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 this post, I want to show how a missional community is different than a small group.
Small groups have been used in many great ways in the Church over the last few decades. There are many different variations on small groups, but they are primarily groups of around 12 people who gather weekly together to connect, worship, study the bible, and pray for one another. Often times they try to serve together in ministry within the church and in their city.
These kinds groups often understand the centrality of the bible, the need for community, and that their group has a purpose beyond itself. I’ve had great experiences in this kind of group! But I’ve often found there is a significant struggle to invite others to join in, and it’s often very difficult to mobilize an entire group to something outside the regular meeting.
Small groups often have the intention of gathering, and will try to serve some cause on a monthly basis, but rarely do they produce mature disciples of Jesus.
Why? Because, by and large, success still is attendance at an event, rather than events helping relationships become natural in the rhythms of life. Small groups try to do community and mission outside the normal routines of life.
A missional community understands the value of different kinds of gatherings. A missional community sees itself as a network of relationships with a common mission, rather than being defined by an event that is attended. Missional communities gather, but the gatherings are with different purposes.