I often have conversations about missional communities, and the most asked question I receive is “what’s different about a missional community?”. I wanted to provide some distinctions from other forms small groups have often taken in this series:
- Missional Community vs. Bible Study
- Missional Community vs. Community Group
- Missional Community vs. Small Group
In my last post, I talked about the difference between a missional community and a bible study. Here, I want to address the difference between a missional community and a community group or fellowship group.
One of the greatest felt needs of attenders in many churches is “community”. We talk about the value of it, tell people they need it, and provide lots of ways for people to engage it. As I have engaged in connecting a lot of people, mostly what they are after is finding friendships that will spur them towards Christ.
That desire is good and godly…I want the same thing!
The danger in the church aiming for “community” though, is that it typically becomes the destination. Once relationships have been established and the need for friends has been met, that’s the way a community group stays. Community groups love to spend time together and have rich friendships, and the concept of “doing life” together is easy and appealing.
But these kinds groups often struggle because they lack the imperative of mission. They meet and live life in community but do not engage in missionary activity. Once more appealing friendships or changes in life circumstances occur, a community group often dies out.
Community on this side of heaven isn’t primarily about us though. It’s about God’s glory being displayed to the world! Jesus clearly explains that the purpose of Christian unity and community is so that the world would know God the Father sent Jesus to this earth in John 17:21-24.
A missional community is different, in that they primarily see the purpose of their friendship, love and unity is to be an apologetic for the gospel to their neighbors. Community isn’t the only purpose of the group, but community has the purpose of mission.