I love missional communities.
Not simply for theological reasons, but because of how they help cultivate spiritually healthy people. As I have taught and practiced missional community over the past year and a half, there have been three main ways Jesus used them to build up His Church.
I want to briefly explain each reason in the hopes that God uses it to encourage and challenge you to see Jesus worshipped more and more wherever you are.
Modeling a Sustainable Lifestyle of Mission
Our usual models for developing community and reaching the lost normally center around 1) individuals; and 2) plenty of free time. But a missional community puts the emphasis on the community to work together to include the lost in what they already do together.
Eating our meals together, going out together and serving together become venues to bring the lost into our community. It is not adding events to your schedule but using what you already do as a means to mission. The community then shares the responsibility of caring for and preaching the gospel to our lost friends.
Using the things you are already involved in and the people you already hang out with as the means for mission, allows the Church to continue making disciples through any season of life.
Facing Up to Our Lack of Love for Other Christians
“This is the most frustrating community group I have ever been a part of.” This is what one of the men in my missional community said after about six months in our missional community. Every group he had been in was filled with people who believed in the same theology, handled conflict the same way and acted just like him.
Usually, the organizing principle for small group type settings is “people like me”. Whether it is in theology, personality or general chemistry between people, our groups cater to the preferences of the individual. This causes all of us to think we love people really well, but it is only when they are just like me.
We are really just good at loving ourselves! Organizing around mission forces us to interact with our family members who we would normally filter out of our lives, but our common mission keeps us together to learn how to truly love.
Keeping Accountable to the Commands of Jesus
If I ask you, “Is getting drunk a sin? How about sex outside of marriage?” Your answer would of course be ‘yes’ because of clear biblical texts. But if I ask you, “Is it a sin to not make disciples?” Most of us are a little hesitant to answer because if we were consistent, we would have to say ‘yes’.
For some reason the commands of Jesus that have to do with others become optional or just for professionals. In missional communities, making disciples of unbelievers is the goal and the community provides accountability for us to fully obey Jesus.
Jesus clearly connects our understanding of how much we’ve been forgiven to our joy in Him and our love for Him (Luke. 7:41-48). Attempting to live in a community on mission brings out the depths of our sin and the heights of His love better than any other model I know.
We are shown to be weak, needy people who struggle to love and be servants of God, while Jesus is the one who was always on mission, loved perfectly and obeyed all of God’s commands to the point of dying for His enemies. We are shown to be more and more unimpressive and Jesus to be more and more impressive.
After all, this was Jesus’ missionary strategy. “And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people to myself.” I love missional communities because, like nothing else I’ve ever seen, it is sustainable over time, it forces us to grow in gospel fueled love for others who aren’t like me, and it pushes me to follow Jesus in making disciples.
What have you learned through doing a missional community?