Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Sully Notes 11 | Leading Missional Communities: Rediscovering the Power of Living on Mission Together Part 1 of 3

Emmaus City Church Worcester MA Soma Acts 29 Christian Reformed Missional Community Network Leadership Sully Notes 11 Part 1

Sully Notes 11: Books in 25 minutes or less

Sully Notes are meant to provide you with direct quotes from some books I've read in the last year, so you can get a taste of the overall theme of the book and then begin to chew on what your life might look like if you applied what you read. 

Here are links to the previous Sully Notes books:

3DM Missional Community Trilogy Sully Notes

Emmaus City Church Family of Missionary Servants Soma Acts 29 Christian Reformed Worcester MA Church Plant Leading Missional Communities Part 1This week's Notes involve the second book in a string of 3 Sully Notes all connected with 3DM and Missional Communities (MCs):

We're going to begin with Part 1 of Leading Missional Communities: Rediscovering the Power of Living on Mission Together. In following God's leading for Emmaus City to be a network of missional communities, this book not only provides more of the foundations as to why we feel God is leading us this way based on who He is, what He has done for us through Jesus, who He has made us to be, and how He is making us more like Jesus; it also begins to share practical ways of following Jesus as His church in today's 21st century world.

Leading Missional Communities | Sully Notes 11: Part 1 of 3

A Brief Note About This Book Before Reading

  • Missional Community Leader: Someone who mobilizes God's people to join his redemptive work in the world 
  • Missional Community: A group of 15-40 people forming an extended family on mission together
  • Oikos: The Greek word for "household," which refers to the 20-70 people, blood and non-blood, who made up the Greco-Roman household
  • Character and Competency: Being like Jesus (character – the interior world of a person) and doing the things Jesus could do (competency – the external world of a person)
  • Disciple: A person who learns to be like Jesus and learns to do what Jesus could do; discipleship is the process of becoming who Jesus would be if he were you (Dallas Willard)

  • UP / IN / OUT

    • UP: deep and connected relationship to the Father and attentiveness to the leading of the Holy Spirit
    • IN: constant investment in the relationships of those around you 
    • OUT: entering into the brokenness of the world, looking for a response individually (people coming into a relationship with Jesus) and systematically (systems of injustice being transformed)

  • Kingdom Movement: a community of disciples who passionately seek the expansion of God's reign here on earth through the reproduction of disciples, seeking the transformation of whatever places they inhabit

Foreword | Hugh Halter Writes:

“We wanted to wake up every morning with the expectation that God had plans for us and that those plans would change the course of history for our friends. It happened! Homes filled up, friends found faith in Jesus, and we began to see and feel the presence of God changing us to the core. Adullam (in Denver, CO) is now a congregational network of missional communities and the several hundred people who belong to it would say, 'We can't go back.' But, we also failed a lot. Whereas the size of our movement is credible, it's not nearly what it could have been if we had had a little help along the way; a little coaching, or a mentor-guide who had previously traversed the landscape we were trailblazing. When I read this book, my first thought was, 'Shucks, this could have saved us a lot of misery.' Mike Breen and the entire 3DM team have emerged as expert coaches and practitioners to anyone who is sniffing the flower of missional community, true spiritual formation, and kingdom practices.” – pg. v

Part 1 | Foundations for MCs: Chapter 1 | Understanding MCs and Oikos

... those of us who follow Christ have the remarkable opportunity to literally rebuild society by re-forming 'extended family' oikos communities centered not on blood or ancestry, but on Jesus. Our commission is to compassionately reach out to those around us, invite them to join us in community, share the story of the gospel, make disciples, and gather them into families to follow Jesus together. ... It is rediscovering the church as oikos, an extended family on mission where everyone contributes and everyone is supported.– pg. 5

"We believe oikos is something the Spirit of God is doing in this time to restore the church's ability to function fruitfully in discipleship and mission the way the early church did, publicly living out our faith in the various neighborhoods and relational networks of our cities." – pg. 5

"The goal is not to run a program called 'Missional Community.' The goal is to learn how to function as an extended family on mission. ... A quote widely attributed to Margaret Mead captures the idea well: 'Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed (people) can change the world. Indeed it's the only thing that ever has." – pg. 6

"A Missional Community is a group of approximately 15 to 40 people who are seeking to reach a particular neighborhood or network of relationships with the good news of Jesus. The group functions as a flexible, local expression of the church and has the expressed intention of seeing those they are in relationship with become followers of Jesus with them. They exist to see God's Kingdom come to their friends and neighbors. The result is usually the growth of the MC (as people become followers of Jesus and join them) and then the multiplication of new MCs (as people are trained to lead within the MC and then are sent out to start new MCs). They are networked within a larger church community, allowing for a 'scattered' and 'gathered' expression of church." – pg. 7
"These lightweight, low-maintenance, mid-sized communities, led by lay people, typically have three to four 'official' meetings per month in their missional context. (This means that when they meet, where they meet, with whom they meet, and what they do when they meet are highly contextualized, determined by the vision and missional context of the MC.) Because they hold a strong value of 'doing life' together, the people in the MC often meet with one another outside the 'official' gatherings in more informal settings during the week. In structured and spontaneous ways, each MC attends to the three dimensions of life that Jesus himself attended to: time with God through worship, prayer, Scripture, teaching, giving thanks, etc. (what we call UP); time with the body of believers, building a vibrant and caring community (what we call IN); and time with those who don't know Jesus yet (what we call OUT)." – pg. 7

5 Characteristics of MCs 

1) 15 - 40 People: MCs are small enough to care because a group of 15-40 feels like an extended family where everyone can be known and loved and contribute meaningfully to the community. ... The small size also creates a more comfortable environment for a new person coming into the community, because 15-40 people create a 'house party' dynamic that provides a semi-anonymous space in the community for people to hang out on the margins and observe before they move in closer for more in-depth participation. ... MCs are big enough to dare because a group of 15-40 people has enough human resource to substantively impact their chosen mission context, whether it's a neighborhood or a network of relationships.
2) Clear Mission Vision: It is vital that an MC gathers around a vision for mission from the beginning. ... Missional vision means you have a desire and passion to share the good news of Jesus with a specific group of people through your words and your actions. Clearly seeing and articulating this vision is the magnet that draws people to the community and the engine that keeps the community moving. Missional vision is focused on sharing the good news of Jesus and making disciples among the people of a specific neighborhood or network of relationships. A neighborhood-focused MC centers on serving and bringing the good news of Jesus to the people who live or work in a particular geographic area (e.g. a housing subdivision or a few blocks of streets). A network-focused MC seeks to serve and bring the good news of Jesus to the people within a particular network of relationships (e.g., a sports club, creative professionals, a hobby group, a business community, students, a subculture in the city, etc.). Giving your MC a specific name, perhaps related to its vision, often helps to keep the vision forefront in people's minds, and establishes a sense of identity and belonging within the MC. ... an MC doesn't just swoop in and do a few activities for a group and then leave. The MC emphasizes living among and working with the people or place they are seeking to impact. This "incarnational principle" helps prevent MCs from becoming a series of service projects performed by people who are disconnected relationally from those they are serving.
3) Lightweight / Low-Maintenance: ... they are inexpensive to run, not too time-consuming to plan, and not bound by building or maintenance costs. Leading an MC shouldn't be a heavy burden on a leader. People with normal "9-5 jobs" should be able to lead them. For example, MC gatherings shouldn't attempt to replicate a church worship service, because those take a lot of time and hard work to plan and maintain! Instead, look to implement regular, sustainable rhythms that allow people to connect as family. ... Remember this is about building an extended family on mission together, so let the idea of "family rhythms" guide your thinking. Have everyone bring food to share for meals together. Maybe have some people come over early to help clean up the house before the others arrive. Have everyone stick around afterward to do the dishes and help clean up like a family would! It's about learning to live a missional lifestyle together, not attending a series of missional events.
4) An Accountable Leader: MCs are led by leaders with vision, but those leaders are accountable to and supported by the leadership of the wider church. ... They continue to be part of a larger whole, orbiting a central church, where they receive training and support. This creates a low-control, high-accountability dynamic that is vital to MC health. Low control means that the vision for the MC comes from the leader of the MC, not the central church leadership. High accountability means that the central church leadership is very involved in helping the MC leader carry out the vision God has given him or her. The MCs become places of on-the-ground mission for the people of God, dispersed among the neighborhoods and networks of a city, but still orbiting a central church, which becomes a place of training, equipping, prayer, resourcing, and encouragements for the MCs. 
5) UP / IN / OUT Rhythm: MCs center their rhythms on ... community life centered on the Great Commandment and the Great Commission:
  • "Love the Lord your God will all your heart, mind, soul and strength" (UP).
  • "Love your neighbor as yourself" (IN).
  • "Go and make disciples of all people groups" (OUT). 

Emmaus City Church Worcester MA Missional Community Discipleship Soma Acts 29 Christian Reformed

"The most vigorous forms of community are those that come together in the context of a shared ordeal or communities who define themselves as a group with a mission that lies beyond themselves – thus initiating a risky journey. Over-concern with safety and security, combined with comfort and convenience, have lulled us out of our true calling and purpose." – Alan Hirsch and Michael Frost, The Forgotten Ways

Chapter 2 | Communities of Discipleship

"One MC leader recalls: 'Our MC was reaching out to the homeless who gathered at a certain park on Saturday mornings. Originally, we were bringing sack lunches and survival kits. Part of the MC was getting these hand-outs together each week, and another part was going down on Saturday mornings to hand them out. However, our city actually has some wonderful social services for the homeless. You can always get a bed, shower and food. What we noticed, though, was that they didn't have any friends; no one would actually talk to them. So we changed everything. We made it much more simple and relational. When we visited them on Saturday mornings, we'd wait for others who were there to give them hand-outs, and then we'd set up tables and play checkers and chess and have coffee. As we got to know them, we'd pray with them, ask for ways we could serve them, share what God had been saying to us, and ask them to share what God might have been sharing with them. It was amazing to see what God was able to do when we switched from seeing our MC as a series of events or service projects to a family where we were trying to create a certain kind of culture.– pgs. 13-14

" ... you'll need to build a discipling culture at the heart of your MC if it is going to be fruitful long-term. At the core of every effective MC is a culture of discipleship. ... A discipling culture simply means that making disciples of Jesus is what is always happening in your MC. The Great Commission is to make disciples. Jesus says that he will build his church, and our task is to make disciples. Sometimes we get this backward and think that if we can figure out how to build the church, then the end result will be disciples. But it actually works the other way around: We make disciples, and Jesus builds his church. Thus, the culture and mindset we want to build in our MCs is a discipling culture, where people understand clearly that we are called to both be and make disciples of Jesus.– pgs. 14-15

" ... within an MC, we are learning to trust and follow Jesus in every area of our lives, growing to become more and more like him in our character (who we are) and competency (what we can do). As we do this, we invite others to share this life of discipleship with us, growing in expectation that God's Kingdom will break into every area of our lives. We cultivate an identity as a 'sent' people, missionaries to whatever sphere of influence or context we find ourselves in. As we truly make disciples (people who are becoming like Jesus was and doing the things he did), evangelism becomes a kind of overflow of our life of discipleship, rather than a program or event. Instead of feeling forced or contrived, evangelism will feel natural as people are drawn in by the fruit they see in our community." – pg. 15
"A discipling culture is about encouraging and cultivating the development of a missional lifestyle (faith at the center of everything we do) rather than missional events (faith at the center of events we organize)." – pg. 15

" ... every disciple of Jesus should eventually be capable of making more disciples of Jesus. Part of being a disciple is making disciples. So Paul wrote to his disciple Timothy, 'the things you have heard me say in the presence of many witnesses entrust to reliable people who will also be qualified to teach others.' That's four generations of disciples in one sentence! Paul (first generation) investing in Timothy (second generation), who invests in 'reliable people' (third generation) who are to invest in 'others' (fourth generation). Discipleship is simply being with Jesus to learn from Jesus how to be like Jesus (Dallas Willard). ... we invite others to imitate us as we imitate Christ. ... A strong discipling culture leads naturally to the development of an abundant supply of new leaders, who, because they are living like Jesus and listening to the Spirit, will make more disciples and plant new MCs that contain the same culture of discipleship you have established. The discipling culture and missional leaders are developing functions 'below the surface' as the foundation for effective and fruitful missional communities the help inspire kingdom movement." – pg. 17

Emmaus City Church Worcester MA Missional Community Church Plant Soma Acts 29 Christian Reformed
"To grow a culture of discipleship, we need to be together a lot, participating in common rhythms of discipleship centered on deepening our relationship with God (UP), our relationship with one another (IN), and our relationship with our mission context (OUT). We can't develop a culture of discipleship unless we actually get together often as an extended family." – pg. 19

"The leader of an MC needs to be a disciple-maker, not merely an event-organizer. Part of your responsibility as an MC leader is to look for and invest in potential leaders, considering things like godly character, skills, and whether the person already influences others positively. You sow the seeds of multiplication by discipling and training these people as leaders. Invite potential leaders into a more intentional discipling relationship within the MC (giving them greater access to your life and training them), and begin having them function on a leadership team within the MC, giving them growing responsibility and visibility as leaders in the MC." – pgs. 19-20

" ... the point of MCs isn't simply to create a space for people to experience community; we are called to participate in the advance of the Kingdom of God by making disciples who become leaders and multiply to make more disciples." – pg. 20   

Chapter 3 | Communities of Good News

"The family on mission an MC is meant to produce is all about the good news of Jesus. MCs exist to draw people into new life in Christ. It's about making disciples of Jesus and seeing them transformed in community as they follow him. ... If MCs are going to be 'good news communities' and proclaim the gospel effectively, we need to have a fuller, more robust picture of what the gospel actually is."pg. 21

"The Church exists for nothing else but to draw men into Christ, to make them little Christs. If they are not doing that, all the cathedrals, clergy, missions, sermons, even the Bible itself, are simply a waste of time. God became Man for no other purpose.– C.S. Lewis pg. 21

"Scripture is rooted in the two over-arching themes of Covenant and Kingdom. Right at the beginning of Genesis and all the way through to Revelation, we are called into a relationship with God (Covenant) and the responsibility of representing him to others (Kingdom). In Genesis, Adam and Eve walk with God in the cool of the evening (Covenant), and are commissioned to multiply, thus filling and stewarding the earth (Kingdom). When we look at the life of Jesus, we see him build a discipling culture by bringing to those who followed him an invitation to a Covenant relationship and a challenge to join God in the mission of the Kingdom. As people engaged in this amazing relationship with Jesus and the adventure of the Kingdom mission, the natural outcome was that the disciples became a dynamic community on mission, their adventures chronicled mainly in the book of Acts." pgs. 22-23

" ... the fuller, more robust definition of the gospel we embrace also plays out along the lines of Covenant and Kingdom, as the gospel focuses on the good news of Christ's substitution on our behalf, how he took on the wrath we deserved (Covenant), and his victory over the powers of darkness, defeating the enemy who held us in bondage (Kingdom). ... take a look at Paul's articulation of the gospel in Colossians 2:13-15. It seamlessly weaves in substitution and victory, like the threads of a tapestry, or two sides of the same coin: When you were dead in your sins and in the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made you alive with Christ. He forgave us all our sins, having canceled the charge of our legal indebtedness, which stood against us and condemned us; he has taken it away, nailing it to the cross. And having disarmed the powers and authorities, he made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them by the cross." pg. 23

The Good News of Christ's Victory: Paul articulates victory when he says that Christ has "disarmed the powers and authorities" and 'made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them by the cross." ... For the first thousand years or so of church history, this was the dominant understanding of what was accomplished on the cross. They called this theme Christus Victor (meaning "Christ is victorious!"). When people thought about the gospel, what came to mind first was God's victory over the forces of evil through the cross of Christ. This means that one facet of the good news for people today is that through the death and resurrection of Christ, God has won the victory over everything that holds them in bondage. There is freedom in Christ! Because of the same Spirit that raised Christ from the dead lives in us, we represent Jesus, the victorious King. ... This is part of the gospel we proclaim to those we are seeking to reach in our MCs: Christ is victorious over evil! All of the healing, redemption, and victory that we will one day see in totality and completeness in heaven is already coming to earth right now. Today. The world begins to look different because the victory of his Kingdom is coming and his will is beginning to be done in our communities just as it is in heaven. The challenge to us as God's people is to make sure that our lives are manifesting the freedom we proclaim, making sure the message of our lives matches the message of our words." pg. 25

The Good News of Christ's Substitution: Paul articulates another facet of the gospel in this passage, that of substitution. He says that while we were dead in our sins, God forgave our sins and made us alive with Christ. "He forgave all our sins, having canceled the charge of our legal indebtedness, which stood against us and condemned us; he has taken it away, nailing it to the cross." ... The sin we've committed had created a wall of separation between us and our heavenly Father, who is also the judge. We were created to be connected to him in Covenantal relationship, but it had been severed through sin, and there's nothing we can do to repair the damage and cross the chasm. The consequences must be given, but the judge allows a substitute to receive the penalty of our sins and transgressions, and grants us mercy and forgiveness. Suddenly, all that separated us has been removed, and once again, we can function in Covenantal relationship with our Father and His family. This is the substitution aspect of the gospel of Jesus: that our sins can be forgiven, and we can come back into a life-giving covenantal relationship with our Father in heaven through the death and resurrection of Jesus. There is forgiveness in Christ! You don't need to pay God back; He simply forgives you and welcomes you back with open arms as a member of His family. This is truly good news for those struggling with alienation from God and others through sin." pgs. 25-26

"The full-orbed, biblical gospel, then, incorporates substitution and victory, forgiveness of sins and freedom from bondage. The problem is that we usually emphasize one at the expense of the other, and thus we end up with a 'miniature' gospel that can't do everything it's supposed to do. We need to learn to express the gospel in its Covenantal aspect of substitution and its Kingdom aspect of victory."pg. 26 

Substitution only:
  • All heaven
  • Eternity to exclusion of here and now
  • Not yet
  • All individual

Victory only:

  • All earth
  • Social gospel
  • Now to exclusion of eternity
  • All communal

Substitution and Victory:
  • Earth and heaven
  • Now and eternity focused
  • Now and not yet experience of kingdom
  • Individual and communal

                              Covenant              and             Kingdom
                               Relationship            and           Responsibility
                                 Invitation               and              Challenge
                                Community            and                Mission
                              Substitution             and                Victory
                               Forgiveness            and                Freedom

"What does it mean for a family on mission to have substitution and victory at the heart of what they are doing? To believe and live our forgiveness and freedom? As an example, if there is conflict in our community, we don't try to sweep it under the rug or try to avoid it. No, we engage in it biblically (Matthew 18:15-25), seek to bring reconciliation and forgiveness for everyone involved because this is what God has done for us in Christ. This is expressing an implication of the gospel of substitution, the good news that we can be brought back into relationship with God and one another through forgiveness. Likewise, if people in our community are sick, we don't just shrug and hope they get better soon. No, we rally around them as a family with healing prayer, seeking God's victory over sickness for them. Why? Because Jesus defeated sickness on the cross, and we want the completeness of heaven to visit earth today (just as Jesus taught us to pray)." pg. 27

"As we live out and incarnate the gospel, we also need to be ready to 'give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope you have' (1 Peter 3:15). We need to be ready to tell someone the good news when the opportunity arises, with gentleness and respect, of course, but also with clarity and boldness. But there's a challenge for us here: When was the last time someone asked to give the reason for the hope (or faith or love) you have? It's easy to become consumed by coming up with answers to questions that nobody is asking, rather than focusing on living authentically faithful lives in close enough proximity to people who might actually ask us some questions about the hope we have!"
pg. 27
"What would it look like to express the gospel to those you are reaching out to through the lens of substitution? Through the lens of victory? We need to be ready to do both, depending on the situation at hand, because people who don't know Jesus yet are going to be drawn more to one or the other. People's 'front door' into salvation will usually be either the good news of substitution or the good news of victory, and in the process of discipleship they will come to embrace both. ... a 'Covenant' gospel is one of belonging and family that people are hungry for ... a 'Kingdom' gospel is the good news that we can find meaning and purpose in giving ourselves over to something bigger than ourselves." pgs. 27, 29
"The gospel we proclaim is that anyone can receive a new life with God (Covenant) and learn to represent Him to others (Kingdom). You can be part of God's family and have a role in the family's mission. How do we say yes to that invitation? We become disciples of Jesus. MCs are simply families on mission who are following Jesus together, telling others 'all about this new life' (Acts 5:20), and inviting others to follow Jesus with them. At the end of the day, MCs are gospel communities, where the good news of Jesus is embodied and proclaimed. They are Jesus communities, where people are trained to follow Jesus together, becoming the body of Christ, expressing the ministry of Jesus to those around them. Evangelism is simply inviting people to join us as we do this." pgs. 29-30 

Next post: Leading Missional Communities: Rediscovering the Power of Living on Mission Together Part 2 of 3 

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