Recently in the history of our nation, we've seen a dramatic shift in how the culture relates to the Christian faith. In the past, the culture of the United States was dominantly a Christian culture. As a result, almost everyone went to some kind of church and churches were the centers of activity and communities. Today, the cultural climate is constantly changing and it is no longer the case that the church is the center of community. Instead various subcultures or groups of people have developed community in other ways, sometimes around particular geographic areas, like a neighborhood, but also around shared interests and activities, like surfing for example. We are increasingly living in a nation that resembles the wide range and mix of philosophies, beliefs, and lifestyles that Paul encountered in the Roman Empire in the book of Acts. This transition in culture is resulting in a need for us, as the Church, to transition our strategies for fulfilling the Mission of the Church to seek and save the lost and in seeing the kingdom of God come to every people group.
We are increasingly finding that larger and larger portions of the population see the institutional church as just one more subculture or community of people. The same way missionaries wouldn't expect a group of people in India to sing in English, and follow the format of American churches, so also our hope, in this rapidly changing climate, is to adopt a model that is missionary in nature, that takes the gospel to different cultures and groups of people finding a diversity and variety of gospel expression rather than trying to force these different communities into a particular expression of "church".
Rather than sending individuals out on their own to try and accomplish this kingdom growth, we believe that we are called as a body, as Missional Communities, to work together each with their own gift, to reach a particular group of people that God has placed on our hearts. The basic structure of a Missional Community, should look similar to how the church functions, because these groups are the church, the body of Christ, in the world.
These missional communities are Families of God, Learners of our Lord Jesus, and Servants in the world. They each in and of themselves are an expression of God's Church on mission to seek and save the lost, they are families of servant learners.
They are families that love one another because Jesus said "By this everyone will know that your are my disciples, if you love one another." (John 13:35) The Missional Communities are family and practice eating together, fellowship, loving, and caring for one another.
They are learners that teach each other, disciple each other, in order that we are prepared as missionaries to "give a reason for the hope within us" (1 Peter 3:15). The Missional Communites, as learners, listen to their people group, and discover a way of telling the story of God as a gospel proclamation in a way that particular group of people can understand.
They are servants to their chosen groups of people because our Lord Jesus "did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many" (Matthew 20:28). The Missional Communities listen, alter their lifestyle patterns, and find ways to serve their particular groups of people as a demonstration of the gospel.
The first step in forming a Missional Community, is much like that in sending a long term mission team. A body of believers, a core group, must understand the vision and devote some time and effort to this endeavor. On Saturday, October 20th, from 10:00 AM - 12:00 PM (You didn't miss it! The video of this teaching is available here!), I will host a 2 hour seminar to dive deeper into what a Missional Community is, answer questions, and hopefully gather together those whom God has called to go, who want to respond to Jesus when he says "Peace be with you! As the Father has sent me, I am sending you" (John 20:21). If you have any questions, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org, write Missional Community on your Communication Card at one of our services, or comment below.