At The Austin Stone, the process of connection to multiplication follows a general pattern that usually takes approximately two years. It generally goes something like this:
- What’s Next?
- The First Four Weeks
- Processing a Preferred Future
- Establishing Healthy Rhythms
- Thinking Critically about the MC
- Considering Multiplication
What’s Next After Connection?
If you commit to connecting individuals into your church into community life and are committed to pursuing missional community, you inevitably need to answer the question “how do we get them moving in the right direction?”
There are a variety of ways you could answer this question, and a variety of things we have tried to launch healthy missional communities. With any process, it’s important to define your end point and your starting point. We are aiming at the multiplication of healthy disciples, the multiplication of healthy missional communities, and the multiplication of healthy churches. Typically, we’re starting out with a group of people who don’t know one another well, generally are approaching community as consumers, and are typically familiar with small groups in the life of the church.
As we think through the process of transition that a group must undergo to become a missional community, we need to consider where people are coming from and where we want to take them. We therefore use tools that are familiar to many who have participated in groups in the past like curriculum, but begin to template life together in a different way.
Additionally, there are a few critical stages in the life of a group over time:
- The first four weeks of a newly formed group
- Processing through a preferred future together
- Settling into the normal rhythms of life together
- Working through conflict and assessing the health of the community
- Considering group multiplication
These critical moments in the life of a missional community have shaped what we do organizationally over time. We have created environments, trainings, and tools to respond to each one of these stages, and I’ll work through them in the next few posts. It might be helpful to review the stages of missional community development series, as this will parallel that set of posts.