missional community

Missional Community vs. Bible Study

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!

By Todd Engstrom

Although I was raised in the church and had a knowledge of God, I didn’t embrace Jesus until I heard gospel preached and lived out by some Young Life leaders. God has proven faithful and good to me since that day, even in great suffering and loss. I have learned to treasure Romans 8:28 as a wellspring of hope and truth.

God has blessed me with an amazing wife (Olivia), three sons (Micah, Hudson and Owen) and a daughter (Emmaline). Growing up in the northwest, the thought never crossed my mind that I would have four children who are native Texans. Despite landing in the south, I still watch Notre Dame games with my children every Saturday in hopes they will land at my alma mater.

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