Honestly, I am just a little worried that many are calling groups “missional communities” when they are not missional at all (by Campus Renewal Ministries’s definition at least). I’m concerned that many churches and ministries have slapped the term “missional communities” on their traditional small groups and are calling them what they are not.
In the next few weeks I hope to clarify what CRM calls “missional communities.” Certainly, it’s just our definition and perspective. There is much being written about on this subject from many perspectives. We work with many ministries at the University of Texas who see things slightly differently than us. So this is just CRM’s understanding of what really defines a missional community.
You Need A Partner
This may seem like the most simple part of the definition: One person does not equal a “community.” You’re not a missional “community” unless you have at least one partner in mission. A single person may be a missionary, but they are not a missional community.
There are very few Biblical examples of lone missionaries. Jesus sent people out two by two. Paul almost always went with one or more persons. God knew it was “not good” for man to be alone (Genesis 2) and that “two are better than one” and “a cord of three strands is not easily broken (Ecclesiastes 4).” When two or three gather in Jesus’s name, He is in their midst (Matthew 18).
Jesus said they would know we are Christians by our love (John 13). Christian community is the most important Christian apologetic. Missional communities live life among their friends who are not yet following Jesus and the way that they live among one another is what attracts their friends to Jesus. Missional communities require two or more people because their mission is seen in the way they live together.
“The more the merrier” when it comes to missional communities. More followers of Jesus committed to the mission means more relationships with lost students can be developed. We’re all different, so we can connect with more people. Video gamers with their people, engineers with theirs, sports fans with theirs and so on. More people equals more influence.
Plus, more people means greater diversity of spiritual gifts. Picture a missional community with two evangelists. Now picture one with believers gifted with administration, evangelism, hospitality, mercy, and giving. That group of five will see much more fruit than the group of two with the same gift.
Justin Christopher is the director of Campus Renewal Ministries at the University of Texas and author of Campus Renewal: A Practical Plan for Uniting Campus Ministries in Prayer and Mission.He gives leadership to the Campus House of Prayer and the missional community movement at the University of Texas.