As we have led missional communities at The Austin Stone, we’ve found there are some common transitions in the life of our communities, and this series is discussing those four stages. They are:
- Community Group
- Small Group
- Team of Missionaries
- Missionary Team
Team of Missionaries
As a Small Group begins to implement the practices of missional communities, there are often some realizations that take place within that community. The first is how life giving a missional expression of community can be, and second is how challenging this kind of community lifestyle actually is.
As individuals in the community understand their identity as missionaries and put practices in place consistent with that identity, a Team of Missionaries emerges.
A Team of Missionaries is a group that is seeking to make disciples in each individual’s separate sphere of influence. While the group members may live in different parts of the city, work in different places and have different interests, each individual is praying for people by name and seeking to share the good news of the gospel of Jesus.
We often say this kind of community “gathers for community, but scatters for mission”.
Main Obstacle to Effective Mission
A Team of Missionaries is lacking one thing as a missional community – what we call The Community Apologetic. Whereas most church leaders would be elated to have a church full of Teams of Missionaries, there is still one more major step to be made for us at The Austin Stone.
We aren’t satisfied just with a Team of Missionaries because a gospel-centered community is the most persuasive argument they have to offer their non-believing friends.
The major obstacle to overcome for a Team of Missionaries is to integrate their lives together, overlapping the places they live, work and play.
Main Coaching Point
A Team of Missionaries will need to begin thinking of how they can consolidate their various mission fields. More often than not, we help them practice Third Place cohesively and frequently by helping them identify two to four different Third Places that different people in the group are a part of regularly.
Primarily, we’re looking for places of overlap in their lives – do they have kids in the same school, do they work in the same place, are there distinct overlaps in hobbies or activities? Finding places of commonality helps them establish effective Third Places.
Key Transition Point To “Missionary Team”
This group begins to shift as their desire for the salvation of others goes from the individuals they know to the larger people affiliations they are a part of. Often this means people leaving to either join a MC that is already reaching the people they are passionate about or starting a new MC to reach those people.
What have you found to be effective in implementing common mission as a community? Share in the comments!