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MC’s & Established churches | Part 1

May 24, 2010

Aidan: I was thinking the other day, and I said to myself, “Self, a lot of the questions you’ve been asking and the angle you approach these blog conversations with is through the lens of a church planter. I wonder what questions people in traditional/established churches would be asking.”

Mike: That’s probably a realistic insight. So what did you come up with?

Aidan: Well I know how our community is launching Missional Communities, but we are a church plant. It’s got to be quite different with a traditional church. What are some ways you’ve seen MC’s launched out of traditional or more established churches?

Mike: Great question.

Well one thing I’ve seen in more established churches, where people probably grew up in the church, is that if you’re going to ask MC Leaders to do OUT (grow the group through people who may not know Jesus yet), sometimes they need help (particularly if they are pastoral). What they need is a context to do it in that seems accessible and safe for them: a Sunday morning service.

Aidan: OK…I hear that…but isn’t that missing the point? If they are at church already, how are MC’s doing OUT?

Mike: I don’t assume that because someone is in church they also already know the Lord. Maybe they did in the past and that relationship is strained. Maybe they’ve never darkened the door of the church and this is their first time. Maybe they are new to the area. All of these people need the spiritual family that is MC life.

Aidan: So what would you do? What are some ways to have your MC Leaders engage with OUT during a Sunday morning?

Mike: Tell you what, I’ll give you 5 ways. We’ll do two today and three in a day or two.

1) For one Sunday, have your whole MC function as the Greeting Team. They hold doors and welcome people, they hand out bulletins, they serve as the ushers and seat new people.

What I tell them is that this is a fishing exercise. At certain times of the year there is a larger proportion of new people checking out the church. You’ve got new people coming in. Look out for the people you don’t know. I’d have them say something like, “I’m not sure I know you, you may have been here for 20 years, but my name is ________. How are you today?” (strike up a conversation)

The point is not only that they feel welcome, but that this conversation can serve as a connection to Missional Community life.

If at some point you say, “Hey, there are 30 of us from this church getting together for dinner, why don’t you guys come too”…there’s a really good chance they are going to come! In fact, if they just moved into the area, they are definitely coming. Why wouldn’t they? They don’t have any community yet. They are at your church. You are offering them easy entry.

2) Have newcomers fill out connections cards. Carve out space in the service where nothing is happening and everyone is filling out this card. Make sure it has a place for their name, address, email, phone and even a spot for prayer requests. The second thing you can do with this is quite simple: Give the prayer requests to an MC. Have a time where the MC gathers and prays together for these requests…and then check in on them!

“Hey, my name is ___________ and I know you don’t know me, I’m in the (name of Missional Community) MC. We got your prayer request and were praying for you, and I wanted to check in. Has anything happened? Anything changed? Anything we can help with?”

Aidan: Couldn’t that be really intrusive for some people?

Mike: Definitely. That’s why the leader really needs to show discretion and discernment. Some requests are better following up with than others. Some just should be prayed for in earnest and that’s it.

Aidan: So I know we’re going over another three ideas in the next post, but I’ve got to be honest, I’m a little uncomfortable using the “attractional” model as a sort of funnel. It seems…I don’t know…off?

Mike: To be honest, I think this is what we have to understand: Attractional churches are deeply and virally flawed, but let’s not throw the baby out with the bath water.

If an attractional church wants to become more missional (and not just the cute buzzword), that will take time and it needs to be transitioned. What I have seen is that MC’s are missionally attractive….so when you put them to work and on display in an attractional setting, they have a sort of gravitational field to them. People want community and relationships, they don’t want programs. If their touch point with your church on their first Sunday is someone inviting them into a safe thing like a dinner with people and not a new members class or another program-based thing, they will be really receptive to it.

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