Soma School Session Four: Building Missional Communities

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MISSIONAL COMMUNITIES DEFINED

A Missional Community is a gospel community (FAMILY) that lives out the mission of God together (MISSIONARIES) in a specific area and to a particular people group by demonstrating the gospel in tangible forms (SERVANTS) and declaring the gospel to others – both those who believe it and those who are being exposed to it (LEARNERS).

To Clarify…A Missional Community is NOT primarily:

  • A Small Group
  • A Bible Study
  • A Support Group
  • A Social Activist Group
  • A Weekly Meeting

FORMING A MISSIONAL COMMUNITY

1. Start with shared leadership:

  • Prophetic type – an emphasis on the unchanging truths of God’s character, the gospel message and the mission of the Church
  • Priestly type – an emphasis on the care of the soul and caring for one another
  • Kingly type – an emphasis on the tangible working out of the mission through structures, strategic thinking and hands on activity

Soma School Session 4 Graphic 1

(NOTE: If you do not have a team to share this in the core of a group, you may want to supplement leadership through coaching, mentoring or itinerant leaders)

2. Build a foundation on the Gospel

  • Gospel Power – Saved from Penalty of Sin; Being Saved from Power of Sin; and Will Be Saved from the Presence of Sin
  • Gospel People – New Identity in Christ
  • Gospel Purpose – Making Disciples who Make Disciples
  • Gospel Practices – Live out the Gospel in Everyday Rhythms

3. Live with Gospel intentionality

  • Lead into Prayerful Dependency
  • Make sure the group knows the Story of God
  • Become familiar with each others’ stories
  • Become proficient in the 4 Gs and Practice Gospelling each other’s hearts

4. Have a clearly defined mission

  • Ask God to clarify your mission – Who you are called to make disciples of
  • Identify the difference between reactive mission and proactive mission
  • Begin to pray intentionally for the mission
  • Leaders clearly state the mission and call others to participate in it

5. Begin to adjust the life of the community around the mission

  • Shape the weekly schedule to flow with the cultural schedule
  • Strategically place meetings in order to make space for missional engagement
  • Pay close attention to “seasons” and patterns in the culture of the mission field
  • Join in the rhythm of life of the community bringing gospel distinctiveness to it
  • Develop pathways of engagement in the gospel – Demonstrate and Declare
  • Consider forming a Covenant together around the mission (See Appendix A)

6. Display and declare the Gospel

  • Clarify the Gospel barriers
  • Identify the Gospel “doors” or “pathways”
  • Prepare and train the group to address cultural idols
  • Begin by “showing” good news and be prepared to give an answer for your hope
  • Consider engagement in one of the seven pillars

7. Stay Connected to an Overseer/Coach

  • Coaching for ongoing development of leadership
  • Assessments to identify ongoing training needs
  • Develop strategic plans together
  • Supplement for areas of weakness

8. Plan for Multiplication

  • Regularly sow seeds of multiplication into everything (from the beginning)
  • Identify apprentice leaders (2 Timothy 2:2)
  • Intentionally share leadership of the community (Leadership development is best in community)

9. Birth new Missional Communities

  • Talk openly about the future sending of some to start new Missional Communities
  • As leadership is identified and being equipped release some to start a new community
  • Keep in mind the mix of emotions – celebration (newborn baby) and grieving (children leaving home)

10. Form New Expressions/Equipping Centers

  • Groups will need to come back together for ongoing encouragement, equipping and mutual exhortation
  • The gathering of them together becomes a unique and diverse expression of the Church within a particular context
  • This all leads to the development and appointing of Biblical qualified overseers (elders) and lead servants (deacons) in a new local expression of the church

LEADING A MISSIONAL COMMUNITY

Key Leadership Posture

As a leader of a Missional Community you need to think like a Church Planter with a Core Group

  • Ask yourself, “If this group were to eventually become a core group of a new church plant, what would I do?”
  • Keep in mind that you will need to train and prepare for the ministry of making disciples and the leadership of new Missional Communities
  • Prepare them to be a new expression of the Church some day

Key Role of Missional Community Leaders

Shepherd a Gospel Community

  • Think of yourself as a Pastor over a small church
  • Regularly pray for and consider how to best shepherd those under your care
  • Keep in mind the call to intentionally disciple the people under your care

Key Responsibilities

Oversee the MC Gospelling one another in their Identity in Christ and Gospelling the community through the Rhythms of everyday life

MISSIONARIES

Listen: carefully and submissively listen to God alone and together to gain clarity on the mission He has called you to lead people toward

ACTIONS:

  • Take some extended time to listen, pray and journal
  • Do pray walks or prayer drives to discern what God is saying
  • Pay attention to His calling as demonstrated through personal convictions, passions, ongoing leadings
  • Listen to the “Cry” of your community and the people you’re being sent to

Story-formed: as you gain clarity on the mission God has called you to, begin doing the work to understand the story of that context and how best to bring the gospel to bear within it

ACTIONS:

  • Do a historical study of the neighborhood, city, people groups, etc…
  • Look for things that already exist that demonstrate the story of the culture
  • Identify things that exist that are open doors for the gospel and demonstrations of gospel barriers
  • Overall, look for where the Story of God and the Story of the Culture can intersect

Celebrate: identify and join the celebrations that already exist where God is sending you and look to develop new forms of celebration that bring the gospel to bear in a culturally appropriate way

ACTIONS:

  • Identify celebrations the culture is engaged in that you can participate with and still display the gospel
  • Identify the celebrations that exist that need redemption and look for ways to enter in and redeem them
  • Identify the celebrations that do not exist, ask God if they should and if so, how you should go about developing culturally appropriate forms for celebrating
  • With a team of leaders/workers begin to engage in present celebrations and prayerfully plan out culturally appropriate ones for the community

Bless: determine the most appropriate forms through which the community you’re called to would feel blessed and it would be “Good News”

(Consider one of the Seven Pillars as a starting point: Education, Business, Media/Arts, Health Care, Government, Service Organizations, Disenfranchised )

ACTIONS:

  • Determine what is broken or missing in your community
  • Find out what exists to deal with those things and determine how you could serve
  • If it doesn’t exist, discern with God and in community whether you are supposed to start something and who you should work with to see it started

Eat: begin to identify the “watering holes” in the community God is sending you to and frequent them often

ACTIONS:

  • Determine where the people you’re sent to hang out often to eat and drink
  • Regularly eat/drink there and pay attention (listen to others, ask questions, learn)
  • Become known as people who live out good news (tip well, bring more business, etc…)
  • If a good gathering spot does not exist, prayerfully consider starting one

ReCreate: learn about the work habits of the community and what they do for rest and play

ACTIONS:

  • Get to know the kinds of work people are doing and what connection points you might have with them
  • Discover their weekly/monthly/yearly rhythms of work/rest/play and begin to align with them
  • Consider how you might demonstrate Creation/Rest to your culture so they might see Gospel
  • Look for places or situations where restorative work needs to be done and creatively bring that about
  • Pick up some recreational hobbies that would connect with the mission

Adapting a theology of mission from missiologist Leslie Newbigin, George Hunsberber, develops 3 relationships that must occur between the church, gospel and culture:

Soma School Session 4 Graphic 2

FAMILY

Story-formed: know the life-stories of the people you are on mission with and on mission to so that you know how to shepherd and develop them effectively

ACTIONS:

  • Become familiar with each other’s stories
  • Grow in speaking the truth in love to each other (Gospelling each other’s hearts)
  • Develop Pastoral Care skills within the group
  • Make sure everyone is in a discipleship, nurturing and accountability triad (DNA Group)

Listen: regularly listen to God on others behalf to discern how to care for each other

ACTIONS:

  • Regular times of listening prayer with a journal
  • Develop shepherding plans as you hear from God and listen to one another
  • Direct members toward next steps for spiritual growth & development
  • Create space to listen to God and pray together

Celebrate: regularly gather to celebrate God’s extravagant blessings

ACTIONS:

  • Regularly gather in a local expression for community worship through teaching, singing, sharing, eating
  • Meet weekly as a Missional Community to encourage one another
  • Throw parties and events to demonstrate to the community what abundant life is like (b-days, anniversaries, baby showers, wedding receptions, holidays, etc…)

Bless: love one another through tangible acts such as encouragement, gifts, time spent, acts of kindness, etc…

ACTIONS:

  • Make an inventory of what your community has been given by God and make this know to each other
  • Intentionally and tangibly bless a DNA member every week
  • Intentionally and tangibly bless a Missional Community member weekly
  • Extend blessing to someone not yet IN the family weekly

Eat: break bread together regularly together to remember Christ’s work on our behalf

ACTIONS:

  • Remember our Lord’s death regularly through communion
  • Practice preaching the Gospel to each other through communion
  • Share a meal with your missional community weekly
  • Share another meal with another Christ-follower weekly (DNA, Mentor, or MC member)

ReCreate: take regular times to create, rest and play together as a community.

ACTIONS:

  • Work on projects together
  • Take a vacation together or do a focused retreat together
  • Share hobbies or recreational interests

LEARNERS

Story-formed: know your own story and how God’s story is redeeming and re-storying yours – becoming gospel saturated

ACTIONS:

  • Study and be prepared to teach others the Gospel Story (Power, People, Purpose & Practices)
  • Become aware of the barriers to the gospel in your own life
  • Regularly work through the 4 Gs together (God is Great, Glorious, Good and Gracious)

Listen: regularly listen to God through times of Scripture reading, journaling, solitude, book reading, fasting and prayer

ACTIONS:

  • Take time to work through the contemplative disciplines and journal what God shows you
  • Listen to good gospel teaching/preaching and submit to what the Spirit tells you to do
  • Take spiritual retreats alone or with others when necessary
  • Try activities like Lectio Divina together as a Missional Community

Celebrate: know the gospel well and how it informs and changes all of life so that we are leading gospel celebrations from a gospel foundation

ACTIONS:

  • Grow in knowledge of and purposes for hospitality
  • Learn how to creatively and contextually connect hospitality and the gospel
  • Train others to be hospitable and share responsibility for hospitality
  • Rehearse daily evidences of God’s grace in your life

Bless: embrace the ongoing development of your own life as a means to bless others

ACTIONS:

  • Grow in understanding what gifts you have been given by God and work toward sharing them effectively to build others up
  • Learn the real needs in your community and find ways to bless out of who you are
  • Teach and lead others to understand blessing and live out being a blessing

Eat: learn more about intersection of the Biblical feasts and the gospel

ACTIONS:

  • Study the Biblical feasts and learn to identify and articulate the gospel in all of the feasts
  • Be prepared to proclaim the gospel through meals (appropriately within each context)
  • Be prepared to lead others in remembering our Lord’s death through communion
  • Teach others to know and do these things as well

ReCreate: understand and learn to walk in the rhythms of create and rest/play

ACTIONS:

  • Become aware of Gospel rest throughout Creation, Fall, Redemption and Restoration
  • Become self-aware to what prevents you from resting/playing
  • Discover what patterns you need in order to build this rhythm into your life
  • Help others to walk out this rhythm as well through teaching and equipping

SERVANTS

Story-formed: know the stories of the community so you can embody Good News

ACTIONS:

  • Ask questions of neighbors and community leaders, looking for real and felt needs
  • Discover the hopes the community has and gaps in resources available
  • Pay attention to the stories of your missional community and where the needs in the community intersect with the passions, gifts, talents and experiences of the MC

Listen: regularly ask God to show you the community needs and how you can serve

ACTIONS:

  • Take prayer walks/drives to discern where God is leading you to serve
  • Journal what God tells you during your prayer times
  • Ask God together to show you where and how to serve as a missional community
  • Train your MC to be alert and in prayer listening for God’s direction

Celebrate: regularly provide parties/events that coincide with community needs

ACTIONS:

  • Identify the regular celebrations in your community and serve at them
  • Connect meeting needs to celebration (i.e. A park clean-up day with a BBQ at the end)
  • Volunteer to plan and lead the celebrations

Bless: Identify at least one way/area to tangible express the gospel on a regular basis through serving and stick with it long enough to move beyond tasks to relationships

ACTIONS:

  • As you become aware of the community needs and the MC resources identify a specific area or issue that you will lead the MC to regularly serve in (One of the seven pillars)
  • Make serving in that area a regular focus of your MC
  • As you serve in one area look for bridges into the other areas

Eat: regularly provide or pay for meals for others in your community

ACTIONS:

  • Eat at least one meal a week with someone who doesn’t yet believe the gospel
  • Pay for or provide the meal and tip well to demonstrate the gospel to the servers as well
  • Teach your community about what serving looks like over meals and call them to it

ReCreate: regularly provide opportunities for rest, play and creative restorative work

ACTIONS:

  • Take time off when your community is taking time off and try to rest/play with them
  • Engage in restorative work (i.e. community garden; community meeting; School of Life)
  • Look for opportunities to display and declare what has been done for us that allows us to rest in the Gospel.

Appendix A

Missional Community Covenant Template

(THE NAME OF YOUR MISSIONAL COMMUNITY)

C O V E N A N T

WHO WE ARE

I D E N T I T Y

Missionaries – We live actively as missionaries sent by Jesus to make disciples.

We believe we are sent to:

  • Which PEOPLE group or groups are you focusing in your obedience to Jesus’ commission to MAKE DISCIPLES OF ALL NATIONS
  • What people group will you partner with internationally to support Church Planting elsewhere and how will you partner?

Family – We see it as our obligation to personally care for one another and those we are sent to.

We will:

  • What actions should you engage in so that you are expressing your Gospel identity as Sons of God and brothers and sisters together?
  • How will you insure that each of you is involved in regular accountability (DNA)?
  • How will you commit to the “ONE ANOTHERS” that are key to be God’s Family together?
  • How will you extend the family to those who are still “lost” or “dead” to the Father?

Servants – We eagerly serve our Missional Community and those we are sent to as a demonstration of the Gospel.

We are committed to serve by:

  • What do you believe you are specifically called to do in light of our Servant identity to tangibly demonstrate the gospel to those whom God has sent you to?
  • How might you also demonstrate the gospel to each other?
  • What specific projects or events do you need to accomplish or get involved in to demonstrate the gospel to your community?
  • What does GOOD NEWS look like to the people group you are sent to?

Learners – We take responsibility for our own discipleship and the discipleship of Others

We will devote ourselves to:

  • In what ways do you all need to grow spiritually this year?
  • In what ways will you help your MC become aware of their equipping needs
  • In what areas do you need to be better equipped in so that you will be faithful in making disciples
  • What specifically will you do to insure that the people you are sent to hear the gospel this year?

HOW WE LIVE

R H Y T H M S

Story-formed – We understand, experience and intersect with God’s Story.

We will:

  • Where is your group at in terms of God’s Story? Do they know it?
  • What should you commit to together so that you will be familiar with God’s Story?
  • How will you get to know each other’s stories? The stories of those including in your mission?

Listen – We set aside regular times to listen to God both backward and forward.

We will:

  • How will you commit to listening prayer together?
  • What would it look like for the group and the individuals to see Listening to God as a weekly rhythm?
  • What needs to be in place to help you with this?

Celebrate – We regularly gather together to celebrate God’s extravagant blessing.

We will:

  • What equipping gathering or expression are you committed to and how often?
  • In what ways will you intentionalize celebration together and around what?
  • How will you engage in celebrating with the people group God is sending you to?

Bless – We intentionally bless others through words, gifts or actions.

We will:

  • How will you intentionally share what you have with each other and those in need?
  • How will this get worked out in the context of your mission?
  • How will this affect your giving – financially, physically, emotionally, etc…?
  • What are some tangible ways you believe God has called your MC to bless others?

Eat – We regularly eat meals with others to invite them into the community of God.

We will:

  • How will you celebrate communion together?
  • What meals will you share with each other?
  • How will you invite others to the table with you?
  • Where should you go to engage in “Gospel Eating” regularly?

ReCreate – We take time to rest, play, create and restore beauty in order to reflect God to others.

We will:

  • What regularly rhythms of ReCreating will you commit together to?
  • What needs beautifying in your mission focus?
  • How might you demonstrate God’s creative beauty and restorative intent?

As a follower of Jesus and a child of God I covenant with (THE NAME OF YOUR MISSIONAL COMMUNITY) to live these Gospel Identities and Rhythms in the above manner.

______________________________________________

Name

________________________

Date

______________________________________________

Signature

________________________

Email

Appendix B

Missional Community Covenant Example

THE WEDGE MISSIONAL COMMUNITY

C O V E N A N T

WHO WE ARE

I D E N T I T Y

Missionaries – We live actively as missionaries sent to make disciples.

We believe we are sent to:

  • People in the Wedge Neighborhood
  • Support Church Planting through Theo and Adiel in Romania

Family – We see it as our obligation to personally care for one another and those we are sent to.

We will:

  • Speak the truth in love and submit to one another in this
  • Refrain from gossip or slander and be reconciled when we do
  • Forgive one another
  • Pray for one another
  • Bear with one another
  • Meet together regularly
  • Share what we have so that there are no needy persons among us
  • Hold each other accountable in dna groups

Servants – We eagerly serve our Missional Community, People in the Wedge and Parents and Teachers at Grant as a demonstration of the Gospel.

We are committed to serve by:

  • Cleaning up the Wedge
  • Caring for Children after school
  • Volunteering at Grant Elementary
  • Fixing Nikki’s home
  • Developing a Neighborhood Care and Watch group

Learners – We take responsibility for our own discipleship and the discipleship of People in the Wedge and Parents and Teachers at Grant

We will devote ourselves to:

  • Regularly gathering for equipping with our local expression
  • Working through an assessment to determine equipping needs for those in our MC
  • Developing an equipping plan in light of our assessments
  • Being trained in basic discipleship so that we can train others
  • Sharing the Gospel verbally with The Wedge and Parents and Teachers of Grant
  • Reading through the Bible in 2009

HOW WE LIVE

R H Y T H M S

Story-formed – We understand, experience and intersect with God’s Story.

We will:

  • Learn and communicate the Story of God together
  • Become familiar with each other’s personal stories and the stories of the People in The Wedge

Listen – We set aside regular times to listen to God both backward and forward.

We will:

  • Listen to God together when we gather to discern His will – prayer will be a normal part of our meetings
  • Set aside regularly times to personally to listen to God
  • Listen to God while listening to those in our MC and Mission
  • Have Abe Meysenburg train us in Listening Prayer

Celebrate – We regularly gather together to celebrate God’s extravagant blessing.

We will:

  • Gathering on Sundays with the Downtown Expression and on Thursdays with our MC
  • Celebrate God’s grace by coming together around special events
  • Join in the Neighborhood celebrations in The Wedge and participate at Grant’s Auction
  • Create or Serve at 4 key celebrations annually within our mission

Bless – We intentionally bless others through words, gifts or actions.

We will:

  • Together make an inventory of what we have been given for the sake of blessing others
  • Make our blessings known on The City and to The Wedge so there is accessibility to what we have
  • Grow in our financial giving together by 1% this year (i.e. from 10% to 11%)
  • Transform Nikki’s backyard

Eat – We regularly eat meals with others to invite them into the community of God.

We will:

  • Break bread together weekly in homes to remember Jesus’ Death for us
  • Eat a weekly meal together
  • Have one open meal monthly to invite people in our community into
  • Pick one restaurant in The North Slope to eat at regularly (Minimally 2 times a month)

ReCreate – We take time to rest, play, create and restore beauty in order to reflect God to others.

We will:

  • Work with the city to remodel “Triangle Park”
  • Take a vacation together by the end of Summer 09
  • Start a gardener’s club for The Wedge
  • As a follower of Jesus and a child of God I covenant with the Wedge MC to live these Gospel Identities and Rhythms in the above manner.

______________________________________________

 Name

________________________

Date

______________________________________________

Signature

________________________

Email

 

Appendix C

Missional Readiness Indicator

Church Planter’s MRI (Missional Readiness Indicator)

1. Do you know the story of the particular community or culture that you are called to?

2. If you know the story, what are the barriers to the gospel?

List 3 Barriers to the Gospel:

1)

2)

3)

3. What is the message and medium of the gospel for your community? Through what tangible forms would you demonstrate the gospel to your community?

List 3 tangible ways to demonstrate the Gospel in “rhythm”:

1)

2)

3)

4. In your community, do you know the personal life stories of any unbelievers? What are some ways you can get to know the personal stories of unbelievers around you?

5. What are the forms of celebration that unbelievers in your culture engage in?

6. How are you leading (or how could you lead) the believers in your community to either create celebrations that un-believers can engage in or join un-believers in their celebrations?

7. Does your faith community have a clearly identifiable “people group” and mission to whom they are focusing their prayers, activities and resources? If so, who is it? If not, how can you find one?

8. If the answer to #7 is yes, is there a group of believers working together toward that mission on a regular basis? And if so, how?

9. Do the believers that are working on mission together know each other’s life stories? Do you know the stories of the believers you are ministering with? How can you get to know teach other’s stories?

10. How often do the believers gather together to eat meals, celebrate and focus on a mission in their community together? What does this look like?

11. What form of serving do you think would best communicate the gospel to the community you live in?

12. Are you able to clearly articulate the Story of God (the gospel narrative)?

How can you begin to tell The Story of God in a form that makes sense to your culture?

List some ways to start:

13. Are the believers in your community equipped to know the Gospel Narrative (The Story of God) and demonstrate and declare it in culturally appropriate ways in their community? What are some ways you can start NOW to equip them to Tell The Story?

14. Would you say that the unbelievers in your community would grieve the loss of your church if your were to “close the doors” and the believers left the community? What would it look like to be the Church in such a way that the city would grieve if you all left?

More Questions for Personal Application…

  • Are you aware of where the gospel could bring healing to your own life story? If so, where in your life story did you begin to believe a false gospel?
  • How does the gospel re-inform your story?
  • Which parts of the gospel narrative do you need to remind yourself of in order to both live out the gospel AND live out the mission of the gospel?