // Jeff Vanderstelt & Abe Meysenburg
5. Gospel in Everyday Rhythms // Jeff Vanderstelt
6. Gospel Fluency // Jeff Vanderstelt
7. Creating a Disciple-Making Enviroment // Jeff Vanderstelt
8. Gospel Shepherding // Abe Meysenburg
9. Missional Community Covenant // Jeff Vanderstelt
10. Spirit Led Life // Jeff Vanderstelt
11. Spiritual Warfare // Jeff Vanderstelt
Here’s a link to all of their materials
Picture found here along with the post: Ten Reasons Missional Communities Fail
The Scriptures are often full of calls to humble oneself, take up your cross, deny yourself, decrease in importance so Christ can increase, to lose your life in order to find it in Christ, to become less of a focus so more of Christ can be seen through you. We often don’t find fulfillment in Christ or success in mission because we desperately are afraid of dying. Watch this short video from Jeff Vandertelt:
We’ve got nothing to really lose, and, surprisingly, nothing to gain either, in living life on mission. We have everything already! In Jesus we already have the eternal love, favor, and kingdom of our Heavenly Father! We have his unconditional acceptance no matter how we perform, no matter what we accomplish, no matter how we fail. The only thing we DO have to gain in dying to ourselves and living for God’s purposes is the precious life of someone lost who can be found through YOU. And what’s funny, is when we lay down our lives, desires, and preferences for the good of God’s kingdom and the benefit of others, we actually find life that if abundant, full, and meaningful! Our doubts, anxieties, and problems fade away because our eyes are off ourselves and are placed where they were created to be, on our Savior and on others. We’re then filled with the greatest joy of being on the grandest adventure of all as we join in Christ’s mission.
- If what Jeff says in this video is true, how should it change your life, your ministry, your priorities?
- What do you need to die to in order to live for God’s glory and the salvation of others?
- How is Jesus the answer to all the fears in your heart on this issue? How is he greater than the things you will give up?
Purchase the full talk from the Verge Network here for $2.99.
Labor day is one of those days of rest and rejuvenation. For our Nation its a yearly rhythm of rest that we all enjoy, but can also be leveraged for gospel purposes. Below are 5 ways you can be missional this Labor Day
- Hold a neighborhood barbeque. Invite everyone on the block. If you’ve never done this in your neighborhood, don’t ask them to bring all the food. Partner with a few members of your Missional Community or Small group to pay for the meal. For those who have participated in the past, encourage them to partner with you in bringing a side dish to share.
- If you own a boat or have a place at the lake, Labor Day is a great day for a little cross-pollination. Invite a couple from your Missional Community and invite another couple who are unchurched or dechurched. It’s a great time to introduce friends and build trust between your Christian community and those who don’t yet believe.
- Invite your unchurched friends to join you and another Christian in Something you love. If you love to camp or fish. If you just take the opportunity of Labor Day to hit up a good matinée and some lunch, invite unchurched this is another great opportunity for cross-pollination and trust building.
- Show care to first responders. A lot of people have Labor Day off. Some work it every year. Show love to your first responders. Bring by food or gift packages for your firemen or police officers. Talk to the Fire chief or police chief and see if your Missional Community, Small Group, or church can set up some grills and serve them a meal.
- If school doesn’t start for your community until after Labor Day, serve the underprivileged about to go back to school. Pay a beautician or barber to come in and offer free haircuts. Collect and hand out backpacks and school supplies.
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- Host An Easter Egg Hunt. Get together with your small group or Missional Community and hold a neighborhood Easter Egg hunt. If you have connecting lawns (i.e. without fences) talk to your neighbors on either side of you and make arrangements to hide eggs on their lawns as well. Use mostly plastic eggs with Candy inside, but you could also have some hard boiled eggs as well. Send flyers out to all the neighborhood families with Kids 2 weeks in advance.
- Have an Easter barbecue. On the Saturday before Easter, invite people over for the first barbecue of the year. Have games like washers, Hill Billy golf, beanbag toss, etc. for the kids and adults to play.
- Have an Easter brunch. On Easter invite your neighbors to come over Sunday at noon for Egg bake casserole.
- Create Easter Snack Baskets For Your Neighbors. Especially if your neighbors don’t have children or grand children, they might not have much reason to get Easter Candy. Make a little gift bag for each house on the block and hand them out with a simple message, “Happy Easter from the _________Family.”
Now if you noticed I didn’t say much about overt evangelism in any of the above suggestions. That can be done. Yet, your initial goal might just be to get to know your neighbors and to create a greater sense of community in your neighborhood. Depending on where you are with building trust and friendship with your neighbors, you might want to add some Gospel elements into any of the above suggestions.
- With an Easter egg hunt, you could hide some resurrection eggs amongst the kids. Mark each Resurrection egg with a Cross. When the hunt is over, gather all the kids afterwards and talk about each item that they found. Make sure you trade a great piece of candy for the Resurrection eggs.
- Share an Easter story book or video with the children to share the real meaning of Easter. This is also a great time to give the parents a break by providing them snakes and drinks. Get to know the parents while the kids are busy with the story and supervised in the other room.
- Decorate Easter cookies. Bake plenty of Easter themed sugar cookies. Have the traditional eggs, ducks, and bunnies, but also crosses and any other biblical Easter cookie shapes you can find. Talk about how each one connects to Easter.
- Do an Easter craft. Decorate crosses, foam door hangers, wreaths or create your own resurrection scenes. There are some great resources for doing crafts and telling the Easter message.
- Hand out age appropriate Easter tracts, books or videos.
I hope this helps you take a step towards building relationships with your neighbors and possibly witnessing to the love of Christ. It almost goes without saying, but you can always invite your neighbors or friends to church Good Friday or Sunday Morning. These days are often some of the most compelling and evangelist sermons of the year and often have cool experiential elements as well in many churches. Whatever you do, do it prayerfully and know that God’s working through it.
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Millions of people are getting ready to watch the Super Bowl this Sunday. Personally, I’m not a huge football fan. Usually the Super Bowl is the only game I watch all year, but even though I don’t love the game, I love hanging out with people. The commercials and the food are always good as well. Yet can one use the Super Bowl as a chance to witness?
Here are a few things to think about being Missional with the Super Bowl:
- Don’t hijack the Super Bowl. Don’t have a bible study during the half-time show or the commercial breaks. People aren’t going to appreciate a bait and switch, especially if it means missing things something they really enjoy on Super Bowl Sunday.
- Host a Superbowl party and invite some unchurched people to get to know them better. Also invite at least 2 or 3 members of your Missional Community so that relationships are formed between both groups. This will make it easier to invite them to join your MC for the Story later.
- Make it better. If you’ve been invited to a Super Bowl party already, how can you “Bring the better wine” as Jeff Vanderstelf often says? Bring the best food or drinks. Be the biggest helper to the host. How can you make things better for everyone so that people are glad that the Christians showed up at the party?
- Listen to others. As you discuss sports, the commercials, and life, listen to the stories others are telling. They will give you clues to where the Gospel can be spoken into their lives.
- See this Sunday as an opportunity to serve. Ask the host if they need you to show up early to help set up. Be quick to pitch in as needs arise, and stay to help clean when the party is over.
- Pray. If you’re hosting, share a quick prayer of thanks for the food and all your friends. Pray before, during, and after, that God might show his love thorough you and that relationships and trust might be built.
Any other suggestions?
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Picture found here along with some great Super Bowl appetizers
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.
Christmas is one of the most magical times of the year. While there are a lot of distractions from its true meaning, Christmas is still a great time to share the message of God’s love through Jesus Christ. Below are seven ways you can reach out to others and show God’s love this Christmas.
1. Give gifts to people who really need help.
- There are scores of organizations that help you give a Christmas Gift in the name of Christ. We do a giving tree at our church and collect toys and presents that have been request from poor parent’s for their children. Toys for Tots is another great tradition. Let you kids help and see that Christmas isn’t about them and their presents but giving gifts because of the gift we’ve receive of Jesus and the eternal life He brings.
- Give a Life-Giving Gift because of the Life-Giving Gift we’ve received in Jesus. World Vision and Living Water are great places you can give life-giving gifts of water, food, or animals to improve the lives of children across the world. You can give a gift on behalf of another in addition or in replacement of a gift you would normally give.
- Is there someone in your neighborhood or at work that is in need of something this Christmas? Don’t just spend money to spend money, but if you know a need, try to fill it.
2. Give Small gifts to your Neighbors
- My wife loves to bake. Every year, she makes a number of goody sacks to hand out to our neighbors. Then we go door-to-door and hand them out to people. It’s a great reason to knock on a neighbor’s door and spend a couple of minutes getting to know them a little better. We just had a neighborhood bonfire last month. When we invited one neighbor, she immediately asked if we were the people who came over and gave them cookies two years before. She still remembered and it seemed to make it easier for her to join us because of the groundwork that was laid two years before.
3. Invite someone to your Christmas Celebration
- At certain times in our lives, we know people who don’t have anywhere to go on Christmas. Some just don’t have family. Some Just live too far away for their families to get together. Is there someone like this in your life, Maybe a college student or an elderly neighbor? If so, make sure you invite them to join your family for Christmas. You don’t have to invite everyone, but if you see someone who will be alone, invite them into your family for that evening.
- We have a Christmas Celebration every year. Our Church has a few Church services every Christmas Eve. We have people over between 5 and 7 that night. We invite anyone we know to come over for some chilli, soup, and a lot of Christmas snacks and beverages. We invite friends who volunteer and have to be at each church service that night so that they have somewhere to go to kill some time. But we also invite some neighbors to stop by if they like. Surprisingly, a number of them do. We then reserve Christmas Morning just for family.
4. Bless those who can’t celebrate Christmas
- Think about the Firefighters, Police officers, Gas Station Attendant who have to work on Christmas Eve or Christmas morning. Bring them a gift basket of donuts or Christmas goodies to bless them when they are probably feeling low from being away from their families. Maybe even leave them a Christmas card and a written message about Jesus’ birth. For more check out this article.
5. Rehearse the Christmas Story
- Peter says we must always be ready to give an answer for our faith anytime someone asks (1 pe 3:15). At Christmas time, especially if you’re showing love in unexpected ways, people are going to ask you why. We have to be ready. In our Church plant we are always rehearsing the Gospel Story through the major themes of Creation -> Fall -> Redemption -> Restoration. It’s real easy to be ready to tell a shortened version of this story with an emphasis on the expectation of the messiah and the birth of Jesus. Don’t just tell people “This is the day Jesus was born.” Explain to them the whole story and why Jesus’ birth is important. If not, people won’t understand the message.
6. Invite people to your Christmas Church Services
- As Christians, we should be in the habit of inviting people into our lives before we invite them to church. Yet if there is any day when unchurched or dechurch people are willing to go to church it might be Christmas. During the Christmas season, many are hurting and longing for something more. They’re searching to reclaim some magic in the world. If you know someone who isn’t going to be going to church, invite them to join you. Pick them up, sit together, and talk about the message, the music, and anything else that can further the conversation.
7. Gather your MC and sing Christmas Carols
- I was hesitant to put this one down. I’m not sure if caroling is really helpful in the Christian witness. It seems a bit intrusive like cold-call evangelism. Yet, I do believe this could be done right. I think elderly people would be more accepting of this gift of music. It’s something they experienced or participated in as a youth and is likely to bring warm feelings of nostalgia. The other group I think would benefit this is if you went caroling at people’s homes that you’ve been sharing life with through your Missional Community. If enough ground work has already been laid, Caroling could be a great way to sing the Gospel message and show love, yet not seem too strange.
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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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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Within our Missional Communities, you can find a balance of three Core Values: Gospel, Community, and Mission.
The gospel is not just the ticket to salvation; it’s the good news of a restored relationship with God, through the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus. This good news renews and transforms our hearts and lives. The Gospel is not only what gives us life when we become a Christian, but it is what sustains, grows, and matures our life and faith. The Gospel is the revelation of God’s love for us, His purpose for us, and He Himself come to live and dwell in us through His Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit empowers us to believe, recreates us into His Family, the Church, and enables us to live for Him.
Gospel Activity in an MC is centered on the person and work of Jesus Christ revealed through scriptures. Gospel activity includes Bible study, The Story Formed Way, praying for one another, encouraging and admonishing one another by applying the Gospel to one another’s lives.
We were made to live in relationships. Everybody yearns to belong, to be part of a family. Community forms around the world through work, play, interests, geography, family, etc. The Gospel Community is a unique community because it is created by the Gospel. This kind of Community forms because of the common recognition that we’re all beggars, we’re all helpless before God because of sin, yet we’re all loved, accepted, and useful to him because of the work of Jesus Christ. The Gospel can be seen and understood through this community as they live in confession, forgiveness, love, justice, mercy, gratitude and acceptance, as they cross lines of age, sex, wealth, and occupation. The Gospel Community can only be explained because of the Gospel, and therefore leads to an inquiry and explanation of the Gospel as we live the Christian walk in everyday life together.
Community Activity can include Shared meals, meeting new people, introducing new people to members of the MC, learning each other’s stories, celebrations, various social activities, sports, etc.
The Christian community is created by the Gospel to show and the share the Gospel. No healthy Christian Community can be inward focused. Rather it is always seeking to join God’s mission through transforming its community through acts of love and the proclamation of the person and work of Christ. Because the Christian community demonstrates and validates the gospel, mission shouldn’t usually be a lone activity. Wherever possible we want to do mission together and introduce unbelievers to the Christian community.
Mission activity can include service projects, cleaning, fixing, building, painting structures and homes in your neighborhood. They can include, sharing the Story of God, sharing the Gospel, offering prayer, investing in and enriching the lives of others, seeking a relationship with those you don’t know, inviting others into the lives of an MC and the Church.
A healthy MC has a balance of activities shaped by these values. Yet not all MCs start this way. For example, Many Missional Communities will have a greater emphasis on Community early on. For most people, a growing relationship is necessary before they are willing to open up about their faith life, fears, doubts, and hopes . A good relational foundation usually needs to be established before they are willing to trust you enough to be vulnerable in the Gospel or take risks in Mission.
As relationships are built, and trust is earned, it is time to introduce more Gospel and Mission elements. At first, you may have simply had a prayer at the beginning of a social activity and may have demonstrated small acts of kindness and service. Over time, you’ll probably add some sort of short devotional, and find some organized way to serve others in your community.
Your end goal is that you’re spending equal time on Gospel, Community, and Mission oriented activities and events. You’ll be going through the Story-Formed Way, the Gospel-Centred Life, or some other bible Study. You’ll be discipling one another in all three types of activities, and you’ll be regularly and intentionally serve in your neighborhood or community.
Remember that there is a great deal of overlap between each of these values. While everything you can do probably has a dominant GCM value at play, usually one or both of the other values are also present as well.
For more on GCM Values and Missional Communities check out the GCM Collective.