Missional communities

As a church we have taken on the principles of 'Missional Communities'. Check out some of our Missional Communities in the 'whats on' section. We hope there is a community that you can be apart of here at Eb.

A Missional Community is a group of people, about the size of an extended family, who are united through Christian community around a common service and witness to a particular neighborhood or network of relationships. The participants of Missional Communities find their primary identity of “church” within the Missional Community, rather than a larger worship service or small group. In essence, this group of people becomes a close-knit spiritual family on mission together.

 

General characteristics

Missional Communities (MCs) are designed to be a flexible, local expression of church, not dependent on typical church buildings or church services. MCs have been described as “small enough to care but large enough to dare.” Missional Communities may be called by other names, such as Clusters, Go Communities, Incarnational Communities, or Mission Shaped Communities. MCs are primarily led by laity and are “lightweight and low maintenance”[3] and most often meet 3-4 times a month in their missional context. Missional Communities place a strong value on life together, with the expressed intention of seeing those they impact choose to start following Jesus. With this focus, a Missional Community will often grow and multiply into other MCs. Missional Communities are most often networked within a larger church community, often with many other Missional Communities.

 

An MC has leaders who, through a process of discernment, decide their mission vision and then invite people to join them in reaching that particular context. The leaders of the MC are held accountable by the leadership of the greater church community, both for what they do and for the way in which they do it (i.e., character as well as task). “Low control, high accountability” is one way to describe relationships between the Missional Community and the church body and leadership. 

 Network and accountability

If MCs are “low control/high accountability,” having a church structure that invests in lay leaders and empowers them while holding them accountable is of paramount importance. Perhaps the most widely used vehicle for this are called Discipleship Huddles, which is a group of 4-10 leaders. The frequency of these groups differs based on each individual church, but generally speaking they meet at least once a month and as often as once a week. Huddles are a place where leaders are actively being discipled in a community of peers, where they are held accountable for the leadership of their groups by their Huddle leader. The two central questions of a Huddle are: 1) What is God saying to you? 2) What are you going to do about it?[4] By seeing that leaders follow through on the plans they form from answering both of these questions, a culture is developed of both high support and high challenge. Over a period of time, this allows leaders to cultivate and sustain the character, skills and spiritual depth needed to lead.

 

As churches with Missional Communities tend to be far more decentralized than most Western churches, the network of these Huddles are essential to the unity and direction of the wider church. Usually the Senior Pastor will Huddle 4-10 leaders, these leaders will in turn Huddle 4-10 leaders, who in turn Huddle the leaders they are responsible for. As the church grows, multiplying Missional Communities and Small Groups, more Huddles are added as necessary. What most churches have found helpful is an agreed upon DNA in the language that all leaders use that filter down to their various groups. Most often this is the language of LifeShapes, a set of 8 Shapes that distill the teachings and principles of the Bible and Jesus, that were fashioned by Mike Breen as Missional Communities first developed and captured in his book “Building a Discipling Culture.”

 

A typical gathering

There is tremendous flexibility in the forms of Missional Communities, since the intention is that they are highly accessible to the culture into which they are planted. They are anchored around the three core relationships of life – UP to God, IN to family and friends, and OUT to the wider society which they seek to be a blessing to. In practice MCs do tend to certain things pretty regularly, albeit in slightly different ways according to their context, including:

Food - ideally sharing a meal together

Socializing/ laughing/ having fun

Breaking Bread/ sharing Communion

Story-telling (i.e. testimony), especially of things people are grateful to God for

Bringing praise and worship to God

Offering prayer for healing and prophetic encouragement to anyone who has particular need

Studying the Scriptures together, especially from what God has been speaking to the leader (or whoever is leading that portion) about during the past week.

Praying for the wider community that you are seeking to reach, as well as for the MCs witness there

Planning practicalities for mission activities

In addition to providing this list, we can summarize this as a 1 Corinthians 11-14 model, which seems the fullest unpacking of how a church oikos [extended household] would meet and express its life together. From what Paul writes, it is also clear that those gatherings were led in such a way that people who weren’t yet Christians could come in and be welcomed, without it throwing all the plans into confusion."

 

As well, a Missional Community will go OUT together in specific missional activities, to serve and witness to their place of calling. Such events need to be regular and rhythmic, so that the group sees this as an integral part of their life together. It should be no more a ‘special’ than meeting to eat together or pray together is.

If you want to know more contact our Missional Community Leader, Leigh Coates on 07855528366