Archives For mc-vs

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:

—–

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.

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:

—–

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.

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:

—–

Many of us have been a part of a bible study at some point in our Christian lives.  Typically, these groups gravitate to reading the bible for a set period of time on a specific day of the week.  Bible studies are often great things, but they don’t constitute a Christian community in it’s entirety.

I am often asked “how is missional community different from bible study?”

The short answer is that a missional community is not a bible study, but a missional community studies the bible.  So what’s the difference?

 

A bible study is often defined by gathering for the event of learning.  A missional community is seeking to engage God’s word on a daily basis through a Life Transformation Group and seeking to obey.

The distinction is primarily in expectations – a missional community has the expectation that an individual is participating in the community to contribute something (1 Corinthians 14:26), whereas someone comes to a bible study to consume something.

People need to study the bible for sure, but to study the bible without engaging in an authentic community on mission is a fool’s errand.  The purpose of studying the bible is to teach about God and conform us to the image of Christ, but it’s also to equip us for the work of ministry in the church (community) and outside the church (mission)!

If we are going to be a compelling communities that fosters obedience to the bible, our community should be natural, neutral, and regular, in the pattern and rhythm of everyday life, not a one-hour, drive-through bible study.

The typical bible study sets the bar way too low – don’t make a part of the Christian community the entire thing!