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Missional Community series | Post #20

April 22, 2011

The following is a terrific post that Alex Absalom recently wrote on his blog. Alex is my co-author of the book Launching Missional Communities. (And btw–we know many of you have been trying to order it. Due to so much demand, we’ve had a hard time keeping it on the shelves! But a new shipment has come in and you can order it here. Our sincere apologies).

Lastly, before we get to the post on your mission target, a quick reminder that myself, Alex and the 3DM Team will be at the Exponential Conference this upcoming week doing something like 5-6 workshops and our own Jo Saxton will be speaking main stage! If you’re going to be at Exponential in Orlando, we’d love to see you. Drop by one of our workshops or come by 3DM’s booth.

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In our experience, the most effective Missional Communities that we have seen are the ones that have the clearest mission vision.  In other words, the leaders are crystal clear as to who they are trying primarily to serve and witness to.

This means a specific group of people who are not yet whole-hearted disciples of Jesus.  You can define the group by neighborhood (ie geography) or network (of relationships – such as a common interest), although obviously both aspects are always at work to some extent.  There is no ‘wrong answer’ here!  The question is, who should be at the center of your mission vision?

One way to think about this is to ask yourself, ‘In the new MC, where will we put our proactive energy?’.  Yes, there will always be unexpected situations that we are called to react to.  However, just relying on those moments is no way to build an effective and growing Missional Community.

Instead, you as the leader need to define who it is that your MC is called to focus upon as you go out in mission (ie in witness and service).  This is absolutely critical for defining your MC culture, because everything else flows from this.  For instance, the time, location, food you eat and how you socialize will be determined by who you are reaching.  Likewise, the way in which you pray, the style of worship or the language that you use to describe spirituality will all be impacted by your mission focus.

So the starting point is to work out who your mission vision is to.

The questions at the end will help you on this journey, although there is one that generally is the most useful one, namely, who are your People of Peace?

Jesus teaches us about the idea of People of Peace in Luke 10:1-11 (centered around verse 6).  A very brief summary would show us that a Person of Peace is someone who:

  • Welcomes you
  • Receives you (and, unknowingly, Jesus in you)
  • Serves you
  • You mutually connect with
  • Opens doorways into their network of relationships
  • Consequently, you intentionally prioritize your friendship with them.

My unsophisticated summary for all this is, ‘They like you and you like them’!

OK, it is not always totally that black and white, but that is a very good starting point.  The principle Jesus teaches us is that the fields are so white for harvest that we should start with the easiest pickings first.  Those will be different for different people, which should mean that if everyone plays their part, the whole field will be harvested!

Your role is to work out where you are meant to be focusing at this time.  Essentially, Jesus asks:

–  Where do you have favor?
–  Who is already responding positively to you?
–  Where do you think you will easily connect and impact lives?

Therefore, as you are thinking about where you should be witnessing and planting a Missional Community, a key indicator is, where are your People (or Person) of Peace?

The gatekeeper principle is important here.  A Person of Peace will introduce you to others in their social network, giving you credibility and creating opportunity for you to impact a whole group of unchurched people.   I’ll blog more on that another time.

The other thing to note is that a mission vision is not a static thing – it evolves and develops over time.  However, at all times it should be specific and clear, even as you follow the leading of Jesus.

Finally, you need to process your tentative conclusions with an objective leader in the church, to give you accountability.  They will help challenge you to be as specific as possible.  This is also important to do if you reckon that you can’t think of a clear mission vision right now!  That might be true, but many times we have found that people end up thinking that due to self-imposed rules or boundaries (“Is that allowed?”) that are not from Jesus!

REFLECT:

  • As you look around, who are you called to love in a special way?
  • Who and where are your People of Peace?
  • Is there an obvious ‘open doorway’ of opportunity for the Kingdom to advance?
  • Who do you currently ‘do life’ with most enthusiastically?
  • What is Jesus saying to you as you pray about this?
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5 Comments leave one →
  1. April 22, 2011 8:27 pm

    check out my blog on what the missional/communal model does for discipleship – http://danwhitejr.blogspot.com/2011/04/great-exposure.html

  2. marilyn permalink
    April 27, 2011 3:17 pm

    When you say a neighborhood, how big or how small should we be looking at?

    • April 27, 2011 3:34 pm

      Marilyn, that’s a fantastic question! I think it doesn’t necessarily matters how big the neighborhood is so much as how many houses you try to focus on as well as how many people are in your Missional Community. For larger neighborhoods it’ll be impossible to really cover all of it, but you can definitely think about a segment of the neighborhood that you are specifically looking to see Kingdom breakthrough in.

      • marilyn permalink
        April 27, 2011 6:23 pm

        Wow! thanks for your quick reply =)
        see… this is what is kind of confusing for us right now: We have a core group of 10 adults and 10 kids as of this moment looking to impact our neighborhood.

        We realize we can’t impact the entire neighborhood which is too big for our small group to have effective actions on so we want to concentrate our ‘mission actions’ on a segment of our neighborhood, and reach out to the people (houses) in this segment.
        Yet as we go to the park and get to know other parents or families and start building relationships with them we want to be involved in their lives as well and serve them as well and involve them as well into what we are doing… but we then find out they aren’t necessarily from the ‘segment’ we are reaching out to.

        So our question kind of is: is our vision too small or too big??? Should we be reaching out to a larger chunk of neighborhood but concretely serve a smaller chunk in order to be effective? Or do we just limit ourselves to this small chunk and disregard in a sense others that we might come in relation with? Do we make it some type of balancing act between both?

        I don’t know if this all makes sense (if I’m clearly expressing my question)?

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