My home church, McBIC (Mechanicsburg Brethren in Christ) has been talking about missional communities in the services the past month or so. This week, our Senior Pastor and one of the other pastors on staff posted this video to talk about what missional communities look like at McBIC and share their vision. I know that this idea is popular in Christian circles, so I thought I’d share it here so that my readers could give me their feedback and thoughts, then I can either share with Pastor Layne or Pastor John or point them to this post. I’m especially curious what my friend Rob Martin will think, given that he is the one who I first heard talking about the ideas that are at work here. Thanks!
Personally, I had an obvious connection to the foster care/adoption idea. We have adopted from the foster system, and have not felt a release that we are done with that. Right now, we are not actively engaged in the system, but there is a good chance we will be again at some point. Either way, God has certainly been working on our hearts since the early days of our marriage to impress on us his heart for the orphans at home and abroad. The idea of being part of a community within McBIC that could support foster care and adoption is pretty exciting to me!
Hrm… Ya know, what I’m hearing in this video is a common thing… throwing the word “missional” around a church ministry, group, etc. While I have no problems with such ministries, “missional” goes beyond the concept of another program, another formalized group, another program/ministry in a church. What I’m hearing is simply more ministry groups, programs, etc. Now, they are groups that are intended to reach out to the communities around them, but what I’ve been learning in my reading is that “missional” is more geared to being a missionary where you are already in the areas of life that you are already involved and in the programs, events, and ministries already present in your neighborhoods.
The idea behind it is this: Consider what missionaries do when they go into other countries. MOST of the time, a missionary does not go to that other country to start a church, start another “program”, etc. Missionaries go into those countries to enter into the communities that are ALREADY THERE and bring Christian love, the Kingdom way, and other such things into the existing culture.
So, to be “missional” here in the USA, is to act like missionaries here. Every Christian lives in a community already and God’s Kingdom can be brought to bear in those situations. The idea is to be “incarnational”, to bring the presence of God to bear wherever Christians are. In a “missional” model of church, the church is like the home base, the training grounds, the headquarters for the missionary work but the missionaries themselves are doctors, construction workers, neighbors, etc., within the community.
I’d highly recommend reading some Lesslie Newbigin as he is one of the foremost thinkers on “missional” church. Check out “The Gospel in a Pluralist Society” at http://www.amazon.com/Gospel-Pluralist-Society-Lesslie-Newbigin/dp/0802804268/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1317502467&sr=1-1
I think the attitude I’ve perceived is more of: “let us know what you are doing in your community, what are you called to and passionate for? We want to equip you to do that.” It is not about a ministry within the church, another program, or another top down ministry. There are a group of folks in our church who are recovering addicts. They want to start a ministry based on Christ to help other addicts recover and connect with Christ. McBIC wants to help them get that off the ground. Others in a small group felt a call to start working to end human trafficking and the sex trade. As they’ve formed on their own, the church is looking to ask how they can help and facilitate. The attitude seems to be the heart of what I understand missional communities to be. Perhaps missional churches is different? To me, this sounds like an attempt to empower people to make a difference outside the walls of the church, and in their communities. Helping every member to see themselves as a missionary with a calling where they are living, working, and serving. I’ll have to think more about where the difference is between this and what you are envisioning.
I agree with equipping, that is definitely a part of the concept of being “missional”. That’s what the church is to do: equip, train, support. But rather than creating another support group, “missional” means to bring the presence into you every day, normal, interactions. I hear McBic creating groups… and that’s fine… nothing wrong with that. But in an increasing pluralist society with all sorts of programs for recovering addicts and such, is another needed? Or is it a matter of equipping and training people to meet God’s Kingdom in the already existing programs in the communities? Same with the sex trafficking, or the foster programs, etc. Is ANOTHER group needed? Or since Christianity is supposed to be a way of life anyways, wouldn’t a “missional” ministry be to equip and train people to be missionaries in what they are doing every day.
Another book to read is Colossians Remixed… an INTEREST re-commentary on the book of Colossians. Toss those books on the top of your stack as you start to think about “missional” church and “missional” community living.