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A prediction on where Missional Communities will be in 50 Years

February 12, 2012

If you’re trying to learn or relearn something, you have to construct a context in which that learning can take place, yeah?

Here’s an example to this point: Just imagine for a moment everyone in the world forgot how to drive a car. And they had these hunks of metal on wheels in there driveways and don’t know what to do with them. One day you hear, “There was a time when they used to drive them, sit in them, and go places.”

“No way!”

“Yeah! That circular thing is a wheel and you can turn it and it directs where that heavy thing would go. (By the way, it’s called a car).”

“Really? Because we’ve been using it for kids to climb on and we’ve put planters in the headlights. You mean it’s not to be used for lawn ornaments?”

So imagine that world. Your friend has told you this. You do a little digging and after a while you find this book and it talks about how to drive a car. What do you do? You don’t just get on the road and take it out for a spin. You have no idea what you’re doing. You have no idea how people react, or for that matter, how many people you might kill in that metal death trap. What you do is get it on a racetrack where you have space to test out the car without hurting anyone. It provides a space for you to experiment and get your bearings when driving this new vehicle.

We’ve lost the extended family and we’ve lost the oikos on mission. (Oikos being the Greek word used in the New Testament for “households” that refers to the extended families existing as households on mission for the first 300 years of the life of the church).

What we are doing with Missional Communities (20-50 people acting as an extended family on mission together) is constructing an oikos that helps us understand what the NT church did and how it did it. It’s a cocoon where we learn all of the necessary skills so that we can be an oikos and be a family on mission. Missional Communities aren’t the end goal. They are the vehicle that gets us back to the original thing. MC’s serve as the racetrack where we can get to know this foreign thing before we take it back full force onto the streets, which will take some time.

In 50 years time, people will look back and say, “It’s hilarious, they used to make people get in MC’s because they didn’t know how to do this. Isn’t that amazing!?”

Or to use another analogy…Missional Communities are to oikos what a cocoon is to a butterfly.

(***And just to clarify, because I get this in the comments fairly often, I am not proposing that we abandon worship services where all these MCs come together. I believe these are needed and valuable for sustaining the mission of these extended families. For more on this, read this post by clicking here.)


8 Comments leave one →
  1. February 12, 2012 8:55 pm

    Great imagery here! Just returned from being with the folks at Soma Community in Tacoma. I love their MC description of a family of missionary servants. It is based on family that lives out of their belonging to Father God and each other. It is so encouraging to see evidence of the body of Christ living out life as extended familes of God emerging! Thanks, Mike for your timely forecast!

  2. February 13, 2012 6:03 am

    Question: Does this assume our primary problem is structure, specifically structures that don’t facilitate mission?

    • February 13, 2012 2:58 pm

      I think I’d say that’s some of the problem, though certainly not all of it. I do think that our structures show our ecclesiology and so first we must tend to what we believe the function of the church is and go from there.

  3. Rob Shoaff permalink
    February 14, 2012 3:26 pm

    Love it Mike! MC’s are so practical….and simple. I can’t wait until the Church begins BEING the Church once more (not that there aren’t pockets out there). What a beautiful thing Christ intended it to be! Thanks for your leadership brother!

  4. February 14, 2012 3:33 pm

    Really interesting post. What you are actually saying is that MCs are a tool for church leaders to migrate out of Christendom structures with… but that church planters in greenfield situations (so to speak) would do better to start with something more oikos-like?

    What aspects of MCs do you think will be transitory?

    • February 14, 2012 4:08 pm

      I think even in church planting situations while you may start with oikos, you’ll still need MCs. The cultural memory of church, even for those who didn’t grow up in it, will still require such a vehicle I think.

      As for the transitory question…I just think that in the future we won’t have to work as hard to learn the practices and life of oikos once we re-engage and live into it. Once we are two generations in, it’ll be in our cultural memory and not normative and all the practical teaching we do on how to be an extended family on mission won’t be nearly as exhaustive as it needs to be now.

  5. February 15, 2012 5:18 pm

    Your thread of comments on Missional Church have been insightful and stimulating to read. Keep it up!


  1. missional community – future..

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