Friday, June 13, 2014

Sully Notes 12 | Launching Missional Communities: A Field Guide Part 1 of 3

Emmaus City Church Worcester MA Soma Acts 29 Christian Reformed Missional Community Network Stories Sully Notes 12 Part 1

Sully Notes 12: 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 Launching Missional Communities Stories Part 1This week's Notes involve the third and final book in a trilogy of Sully Notes all connected with 3DM and Missional Communities (MCs):

Part 1 of Launching Missional Communities: A Field Guide and the following parts will include repetition of the biblical theology that was featured in Family on Mission and Leading Missional Communities. But these Sully Notes in particular will feature more stories and examples as the book is full of them. There are so many exciting and fascinating ways God continues to reveal His grace to people across the world from dramatically different backgrounds. In following God's leading for Emmaus City to be a network of missional communities, this book is a great encouragement to how being faithful in obeying His Great Commandment and Great Commission of making disciples can and does bring forth fruit inside the church as well as to those God has sent us to.

Launching Missional Communities | Sully Notes 12: Part 1 of 3

1.1 | Introduction

"I had the opportunity to visit Sheffield, England, where the movement of Missional Communities began in the mid-1990s. St. Thomas' Church in Sheffield multiplied into two distinct churches a few years ago. ... The highlight of the trip was probably the missional tour we took on the Thursday of that week. About forty of us hopped on a charter bus and spent three hours driving around the city of Sheffield. Every minute or two, they'd point to where a Missional Community was meeting and what they were doing:

  • 'This MC is reaching into the Slovakian gypsy population. Dozens of people have come to know Jesus.'
  • 'This MC started reaching out to Somalian refugees, and they have multiplied into three MCs.' 
  • 'This is where a lot of the university students go clubbing, so this MC meets at 3 a.m. on Saturday mornings. Hundreds of people have come to know Jesus.' 
  • 'This MC focuses on this wealthier neighborhood to your left.'
  • 'This MC has hooked up with one of the most dangerous gangs in Sheffield. The leader went to prison for murder, and we worked with him and he became a Christian, and then his family became Christians, and slowly the people in the gang are becoming Christians.'
  • 'This MC meets in the state park every Saturday morning and reaches out to people who love the park and the outdoors.'
  • 'This MC reaches out to parents with babies.'
  • 'This MC has seen a lot of Iranian Muslims come to know Jesus.'
  • 'This MC reaches out to teenagers and their parents.'

These two churches had every race, color, age, religious upbringing, and socio-economic status you can possibly imagine. St. Thomas Crookes is, by all accounts, the fastest-growing church in Europe, seeing more than 500% growth in less than five years. St. Thomas Philadelphia is now one of the largest churches in Europe. In partnership with the European Church Planting Network, this way of doing church has been streamlined and has contributed to the planting of 725 churches in just over three years. And we aren't talking about two guys in a bar and calling it church. These are the real deal. This has never been done before in European church history. In a city where less than 3% of the people were in a church on a Sunday morning, a movement is afoot that is calling a city back to God and is spreading across the region and continent and into the United States."
– pgs. 13-14

1.6 | How to Use this Field Guide

" ... ultimately, every church that has started to use MCs and seen success has been in community with other churches doing the same thing. Other than seeking the guidance of the Holy Spirit, the number one thing we could recommend is taking this journey with other churches. ... find a few other churches and be in community with them and take this journey together." – pg. 21

2.1 | Defining Missional

"Simply put, mission is God's activity of love toward the world. He is a sending God, a going God, a God who incarnates himself in a specific time and context, so that every person may come to know and love him. To be a follower of Jesus means that you, too, are called to be a missionary. Each and every follower has this calling. As has been quipped, God had only one Son, and he was a missionary. If that was what Jesus did, then we his followers are to do likewise. Going in mission is not an optional extra – an upgrade for the 'mature disciple.' Going in mission is fundamental to the journey of discipleship and from day one we should view ourselves as missionaries. In the New Testament, we see a continual train of totally ill-prepared followers of Christ being sent out in mission. Jesus starts sending the disciples out as early as Matthew 10, at a stage when they hadn't even declared Jesus as Messiah, let alone Lord, and their response to his teaching was primarily marked by misunderstanding and shallow selfishness. ... Reggie McNeal puts it like this: 'We must change our ideas of what it means to develop a disciple, shifting the emphasis from studying Jesus and all things spiritual in an environment protected from the world to following Jesus into the world to join him in his redemptive mission.'" – pg. 24

"'Our mission has no life of its own: only in the hands of the sending God can it truly be called mission. Not least since the missionary initiative comes from God alone ... mission is thereby seen as a movement from God to the world; the church is viewed as an instrument for that mission. There is church because there is mission, not vice versa. To participate in mission is to participate in the movement of God's love toward people, since God is a fountain of sending love.' ... In each of the four Gospels, Jesus makes it clear that his disciples are to go to the lost and that we are to make that the center of how we think, love, and live (Matthew 28:19-20; Mark 16:15-16; Luke 24:46-48; John 15:26-27). Reading Acts, we see that missional driver highlighted repeatedly (Acts 1:8; 13:2; 14:1, 21; 16:9, 13, 32, etc.). Paul, for instance, clearly saw reaching out in mission as the primary filter for all his decisions and actions (e.g., Philippians 3:12-14). As has been humorously put, when we become Christians, there are two things we can do on earth that we won't be able to do in heaven: sin and witness. The question for us is to decide which one we think Jesus left us here to do. ... 'The church exists to go into the cultures and nations of the earth and live sacrificially for the good of others.' Mission is all about going. It is following the Lord of the Harvest into the fields, becoming the answer to his (and our own) prayers. 'Send more workers into the fields' (Matthew 9:37-38)." – pgs. 25-26 

" ...  we see Jesus entering the brokenness of the world and asking for a response (OUT) in two distinct ways:

    • He wants people who don't know him yet to come to know him (to experience the healing and restoration of that relationship), and
    • He also wants to see systems of injustice brought to an end. As NT Wright says, Jesus came 'to put the world to rights.' 

There is witness. There is service. Very often, the best way to engage with a community is to be living out the presence and values of the Kingdom. We identify where there is a need that we can meet and do so. This builds our credibility with those we are reaching and allows the Holy Spirit to soften our hearts as we humble ourselves in that way. It has been said that people don't care how much we know until they know how much we care, so finding ways to serve is the Kingdom way to reach that breakthrough point. Our service does not have to be an amazing venture that the grateful locals are still going to be talking about decades later. But as we go with a servant's heart, the Lord will bring people and opportunities across our paths in order to train and direct us. Our eyes will be opened to see a more strategic and longer-term pattern of service in that context. As we follow that guidance, this will then build momentum, bear fruit, and genuinely begin to change that mission context in tangible ways.
" – pg. 27

 "We naturally show what it means to be a follower of Jesus, not in a forced artificial way but rather as life takes its course. In doing so, we begin to disciple the lost and show them practically the difference that knowing Christ makes. This leads to openness to spiritual things, since we are sharing our authentic lives rather than trying to sell something. We (Alex and my wife, Hannah) have shared so much 'real life' with our neighbors that we now gather a group of families monthly and are discipling them in the things of God – including some surprisingly in-depth Bible study. Our neighbors are totally appreciative because it feels authentic and real to who we are, while they feel loved and valued by us for who they are. Being naturally supernatural means being sensitive to what God is doing in someone's life, rather than forcing our agenda on that person. YWAM's Laurence Singlehurst writes of the difference between sowing and reaping, noting that the latter usually occurs only after many have invested in the former. He argues that moving someone from a -7 to a -6 in his or her view of God is no less imporant than when someone goes from -1 to 0 and accepts Christ as Savior. Missional Communities create an amazing context for ongoing sowing strategies." – pg. 28

" ... (we're) changing our message from 'come to us and look like us' to 'we're coming to you and showing you Christ where you are.' ... this is clearly driven by a genuine desire to reach the lost, by planting authentic Christian communities in contexts where there is no effective indigenous witness for Christ. These groups are led by humble, godly, and accountable men and women, who are seeing many won for Christ and neighborhoods affected for the Kingdom." – pg. 28

2.2 | Defining Community

"God has hard-wired a truth deep within us; it is not good for us to be alone (Genesis 2:18). We are designed not only to live in community but also to be at our most fruitful there. It should come as no great surprise to discover that we will usually be most effective missionally when we go with others. Put simply, we go as a community, inviting people into community. The balance to the zeal of the missionary endeavor, with its inevitable lows and disappointments, is that we come from a place of belonging, of encouragement, and of accountability. Our default mode as Western Christians can be to see mission as a solo activity ('me and my witness in my workplace/neighborhood/golf club'). But the under-girding of the Bible is covenant relationships, when 'two become one.' While we do have a personal witness, the evidence of the New Testament is that everything happened in teams. Jesus sent his disciples out in teams – he even sent two disciples to fetch a donkey (Luke 19:29-30). The Acts of the Apostles show teamwork within almost every missionary venture, while we only have to read the greetings in the letters to see how highly Paul valued his team members. In the Old Testament, there was a tremendously strong belief in covenant community. This began with Israel's relations with God and then extended to each person in the community. The understanding of God's calling was rarely individual and primarily seen as for the whole people group. The people of Israel were chosen and set apart together to be a blessing to all nations, starting with Abraham's call in Genesis 12:2-3. Sin was also viewed through a community lens, for the impact resonated around the whole nation (e.g., the holiness laws in Leviticus 26, whereby the whole nation reaped the rewards for obedience or punishments for disobedience, or Achan's sin in Joshua 7 by plundering from Jericho). ... 'For people who are passing through the dark night of the soul, turnaround will come because God brings unwavering lovers of Christ into their lives who do not give up on them.'" – pg. 30

"George McCloud wrote, 'The cross must be raised again at the center of the marketplace as well as on the steeple of the church. I am claiming that Jesus was not crucified in a cathedral between two candles, but on a cross between two thieves; on the town garbage heap, at a crossroads so cosmopolitan they had to write his title in Hebrew, Latin, and Greek. At the kind of place where cynics talk smut and thieves curse and soldiers gamble, because that was where he died and that is what he died about and that is where churchmen ought to be and what churchmen should be about.' If we can break through these barriers and begin doing mission in community, God will show us ways to serve and witness as a group to a particular people. MCs seem to be the size that ensures a high level of support (people feel it is big enough to work), while remaining small enough that others can imagine being part of the community. And there is nothing like shared battle stories (and battle scars) to enhance a community's sense of togetherness, so the very action of going out in mission strengthens the group's life with one another." – pg. 32   

"The early church gathered in what the New Testament Greek calls oikos. This word, meaning 'house' or 'household,' included the householder's family, slaves, and, through their network of relationships, friends, neighbors, and even business associates. As the major social structure of Rome (and previously Greece), the early church followed these established sociological and relational pathways. Interestingly, the word oikos was also used by the Greek-speaking Jews to refer to the tabernacle or temple, the original place of Jewish worship. Thus, when Paul and the early church started using this word to describe their gatherings, they brilliantly mixed the two meanings. ... The gathering was relational, and while the gathered group was from a variety of social classes and backgrounds, the pre-existing social networks were the major way in which people came to faith. Clearly the oikos strategy worked well, since Rodney Stark has shown how the early church grew exponentially in three centuries. Beginning in A.D. 40 with around 1,000 believers (around 0.0017% of the population of the Roman Empire), Stark shows how by A.D. 350 the total size of the church had multiplies to roughly 33,882,000 (56.5% of the Empire). ... (this happened while) fierce persecutions still occurred, until the worst one of all between A.D. 303 and 33, under Diocletian and Galerius, when enormous numbers of Christians died." – pgs. 33-34

"(With Romans 16 and Philippians 4, along with other references throughou the New Testament) ... it seems that, from a biblical perspective oikos evangelism is God's natural method for sharing his supernatural message. It is trans-historical and trans-cultural. Oikos is integrity-based evangelism, since it stands or falls on the quality of the relationship, which of course reflects the relational core of the Gospel. 1 Peter 2:1-5 talks of how we are being built into a spiritual oikos, centered on the cornerstone who is Jesus, in order to serve God as a holy priesthood. In Ephesians 2:14-22, Paul reflects on this principle of Christ restoring peace between God and humanity, bringing us into a new community together, which he describes as being the oikos of God. This is what we are co-laboring with Christ to see – people coming with us into the Father's oikos. When Paul and Peter talked about us being the oikos of God, they did so deliberately. Their call into Christian community, into ekklesia, was into sharing life together throughout the week, in natural networks of oikos relationships. ... The New Testament's instruction and pattern reveal a church that can be called a household of people on mission." – pgs. 35-36

"A Person of Peace is someone who:
  • Welcomes you
  • Receives you
  • Listens to you
  • Serves you
  • Responds to you 

... The entry point for following Jesus this way is when we intentionally allow Him into our seemingly everyday interactions with people we meet (the exchange of 'peace,' or shalom, simply being the standard greeting in the culture of Jesus' day), whereby we look and listen to discern where the Holy Spirit is already at work, as we go about our lives. One of the markers of a Person of Peace is that the individual often becomes a gatekeeper to his or her community. In other words, as Jesus moves through you to change that person, he or she will then introduce you to his or her network of relationships, granting you favor, access, and opportunity with those people. ... this strategy is about bringing the Gospel where we already are as we shop, play sports, collect the kids, go to work, meet the neighbors, etc. Thus, the very healthiest Missional Communities are reaching out to their context in ways that feel natural and life-giving. By focusing on People of Peace, the missional investment is not emotionally taxing in fact, it can easily become life-giving, even for those who are quiet and reserved." – pgs. 38-39

" ... the church needs to move and seep into every crack and crevice of our culture. ... A Missional Community is an extended family of people on mission together, seeing the Gospel come to life and incarnated in whatever crack or crevice of society they find themselves in (i.e. mission context). This is why People of Peace are so fundamental to Missional Communities and seeing evangelism happen. The Person of Peace gives you credibility and access to the sub-culture he or she is in." – pg. 40

"A few years ago in Sheffield, in the United Kingdom, there was a large Iranian Muslim population. Obviously, a worship service was not going to be the way to reach this population, due to all the cultural hurdles and social pressures in place. However, one Christian became very engaged and connected with one person in that community. Eventually, that person came to know Jesus. He was the Person of Peace. So what happened next? That existing Christian was able to work with this brand-new Iranian Christian, and as relationships were built over several years, more than sixty Iranian Muslims came to know Jesus. Now they are a thriving Missional Community within the body of Christ connected to St. Thomas Philadelphia, Sheffield. ... This person entered and incarnated himself into that crack of society, he found favor with a Person of Peace, and the result was an extended family now following Jesus. We have seen this play out over and over. When we start to see it this way, we see that the opportunities are endless. How many sub-groups, sub-cultures, people groups, neighborhoods, cracks, and crevices are there in your city? Each has the potential to see the Gospel incarnated in a very specific, contextual way that is true to who Jesus is calling them to be." – pg. 41

"If you build a church around Missional Communities, what you end up with is a movement. This will be a network of networks, with leaders at every level who are passionate about seeing the Kingdom of God infiltrate every crack of society, planting authentic expressions of church that draw people back to their God and Father. Reaching the world requires us to release the church to penetrate society, rather than simply offering more centralized services. Such a church, gradually infiltrating subversively through all the networks of society, will birth genuine city transformation. As church history proves, this is the sort of movement that people will give their lives for. This network of tribes will share common values and the same dream, yet each will find unique and tailored ways to express and live them out in their place of service." – pg. 41 

2.3 | The Four Spaces

" ... in the 1960s, Edward T. Hall developed a theory based on the relationship between space and culture, coining the term 'proxemics' for how we as humans use space and build communities. He concluded that we use four spaces to develop personalities, cultures, and communication:

  • Public Space is where we share a common experience and connect through an outside influence.
  • Social Space is where we share an authentic 'snapshot' of who we are, which shows what it would be like to have a personal relationship with us.
  • Personal Space is where we share private experiences, thoughts, and feelings.
  • Intimate Space is where we share 'naked' information about who we are and are not ashamed.

... As we are thinking about this primarily in terms of church life, we can look in the Bible to trace the four spaces and how they affect our culture and relationships:

  • Public 
    • Old Testament: Temple festivals 
    • New Testament: Jesus proclaiming the Kingdom to multitudes

  • Social
    • Old Testament: Synagogue 
    • New Testament: Jesus and the 72, parties, weddings, etc.

  • Personal
    • Old Testament: Old Testament: Family devotional life
    • New Testament: Jesus and the 12 

  • Intimate 
    • Old Testament: Husband and wife e.g., Song of Songs
    • New Testament: Jesus with Peter, James, and John 

... The journey of connecting with others involves all four types of spaces, so churches need to need to consider carefully how people can access all four. People belong to one another at different levels of intensity, and healthy churches enable people to belong to all four gathering sizes.

  • Public – Sabbath Celebration Services with over 100 people
  • Social  – Missional Community with ideally 15-40+ people
  • Personal  – Small Group with approximately 6-12 people
  • Intimate – Accountability partners with 2-3 people

... A complicating factor is that in recent years Christians have tended to idolize the notion of intimacy, as if that should be the goal of all (or at least most) relationships. When we study the principles of the four spaces, we realize what complete nonsense that idea is. Intimacy is not the over-riding goal or the most important level ... All connections are significant and bring value and belonging. This also challenges what our expectation should be of an encounter with God: should we be experiencing 'intimacy' as the sole hallmark of authentic worship in every gathering size? ... we can't organize someone's closest and most intimate relationships (unless we are trying to form a cult), so church leadership and community can only model, encourage, and, maybe, resource deeper relationships. ... The challenge for church leaders is to offer high quality experiences in the different spaces, notably the weekend services, Missional Communities and smaller groups."
– pgs. 42-46  

"Western churches tend to offer only two ways to belong: public space and some kind of blend of personal/intimate. ... for MCs, the classic pressure is to provide a small group experience, especially when the Missional Community is new and emerging and perhaps the size is still somewhere in the teens. People, especially evangelical Christians, seem to love the idea of sitting around in a circle of fifteen people sharing their prayer requests or having Bible study after Bible study. Apparently, that is authentic community. The problem is that such a group size is already way too big to work effectively in personal space (can you really remember fifteen prayer requests?). Thus, what is shared will be shallow (or dominated by the emotionally demanding person), because, major crises aside, subconsciously people will know not to share private information in that size of a gathering. Thus, running an MC like a small group is a sure inhibitor for any sort of growth. ... a new MC in the teens should act as if there are already twenty-five people there, doing only social space activities. Although people will put pressure on for the small group experience (particularly if the MC has grown from a small group), the leader must firmly resist that pressure. For a Missional Community that is in the teens in size, inviting more people to join needs to be the top priority. The danger of a group settling ... (is) it will operate like a small group ... and most of the people will default to thinking the leader will do everything, which leads, of course, to consumerism. One practical idea is for the MC to spend some time at the next gathering brainstorming names. Have each person write down the names of at least two or three people he or she could invite. Make sure you have several MC gatherings coming up that will be good for those new people to have an authentic taste of your community and its mission. Shoot for twenty people as a baseline to build the social space momentum." – pg. 47

"If you focus on principles, you empower everyone to act without constant monitoring, evaluating, correcting or controlling. ... We strongly encourage you to take some time to define the three gathering sizes (celebration, MCs, and smaller groups), asking yourself, what are the unique outcomes that you are looking to see at each size? ... Try the discipline of deciding what are the three most important and distinct things for each level of gathering. Keep it simple, memorable, and clearly focused.

  • Sabbath Celebration – (1) Preaching the Word, (2) Sacrament, (3) Inspiration
  • Missional Community – (1) Mission, (2) Community, (3) Training
  • DNA Group – (1) Discovery, (2) Nurturing, (3) Accountability for Action

... As we take these values, we can release individuals, leaders, and groups to put them into action as they see fit for their context. It is not the job of the main leaders of the church to run everything. Instead, they set the values and outcomes by which groups will be measured, providing tons of encouragement, wisdom, and practical support, thereby letting the Lord express himself in all manner of creative and wonderful ways." – pgs. 48-49

"MCs, at their core, are a community of people who love to be together and know how to have fun, as well as being a place of identity and generosity. This community is on a mission together to impact a particular network of relationships or neighborhood, by incarnating the Gospel into that specific context through words and deeds.– pg. 49 

2.4 Attractional Vs. Missional

"In the Roman model, there was a very 'if you build it, they will come' mentality (this is pre-Reformation). You establish a new mission base in the church and then invite people into it. ... we also have the Celtic model. The Celts had something very organic happening. It was mobile. It was agile. It was missional. Perigination (meaning, 'the wanderer'). The Celtic Christians were known as 'Wanderers of Christ.' ... Now, a pivotal turning point for both models was the Synod of Whitby (664 A.D.). The Celts made a decision to join in with everyone else, creating a combination of Roman and Celtic models into one. In other words, they began to work together. The missional churches that were being started were no longer just outposts for the missional frontier but a place of invitation and in-gathering. This combination of mission and invitation proved to be a killer combination for the evangelizing of Europe. The story of the Romans and the Celts coming together in the Synod of Whitby is basically saying, 'My weakness is your strength. What if we could figure out a way to work together?'... Lesslie Newbigin said that the church is to be 'a sign, instrument and foretaste' of the reign of God. We can see that happening here with these experiences. If you are used to worshiping with a few dozen people in your village and suddenly you are worshiping with hundreds or maybe thousands of people, then that is a pretty powerful sign and foretaste of the life to come. ... The small village missions that people attended locally were pioneering the missional frontiers and discipling people and reaching into un-evangelized villages. At the same time, people were connected to a cathedral where, every once in a while, everyone gathered and saw just how big and glorious the Kingdom of God was. When these models worked in tandem together, they evangelized the whole of Europe. The combination of a missional, sending center (the cathedral) and the smaller, missional outposts won the day.– pgs. 50-51

"When the Sunday service becomes the center of discipleship and the service is geared more around watching and consuming (which it's almost impossible not to do when it's geared around a 'big show'), discipleship becomes really hard. ... The truth of the matter is that we need both to work in tandem together; we need both to realize their unique purpose. When this is done well, we've seen whole cities start to change. Ultimately, we are about calling cities and regions and countries back to God and seeing them transformed. ... What we find in Missional Communities is the ability to do both. The ability to have a pioneering, low-maintenance, laity-driven vehicle on the frontlines of the missional frontier being resourced and equipped by a mission center where everyone can gather, celebrate what God has done, look to what he will do, experience a bigger story, and go back into the mission fields.– pgs. 52-53

"In the book AND: The Scattered and Gathered Church, Hugh Halter and Matt Smay write, 'The idea of the AND is that every church can find a balance of both scattering people out for mission while maintaining a biblically meaningful reason to gather together.' Jon Tyson, pastor at Trinity Grace Church in New York City, put it this way: 'We have Missional Communities that meet during the week and our borough churches (various campuses that meet throughout NYC) gather each Sunday, but every 6 weeks the whole church comes together and it's like freaking Hillsong United. We have the lights, the band, the lasers, amazing teaching, the whole show. And we have no problem with that. It's only happening once every 6 weeks.' And there is something to that, right? It isn't that a thousand people getting together to worship God with one voice in an electric experience isn't meaningful. Something in that is a reflection of Isaiah 6 or Revelation 21 and a foretaste of the fulfilled Kingdom to come. But it's meaningful because it's seen through the lens of having done mission. It's meaningful because we are reminded of how big the story is that we are participating in when we all gather together. It's meaningful because it sends us back out into the mission field with fresh energy, vigor, and enthusiasm." – pg. 53  

2.5 Leadership

"The best MC leaders are completely devoted to following Christ into the mission field, recognizing that, wherever they are, the fields around them today are white unto harvest. If these leaders find themselves in an especially tiring or challenging season of life, they still view themselves as missionaries into those tough places. As the leaders allow God to work through them in those everyday situations and interactions of life, they find rich blessing and fresh grace given to them, by the Holy Spirit, their team, and those they are seeking to reach. Truly, this becomes a lifestyle that they want forever. They know they have been ruined by this way of living and seeing lives around them transformed. They can never go back to the old ways of doing things. We honestly believe that releasing leaders who are not paid to live out their calling is a very real and tangible way of embracing the priesthood of all believers." – pg. 54

" ...  entrusted people need to be deeply accountable for their character and the way in which they lead. ... With regular group members, the leader will release creativity and innovation, holding people to the standard of the underlying values and vision that the group shares. With high-capacity group members, as time goes by, the leader will increasingly freely delegate and allow them to do things 'their way,' but at the same time giving clear feedback to help hone them into all that they can be in Christ. ... 'leadership is not really about delegating tasks and monitoring results; it is about imbuing the entire workforce with a sense of responsibility for the business.' They call this mutualism, whereby staff are measured against qualitative values such as trust, responsibility, and innovation' (from article in the Harvard Business Review in December 2009)." – pgs. 52-53

"If the Gospel is to be incarnated into every neighborhood, we need flexible and lightweight models that can adapt to the particular cultures that we find there, allowing all types of leaders to step forward.

  • Everyone Can Play: Let's encourage our leaders to expect everyone in their MC to come ready to give more than he or she will receive. If we are the body of Christ, then we need all members to perform their function freely. Participation increases through intentionality. The leaders and the most gifted need to step back and create the space for others to realize that they can step forward. ... It is OK for things not to be perfect ... Family life is messy, and while we want to do as good a job as possible, we will quickly prevent the less experienced/gifted/competent from sharing if they are, in effect, publicly critiqued and implicitly shown up.

  • Multiplication from Day One: The mindset from the outset is that 'our Missional Community will one day multiply.' The group then talks, prays, and plans toward it. Whether that day comes quicker or slower than expected, with a lengthy build-up or seemingly out of the blue, the wise leader will have prepared the way be building that expectation into the values and dreams of the Missional Community." – pg. 54

"Who can be an MC Leader?
  • Character: Are they committed to Christ? Are they willing to be held accountable? It's useless to have someone with leadership skills who doesn't have the character to see it through to the end. If people are flakey, then they probably aren't yet ready. Will they do what they say they are going to do?

    • Are they committed to Christ?
      • Is their character on the path to Christ-likeness?
      • Are they free from any overt or significant bondage to sin (i.e. model self-control, inner healing, and freedom from addiction)?
      • Do they have a general knowledge of basic doctrines (i.e. grasp of orthodox Christian belief)?

    • Are they willing to be accountable?
      • Can be asked directly if they are under authority, they humbly affirm it, and others who know them agree
      • Loyal, constructive, and servant-hearted (not proud, challenging, or disruptive)
      • Fully committed to a Leaders DNA (i.e. Huddle)

  • Chemistry: Are they committed to this church? In other words, do they 'click' with the church culture and the church leadership? You don't have to be best friends, but if they are not prepared to submit to authority, there will be problems down the line.

    • With the church for 6-9 months as an absolute minimum
    • Trained in an already healthy, existing Missional Community
    • Committed to the whole church body (i.e. leaders, tithing, etc.) and not tugging against the flow or vision 

  • Competency: Do they have a clear mission vision? Can they seek and listen to the Lord for his direction and then work out how to put that into ongoing, consistent action that bears long-term fruit?

    • Vision can be said in one or two sentences
    • Something specific God has placed on their hearts
    • Leader keeps vision focus and shape of their group

  • Capacity: Will others follow them? People often intuit whether someone has the ability and anointing to build and grow something of a certain size, and vote accordingly with their feet. This is a way to measure a leader's spiritual capacity at a particular time.

    • Can they gather enough people to make it viable?
    • Can they lead a group of 15-40 people?

Missional Community Leader Commitment:

    • You love Jesus and are committed to being his disciple forever.
    • You love this church and are committed to being part of things here for the next season of your life (i.e., you need to expect to be around long enough to properly establish, develop, deepen, and multiply leadership in any new MC). You will have a track record of service and involvement in the church, so that we know and share our vision and values.
    • You have leadership gifting and are willing to fully connect into our ongoing investment process for leaders that we call Leadership DNAs (i.e. Huddles).
    • You have a vision for a Missional Community that incorporates family (i.e. UP), servants (i.e. IN), and missionaries (i.e. OUT), but can above all be defined by a specific missionary (or OUT) focus. This can be to a neighborhood or to a network (e.g. the urban poor, students from a particular college, business leaders, a specific neighborhood, etc.). Basically, it can be anything that is definable where you could reasonably build an MC.
    • You can gather enough people around you and the vision God has placed in your heart to make something happen!"– pgs. 56-60

"If leaders are to stay for the long-term, they need to experience leadership as a part of the rhythm of their life, rather than a burden to carry. ... Their role is more like the conductor of an orchestra and certainly is not that of a one-man band. The leader is there to empower group members to empower others, under the authority and power of the Holy Spirit. ... The MC leader is a helper, coming alongside others to cast vision for a community that goes in mission in the name of Christ. MC leaders recognize that there are others in the group who are better suited to perform most functions. Even if the leaders happen to be the most gifted, they want to train and release others, so those who come after can go further than the leaders have. ... The leader's job is not to pastor and disciple everyone but to make sure everyone has the opportunity to be pastored and discipled. The leaders keep the vision high on the agenda, calling people to a better future as the group brings more of the Kingdom into the context where they are called by God.– pgs. 60-61

"When the group is new, the leader plays a more directive role ... As the group goes through the different phases of following a call, the leader shifts his or her role from visionary to coach to help people through the inevitable dip, as the scale of the task starts to dawn and the initial energy has dropped away. As the leaders walk people through that, gradually the leaders' role morphs to become more of a consensus builder, enabling the growing maturity in the group to be expressed and the shared ownership of the mission vision to be creatively expressed. Although this stage is often the most enjoyable and fruitful to be in, leaders at some point shift their focus to becoming a multiplier, preparing the way for the growing group to release new expressions of MCs that the Lord has been stirring up in the hearts of one or more people within the group. The leader at the same time is working out what the next season will look like for the community, as it gives birth and takes stock of what God is saying to community members as they review what has, and has not, been achieved. This process is very much one where the leader's team-building skills remain important." – pg. 61

"As MCs develop, clearly certain roles start to form within the life of that community. This is a natural process, and so long as they remain useful and lightweight, a helpful development. Examples might include the host for the evening (who oversees room layout, hospitality, etc.), food/drinks coordinator, facilitator for the actual session, children's coordinator, mission planner, newcomers welcome / follow-up, worship (not necessarily a musical role), etc. You will easily begin to work out the ones that are helpful in your context." – pg. 62

"The other thing a leader must work out is how he or she is going to offer feedback and coach people. ... A mission activity that is badly organized and attended is something that should not just be swept under the rug. In our experience, while many newer MC leaders find the initial journey of learning to give honest feedback a struggle, over time it develops them and those they lead, as well as building their credibility within their community. This is an important value to build in your leaders (which you will model in the Leadership DNA, i.e. Huddle). MC leaders have found writing out their expectations of those who seek to be part of the MC leadership team helpful. ... writing out expectations can be helpful in certain mission contexts in which a high commitment and high-accountability team is needed." – pg. 62

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

"Many churches create cultures that are high in invitation but low in challenge. This creates leaders who, essentially, are lazy – they feel loved and valued, but there is little emphasis on actually achieving anything for the Kingdom. Other churches go the other way, being low in invitation and high in challenge. This produces leaders who, essentially, are driven – they have lots of goals and expectations placed upon them, and they are brought quickly to account if they don't meet expectations, but they are not valued for who they are as individuals, and there is little care and consideration for the realities of their personal life. These leaders quickly become frustrated and either quit or are on the edge of burnout. ... The goal is to build a church that is high in invitation and challenge. This produces leaders who are well placed to be fruitful and multiply the Kingdom into the lives of others. This is because the leaders are honored and loved for who they are, while also having clear goals and challenges at which to aim. They don't settle for second best and will be significant contributors to the Kingdom of God. ... We earn the right to speak tough love ... We speak validation into the areas that truly are a representation of the love of Christ, incarnated in that person's character and lifestyle. This then enables us to push back firmly in those areas where that person makes bad calls, and even more significantly, we identify patterns of behavior that are hindering his or her Kingdom potential from being maximized.– pg. 63, 65

"One of the key issues that we see repeatedly with leaders is an unbalanced rhythm of life. Missional leaders almost always work too hard and don't intentionally take rest time – for themselves, their spouse, children, friends, and for their personal walk with the Father. ... As a leader, if you don't nurture your own vitality and monitor your own pace, no one else will. ... during a twelve-month period, each MC has a month or two when the community significantly dials back on meetings and organization. This pruning time enables you as leaders to be refreshed and to return to the normal rhythm of group life with more energy, vision, and focus. What we also see is that during that rest time, people often gather informally and do more social stuff together, which, of course, greatly benefits the group. ... While God rests from his work, humanity is to work out of a place of rest. Our rest and abiding are meant to be a preparation for our work and fruitfulness, not as a last resort after we're already burned out from too much work. God said this is such an important principle that he included it in his top 10! In the same way that we wouldn't wish to murder or steal, neither should we ignore the principle of rest and work.– pgs. 63-64

"Case Study: Trinity Grace Church New York Leadership Selection Process – Today, to start a Missional Community, the potential leader needs to have been in another MC for at least six months and have served in some leadership capacity. There is plenty of scope for this, as all the MCs are led by a team of around six to eight people, with one key leader overall. Different members of the team oversee one of the four "Gospel Rhythm" gatherings through the month (worship night, men's and women's night, dinner night, and service night), on the basis that most people have a passion for at least one of these meetings. Intentionally, the MC leadership team operates very much like a team overseeing a church plant. After serving within an existing Missional Commmunity, the potential leader can potentially have his or her character vouched for. He or she then enters into a period of testing, with the yardstick being that of a deacon in the New Testament. As part of this testing, he or she needs to establish where the new community will be formed and have that vision affirmed by the church's wider leadership team. Then a series of gatherings, dinners, or meetings occur, to see if others within the church share and will gather around that new vision." – pg. 65  

2.6 Discipleship Leads to Mission

"If God is the Rescuing God and we are made in his image, that means that buried deep within each of us is the same seed of the Rescuing God, the God who is on a Mission, the God who will stop at nothing to put everything back together, the God who wants us to get in on the action. In his final words to his disciples, he clarifies what making disciples means: Teach them to do everything that I have taught you. A disciple is someone who does the same things Jesus' disciples did. ... if Jesus has called us to make disciples, it's a Gospel imperative to teach everyone, not just the evangelists, how to be missional in their everyday comings and goings. What is apparent is that we have, over time, separated discipleship from mission, as if somehow you can be a disciple of Jesus and not participate in his mission. So how can we actually create missional disciples who can lead others in God's mission?– pg. 70

"A Leadership DNA (i.e. Huddle) is a place where missional leaders, usually a group of four to eight people, can receive encouragement and accountability in community. In essence, the Huddle leader helps each person answer two questions:

  • What is God saying to you (as you worship, pray, read the Bible, spend time with your friends and spouse, discipline your kids, in the stillness of the night before sleep, play sports, watch TV, interact with your colleagues, etc.)?
  • What are you going to do in response?

Why do Huddles work so well in discipling people? Simple. The leader. The leader constantly takes people back to these two questions. What is God saying to me? What am I going to do about it? Suppose during the course of a Huddle meeting someone really sensed that God was calling him to start a new Missional Community that would reach out to artists in a specific neighborhood of the city. 

So that's question 1. What is God saying to this person? He senses God is asking him to plant this new Missional Community for artists. Question 2: What is that person going to do about it? Well, obviously it would be a good idea to spend some time in this mission context, getting to know the area, the people, and the places people go to. This person is aware that there is a coffee shop called Globetrotters that many of the artists in this area frequent, so he decides to spend some time there. The Huddle members specifically agree to spend two nights there before the next Huddle happens in two weeks. They've answered question 2. What are they going to do about it? They have a plan. They are going to a coffee shop to observe, listen, and discern the mission context. The Huddle leader will hold them accountable to the plan. 

So what does the Huddle leader do? At the beginning of the next Huddle, each person shares how he or she followed through on the plans. Did these disciples do what they said they were going? This leader did follow through and spent the two nights at Globetrotters, and because of that, he noticed something. While a lot of artists spend time there, they are mostly photographers. And strangely enough, this leader is a photographer as well. And the process starts again. What is God saying? How am I going to respond? Jesus says that his sheep know his voice.
Huddle is a continued process of learning to hear the voice of the Shepherd and responding. It is the process of growing in relationship with him and being changed by that relationship, as a disciple and as a leader. ... Huddles are challenging and nurturing, offering accountability as well as encouragement. This means that Huddles are not therapeutic in nature; rather, they help people discern what God is asking them to do and then respond. Huddles for MC leaders need to meet regularly to build momentum – at least monthly, ideally every two weeks ... Honestly, we'd recommend at least every two weeks. A Huddle generally lasts around 1 1/2 hours.

A Huddle is:
    • For your leaders in mission – it is also a place to draw in emerging leaders, as a place where they can be developed quickly and you can assess their level of maturity.
    • A place where leaders give and receive encouragement and accountability.
    • For a group of up to 6-8 people.
    • Regular and consistent in their rhythm of meeting.
    • Led by the leader.
    • Accessed by invitation from that leader – this is not something people bring a friend to. If you lead a Huddle, then it is your Huddle and you set the terms, including who is invited in to be discipled by you.
    • A privilege, not a right.
    • Relaxed and fun – laughter should happen regularly!
    • Dependent on openness and honesty – the bar is set by you as the Huddle leader being equally open and honest.
    • For a season only, not forever – we tend to ask people to commit for a church year at a time.
    • Measured by growth in maturity and fruitfulness of members.
    • Aim is to see MC leaders take the principles of Huddle and in turn start to Huddle their emerging leaders in their communities.

... our largest concern is that you are releasing leaders who actually know how to disciple people and are held accountable in a loving, supportive environment.– pgs. 70-73

Next post: Launching Missional Communities: A Field Guide Part 2 of 3 

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