1 DON’T EXPECT EVERYONE TO “GET IT”
This is where leaders get hung up a lot: they read a book (like Total Church), go to a conference (like Verge), develop a man crush on a leader (like Jeff Vanderstelt), and suddenly expect everybody in their community to “get it”.
The reality is that all of us are new at being the church this way (missional communities), and the people you are leading are either new Christians (who will shockingly…act like new Christians) or they have been Christians for a while (which means they have years of experiencing “church” a certain way).
How do you know if this is you? You spend a lot of time being frustrated with the very people you are called to love and lead.
2 DON’T JUST TEACH PEOPLE “HOW TO LIVE” AND FORGET TO TEACH THEM “WHO THEY ARE”.
There is nothing quite like a group of people “doing missional community” that have no idea that Jesus loves them. It’s a mess. It’s a new legalism that will lead to all sorts of awkwardness that actually isn’t very missional at all.
The planting of Missional Churches is attracting lots of new “converts”, including:
*Church-hopping Christians looking for a new church
*Socially-minded Christians who have grown bored of their contemporary church
*Former youth group kids who bailed on the church during their college years and wild 20’s, who are now married with kids, and looking to re-connect to their faith (or at least get their kids involved)
Hopefully our “missional” churches are seeing people who were not Christians…become Christians. (If this is not happening we may need to re-think what the mission is?)
I am currently finding this book, The Walk, very helpful as I read through it with some folks in our community who are brand new to the faith. I highly recommend it!
What resources are you using to help the new believers in your community?
So which is more important? Talking about Jesus or Loving Your Neighbor?
What we have faith in will determine which is more important.
I can hear you saying “that is easy, my faith is in Jesus.”
Which begs the question; “Jesus who?” Ambiguous Jesus?
If you have faith that Jesus is the Christ, that he alone saves, then I believe that you will be driven to talk about Jesus, to share your faith with those that do not know him. Let’s be honest, if that is what you believe to be true, to not say anything would just be mean.
On the other hand if you have faith that Jesus is Lord, that he rules and reigns and is making all things new, than you will be driven to love your neighbor, fight for human dignity, feed the hungry, and house the poor.
The problem is that many people have put their faith in an Ambiguous Jesus (who is neither Christ or Lord).
If the most succinct way to say the Gospel is “Jesus Christ is Lord”, then to follow Jesus may look a lot like a community of people who both:
talk about Jesus in a way that says he is the Christ…
and love their neighbors in a way that says he is the Lord.
Let’s just say you are working a full-time job (or working as a stay at home mom which is harder), trying to workout once in once in a while, looking for time, money (and childcare) so you can pull off an occasional “date night”, raising a couple crazy kids….and now you find yourself in the middle of a missional community…..uh oh.
I forgot to mention that you are more aware than ever of your co-workers who are not Christians, and you really want to get to know them….but in the middle of soccer games, play dates, keeping up the house, and serving your church, where will you find the time?
You are still trying to find time to do that serve project with your Missional Community (that hasn’t happened in 3 months), plan your next lunch meeting with your discipleship group (that so and so keeps rescheduling), and get to know the neighbors that have lived across the street for over a year (and you don’t even know their names).
So as the dishes pile up, the laundry falls behind, and the kids grow more insane by the hour….we settle into a feeling commonly referred to as overwhelmed.
Stay here too long and you are heading towards a healthy portion of burnout with a side of joylessness….
If you have ever felt this way you are not alone.
So why would you want to live on mission?
1) You’re insane
Let’s go with Jesus.
You have discovered that God loves you! You have received his grace apart from anything you have ever done, or anything you will ever do…and because the Gospel is such good news you are taking serious the call to follow Jesus, to make disciples, to love your neighbor.
So how can you live on mission?
1) On your own (which seems to keep leading to overwhelmed)
2) Like Jesus
Let’s go with “like Jesus.”
Jesus himself said it like this:
“Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, even so I am sending you.”
If we are really going to be sent like Jesus, it would be helpful to ask “how was Jesus sent?”
So let’s consider just two attributes of his sent-ness that I believe can help us in our overwhelmedness (is that a word?)
Jesus Was Sent On Purpose
The birth, life, death, and resurrection were on purpose, some would call this intentional.
Jesus was on a specific mission with specific people.
Jesus taught specific things and prayed specific prayers.
Jesus Was Not Sent Alone
Jesus didn’t go alone. That is incredible!
Jesus was dependant on the Father and relied on the power of the Word and The Spirit.
Jesus didn’t travel alone but shared his life with some messy guys who struggled to believe him.
So what does all this mean for us?
Go On Purpose
Do more by doing less. Make a “don’t do list”. Trim the fat.
You can’t do everything. You were never meant to. Get focused.
Maybe the kids can’t do every sport, every art class, or every dance class. Pick one.
Maybe you can’t get to know every neighbor on your street. Get to know one.
Maybe you can’t disciple every new believer in your church. Disciple one.
And maybe it’s time to break out the calendar…because if it’s important…you will schedule it.
Schedule time to pray…and time to read.
Schedule time to rest…and time to play.
Schedule fun times with your family…and nights out with your spouse.
Stop the madness. Do more by doing less. Go on purpose.
Don’t Go Alone
Don’t even try!
You have the Fathers love…lean into it.
You have the words of Jesus…read them.
You have the Spirit (full of comfort, wisdom, and power)…ask for help.
You have the Church….be a part of it.
Hope this helps!
I thought I would begin posting some replies to frequently asked questions on “Missional Community”.
Here is one I have gotten a lot, “how do you train your leaders?”.
One of the ways we train MC Leaders is through a monthly dinner where we gather all of our leaders (and their leaders in training) and equip on a particular leadership development topic.
Here is what we are in the middle of doing for 2012:
JANUARY “Reproducing Yourself”
This session teaches leaders how to reproduce themselves, identify a “leader in training” , and how to initiate life on life discipleship.
FEBRUARY “Leading Gospel Conversations”
This session teaches “know-love-speak” (Gospel Counsel) as a way of leading Gospel Conversations in our communities and on mission.
MARCH “What is Missional?”
This session teaches on “missional” and how the Gospel (Jesus Christ is Lord) creates a community that both shares (talks about) and shows (social action) the good news of Jesus.
APRIL “Gospel Generosity”
This session teaches how the Gospel creates a generous community and how to create a culture of generosity in our MC’s.
MAY “How To Be Sent (In A Busy City)“
This session teaches on being sent like Jesus and specifically equips leaders in intentionality, scheduling, dependence on God and the Church, and shared leadership.
JUNE “Austin City Life (The Big Picture)”
This session teaches the “big picture” of Austin City Life and covers our basic structures, assimilation strategy, vision, and the role MC’s and expression play in the Church.
JULY “Devotional Life of a Leader”
This session teaches the importance of the devotional life of a leader, standing in the Gospel, being aware of our affections and longings, and Spirit-led leadership.
AUGUST “MC Leader Appreciation Party ”
Hey it is 103 degrees, summer is coming to a close, and the kids are heading back to school: a great time to have a pool party and say “thank you”!
SEPTEMBER “Gospel-Centered Ministry”
This session teaches Gospel-Centered Ministry: Sharing the Gospel, Gospel Metaphors, Gospel Benefits, Gospel Identity, etc (this is a “Gospel-Centered Everything” persons dream come true!)
OCTOBER “Adopting and Sending Global Missionaries”
This session equips our MC Leaders to adopt, care for, and pray for global missionaries.
NOVEMBER “Leading People through the MC Primer”
This session equips our leaders to lead their groups through the “MC Primer” and making a missional commitment.
DECEMBER “Christmas Party and Leader Appreciation”
*ADDITIONAL TOPICS THAT HAVE NOT FOUND A HOME
These topics have been discussed and are coached but currently have no “home” in the current “monthly training” schedule.
“A Missional Family”- Leading a family on mission.
“CG Administration”- The nuts and bolts of MC structure and communication.
“Conflict and Tension In Community”- Gods appointed grace for our change.
“Hospitality and Celebration”- A biblical view of hospitality and celebration.
Hope this helps!