Our church’s 2014 goal is to launch 60 missional communities. However, because we are in the process of transitioning from a traditional Sunday school model to a missional community model, we find ourselves answering many questions each week. Every time a new group is launched, a new question is raised. Please understand that each of our campuses operates in its own context, so the answers are still works in process. My next two posts will focus on the FAQs of the Family Church network’s missional communities.
What is a missional community?
A missional community can be defined as Christ followers living on mission, inviting friends and neighbors to join us as we pursue God’s design for life and family. For a more detailed discussion of this topic, you can check out my last blog.
What does a missional community do?
Each missional community leader is given the freedom to discern how many meetings the group should have per month. Some communities meet every week and some meet twice a month. Each group is slightly different.
The focus of the first meeting of the month is discipleship. The community gathers for the purposes of exhortation, prayer, accountability, and fellowship. This meeting will always include a shared meal. In addition to study and prayer time, a key discussion for the group is its monthly community gathering that involves unbelieving friends and neighbors. A typical question would be, “What could we do as a group that nonbelieving friends outside our group might attend?” The activity, date, and time are set during this “week 1” meeting.
The purpose of the second meeting of the month is to have a social gathering. This gathering is planned for a time and place where other people in the community would be willing and able to attend, allowing the group to have a more visible presence.
When and where does a missional community meet?
The first meeting of the month will typically take place in the home of one of the community’s members. The key word here is flexibility. Each missional community will determine the best time and place to meet.
How does a missional community start?
Thus far in our experience, missional communities start in two ways. First, we identify people gifted to lead and ask them to consider starting a missional community. Next, we encourage these individuals to recruit a co-leader. Once this takes place, we encourage the leader and co-leader to recruit another individual or couple to the group. Then the group officially launches as a missional community. Our communities typically launch with between 7 and 20 people. But, again, each group begins with a leader(s) and co-leader(s), who then invite members to their group. There was no churchwide sign-up offered. However, to ensure that those desiring to be part of a missional community were invited, we took three Sunday mornings to invite people to fill out an interest card. Each of these names was given to our missional community leaders who followed up on them.
The second way in which a missional community begins is by one group launching a new group. From their very onset, we are asking missional communities to plan for multiplication. This is why each group has both a leader and a co-leader. As the group grows and new leaders are identified, the groups will multiply. Multiplication is one of the ways we measure the effectiveness of our missional communities.