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?
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.
The Core Group of our Church plant has been meeting for the last few months and we’ve come to a point where we are near ready to start a couple Missional Communities. As we draw near the need to multiply, here are some things to Consider.
Where should we plant a Missional Community?
- Is there a places for potential service nearby?
- Are there any prospects or connections with the unchurched already?
- Are there other Christians living in the area who are commited to the vision?
- Do you have a meeting place available in the form of a house or apartment?
Who will lead in the MC?
- Who will be the primary leader of the MC?
- Who will Colead?
- Is there a balance of Prophet, Priest, and King perspectives among the leaders?
- Do they know the DNA and vision of our church plant? Do they unerstand Missional Communites?
- Have they experience in leading the Story or coleading other elements in MC life?
Who Could You Invite?
- 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 engaged 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 invite to your MC? If you don’t know your neighbors, get to know them. Bring them over some extra soup, invite them to a party, serve them in some way.
- Recreation – All of us have hobbies that we enjoy. God’s given us all unique 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?
For My Core Group: To prepare for our next meeting, please think and pray over the questions above. Pray for direction of the Holy Spirit, for open doors to Gospel conversations, and for coworkers and laberors.
Read the Gospel-Centered Life Chapter 12, Horizons. Also, Is anyone interested in leading The Story this week? Please let me know and I’ll get you the materials.