Ideas for Loving Your Neighbors on Halloween

Halloween is just a few days away. As you are making your plans and prepping costumes for your little goblins, I wanted to also call us to consider how we might love our neighbors this Halloween. Regardless of how you feel about Halloween, it is one of the best days of the year to get to know your neighbors. They will literally be coming to your door!

So, in light of our September sermon series The Art of Neighboring I wanted to share a few ideas on how you can be intentional about loving your neighbors well on Saturday. These ideas are all things that different people/missional communities at Redeemer have done in the past.

1. Don’t just hand out candy, make it fun!
All the other folks in your neighborhood will open the door and drop a few pieces of candy in a trick-or-treater’s bucket. Do something different at your place to make it fun. Set up some games or activities in the front yard where kids can “play for a prize/candy” We’ve done this in several ways over the years including:

  • Spin to Win– a simple game where kids would spin a wheel to determine how many pieces of candy they get.
  • Shoot for Loot– we set up our mini basketball goal in the driveway and every kid got three shots. If they made a shot they got candy.
  • Corn Hole/Washer Toss- Use your yard games like corn hole, washers, ladder golf to create a game for trick-or-treaters to win candy or prizes.

We’ve done these types of things over the last few years and have been stunned by how impactful these simple ideas have been. Our kids and neighborhood kids loved it. Our front yard became a gathering place for neighbors on Halloween. We’ve been able to get to know new neighbors and have significant conversations every year.

2. Create a simple photo booth in your front yard.

Every mom (and dad) wants a great photo of their kids to Instagram on Halloween night. Move a bench into the front yard, decorate with some pumpkins, hang some lights in a tree, and make a sign that says “Halloween 2015”. Just like that you’ve created a place where your neighbors can snap a family photo. Offer to take their picture for them. Ask them about their family. Get to know people! This is such a simple way to love your neighbors.

3. Give out “treats” for the adults too.
Hot chocolate, cider, even bottled water make great “treats” for adults who are chasing their kiddos around the block. Offer parents a drink, ask them their name, be a great neighbor. If you have a fire pit, move it to the driveway and allow folks to make S’mores. Both kids and adults love S’mores!

None of this is rocket science. You can do these things on your own in your neighborhood or together with others in your missional community. It is all fairly simple, yet it requires that we think with gospel-intentionality. It requires making yourself available to engage with people, getting to know them and having conversations. It requires a little more of your time and resources. In other words, it requires that we love our neighbors. It requires that we see ourselves sent to them, to serve, love, and bless with the love of Christ. It requires that we fix our eyes on Jesus this Halloween— the one who made himself available for us, sacrificed his resources for us, loved, served, and even died for us.

So, how is God leading you to love your neighbors this Halloween? What ideas do you have? What have you done in the past that you can share with others? Perhaps you have a story you could share. I’d love to hear them!

Your Missional Community Needs a Vision

Last week I defined missional communities. I answered the question: What is a missional community at Redeemer? Our answer: a missional community is a family of servant missionaries committed to growing as disciples and making new disciples in all of life. In that post I unpacked everything in our definition except for the word “committed”. This word is important because every missional community should be committed to following Jesus in unique ways. It is important for us to understand that although every missional community has the same definition, in practice they can and should look different. Every missional community is a unique family, will serve in unique ways, and is sent as missionaries to a unique people. So, today I will unpack the world “committed” from our definition– answering the question: How do we discern and craft a unique missional community vision?

Crafting an Unique MC Vision
I don’t want to over complicate this idea of crafting a MC vision. This is something that we’ve done in the past. We’ve made the process very complicated at times— using primers and covenants— which have made our MCs clunky and robotic. We’ve also error on the other side, where we haven’t taken seriously them importance of establishing unique MC visions and our MCs have essentially become social clubs or bible studies, that spin their wheels and don’t grow as disciples of Jesus or make new disciples of Jesus.

Simply put, the process of crafting a unique MC vision is about pursuing God together with your missional community, asking him to show you how he wants to work in you and through you during this time and place.

  • We do this because we believe God is working in this time and place. This is what we call Ancient Work. He is at work around us, accomplishing his purposes, using his people. It is our job to have eyes to see, ears to hear, and lives that are available to be used.
  • We do this because we believe that evangelism and discipleship best happen in community. Disciples cannot be mass produced. Disciples of Jesus are made life on life, life in community, and life on mission.
  • We do this because we believe that God speaks to us. He speaks to us about his work in the here and now. He speaks to us directly as we seek him in prayer, and he speaks to us through one another as we discuss and discern.

Discerning the Vision- “Pursing the Lord Together About His Work In & Through You”
Again, I’ve learned to keep this simple and reproducible. Crafting you MC vision is as simple as asking God to show you how he wants you to uniquely live out your gospel identity during this time and space. Below are some simple questions we use to help guide our leaders. This process gives us another chance to teach and reteach gospel identity.

1. How is God asking us to be the FAMILY of God?

  • In what ways do we each need to grow as a disciple of Jesus? How can we help one another do this?
  • How can we use the 5 component of MC life to help us grow in Christ and grow as family?
  • How is God asking us to love one another?
  • What will keep us from being family?

2. How is God asking us to live as SERVANTS of Christ?

  • Who has needs among us?
  • In your relationships with others, who has needs we can meet?
  • What in our city breaks your heart?
  • What will keep us from serving others?

3. Who are the not-yet believers in our lives that God is sending us to as his MISSIONARY people?

  • What relationships with non-Christians do we have that others in our MC can come into? How can we begin to do this ASAP?
  • What are some ways that we can cultivate friendships with those God has placed in our lives? How can we begin to do this ASAP?
  • Who are we praying would come to Christ in the next year? How often will we pray for them by name?
  • What will keep us from doing these things?

One great way to use these questions to craft your MC vision is to take 3 consecutive weeks to discuss these, tackling one set of questions each week. Give people the questions beforehand and have them prayerfully answer them. Then gather together to discuss and pray. Write down the things that are shared and discussed so that you can revisit them regularly.

**(Side Note: Sharing Leadership = Sharing the Vision)
One problem I’ve witnessed in many missional communities is failure to share the vision. Sharing leadership in the missional community is important because it empowers others in your MC to own the vision. If you do everything (or all of the important things) then the missional community vision will be only yours. You’ve taken people that God has gifted and turned them into spectators. Their role becomes “show up and participate”. We want to not only allow others to help us craft the vision of our missional community, but call them to use their gifts and own the vision. Ask the group to consider how God has uniquely gifted them for this work he has called you to. Another way that we have failed in the past is having rigid categories for shared leadership (meal plannner, kids person, etc.). Be careful not to limit people to these positions. It is better to craft your vision first, and then discuss how every person can contribute to the work God has called you to. This might lead you to identifying some people to plan meals and organize kids, but it will help you to make space for the Spirit to lead people into using their gifts and passion.

Evolving Your Vision— “During this Time and Space”
Once we’ve established a vision and shared leadership we need to be careful not to think about a missional community vision as set in stone, like you went up to Mt. Sinai and came down with tablets. It is the job of the MC leaders to be sensitive to the Spirit’s work in and around you, so that you can evolve your vision as needed.

For example: what happens when people leave the community? What happens when God begins to do something different entirely? What if you thought you were supposed to serve in one way, but suddenly find yourself serving in a different way? What about when you get into your missional community and discover the needs within the MC are overwhelming? Then what? Are you allowed to change your missional community vision? Not only are you allowed, but your missional community vision should change if you are truly seeking to follow God.

1. Responding to Needs Within
Early in the life of a missional community discipleship and shepherding needs will continually pop up. As you begin to have fun together and people start opening up about their lives, it’s at this moment when the needs of the MC begin to be revealed. Things like theological issues, or areas where some folks need to be taught or corrected. In others, people reveal thoughts, hurts, pain, or needs that they’ve never shared with anyone before. Hardship or suffering set in in people’s lives. These are all things that have happened in MCs I’ve led. In these moments, the MC has the opportunity to respond to the work of the Spirit in their midst. These things are not a distraction to the mission and vision, but often times need to be seen a apart of the mission and vision. As these moments arise, take time to acknowledge them collectively and acknowledge them as a gift from God to form the community around His purposes and not our preferences.

2. Responding to God’s Movement
This is another opportunity to evolve the vision for your missional community. You’ve prayed, discussed the questions above, and identified ways that God is asking you to live as servant missionaries. You begin to obey and do some of the things that you’ve discussed. As you do these things God might begin to answer prayer and open doors in different ways than you expect. We must be ready to respond to God’s movement and put our plans aside for his plans.

3. Responding When Things Are Stagnate
Although it isn’t always fun, sometimes God asks us to lead a missional community that will go nowhere. The vision you dreamed of doesn’t happen, the people you hoped to reach move away, and the work that God does in you isn’t what you hoped it would be. In a way, this is God answering our prayers though it is not as we would have liked it. It is important to remember that all MCs have a shelf-life. Some will die, others will reproduce. This is not a failure for the MC! God uses stagnate MCs to refine the people and leaders in another way. Who are we to question his work? God can use stagnate MCs in a variety of ways, often leading to launching new MCs or strengthening existing ones by merging.

We cannot predict what God is doing or will do when we craft our MC vision. This is why it is important to revisit your vision regularly with your MC. It is also important to regularly discuss what God is doing in your midst. Celebrate his work regularly and pray for His Spirit to lead you. It is also important that you regularly meet with your MC Coach. Monthly coaching meetings exists to help you see what God is doing in your midst, solve problems, and respond to God’s movement appropriately.

In closing, establishing a clear vision and sharing leadership is paramount for every missional community within the first few months. If a missional community has not established and committed to a vision for growing as disciples and making new disciples it’s failed to fulfill our definition– but most importantly it’s failed to hear from our living God who stands ready to work within us and through us!

Clearly Defining a Missional Community

It seems that nearly everyday I have a conversation about missional communities. I am thrilled that the missional community conversation is continually getting turned up louder! This excitement of mine is not about missional communities as a model of church per say, but rather because I believe missional communities take us back to the New Testament functions and forms of being the church– thus making missional communities most effective for making disciples.

But the more I talk with other church leaders about missional communities the more I am realizing the confusion that surrounds MCs. For some missional communities are mysterious– “I don’t really understand what you guys are doing, but it sounds really cool”. For others they are a new name for small groups– “my church just switched from life groups to missional communities”.  And then there are others who are skeptical– “I’m not so sure missional communities can really work” (by ‘work’ they mean draw and keep big crowds).

Like never before I think it is important for us to clearly define what a missional community is. Over the next three weeks I will be sharing how we define missional community, our vision for missional communities, and how we establish vision/form missional communities.

Let’s start with defining a missional community.

Definition of a Missional Community
A missional community is a family of servant missionaries committed to growing as disciples and making new disciples in all of life. This is a definition that needs unpacking. Let’s start with the “family of servant missionaries…in all of life” part.

Gospel Identity
Our definition of a missional community begins with our gospel identity— who we are in Christ because of the gospel. It can be a real temptation, and a big mistake, to make missional communities about our doing. In other words, we can be more concerned with all that “we can do for God”. But this leads to all kinds of problems: burnout, “doing” in our own power, busyness, etc. Therefore, it is important for us to know that a missional community is first and foremost about learning to “be”. We need to learn to live out our gospel identity in all of life.

We are Family— In the gospel we have been saved from the penalty of sin. We are no longer dead in our sin and objects of God’s wrath (Ephesians 2:1-6). Through Jesus’s bloody death on the cross we have been transferred from being God’s enemies to being His dearly loved children, members of his household, seated with Christ (1 John 3:1-2, Ephesians 2:19). If we are God’s sons and daughters, then that makes us brothers and sisters. We are family. The New Testament is full of instruction for us as to what it looks like to be good family (“the household of God”). Two examples of this can be found in Colossians 3:12-17 & 1 Peter 4:7-11. These passages are worth your reading and reflection. As you read these passages (and many more like them littered throughout the NT) it is clear that the primary paradigm for the church is the family of God.

We are Servants— In the gospel we are being saved from the power of sin. Although we may still fall into sin, we are no longer enslaved to sin. God has placed his Spirit within us, giving us new hearts that are increasingly learning to serve sin less and serve Jesus more (Romans 6:5-14). Rather than “obeying sin’s passions”, we are learning to obey Jesus. As we learn to obey Jesus, we learn to walk his road, taking up our cross and laying down our lives in service to God and others. Every Christian is first and foremost a servant of Jesus.

We are Missionaries— In the gospel we will be saved from the presence of sin. This world is not our home. We are strangers, aliens, and sojourners in this world. But this doesn’t mean we sit on the sideline (or in the pew) and wait for Jesus to return and “take us home”. Instead, we are empowered and equipped by the Holy Spirit to be sent into this world as His “holy people” and “living temple” that proclaims “the excellencies of Him” who saved us (1 Peter 2:9-12). We are to live lives that adorn the gospel, and regularly tell of the hope that we have. God is redeeming this world by using us, his missionary people, to display and declare his redemption to others. Every Christian is equipped and empowered by the Holy Spirit to participate in mission through the body of Christ.

We are a family of servant missionaries. This is our Gospel Identity. We’ve been given everything we need in the gospel! We have people & belonging, joy & significance, and purpose & security. What a good Father— setting us right and using us to see the world set right!

So, a missional community is a small group of people who are learning to live out their identity— loving one another like family, growing free from sin and in selfless obedience to Christ, and sent and empowered by the Spirit to share and show the gospel to those far from Him— in all of life’s everyday rhythms.

“Growing as Disciples and Making New Disciples”
As we continue to grow in the gospel, learning to live more consistently with who we are in Christ (family of servant missionaries), guess what happens? We begin to grow as disciples of Jesus and we make new disciples of Jesus. This is the essence of what it means to be a missional community. But one thing that we’ve learned is that we need help and support in order to grow in the gospel and live out our identity. To help us in our effort to grow as disciples and make new disciples we’ve built some structure into missional community life. We call this structure the 5 Components of MC, and they are built on the 5 Key Practices of the early church seen in Acts. In Acts 2:42-47 we see these 5 key practices that led to growth both personally and corporately.

  1. Devotion to the Apostles teaching— this meant that believers were regularly gathering to learn. They were learning the gospel and learning the way of Christ.
  2. Breaking of bread in homes— They were regularly gathering to share meals and fellowship. As we share meals together we share life.
  3. Prayer— It was God that they depended on in this new life. The devotion to prayer shows us that it was a personal God that they gathered around and trusted. Both personally and corporately, prayer was central in the life of early Christians.
  4. Unity & Clear Mission— they were together and had all things in common. They were on the same page, having a clear vision and united mission. They were selling possessions and giving to the poor— all contributing to the mission.
  5. Fellowship & Favor— not only did they live in close fellowship with one another, but they lived as a people welcoming and inviting to outsiders. Although their message was offensive to many, they had favor with all people because of the life of love they lived. God was adding to their numbers daily as a result.

We live in a different time, culture, and context than the early church that makes some of these practices abnormal to us. But because we think that these practices should be normative, and we want them to be present in our MCs, we’ve developed the 5 Components of Missional Community that we hope captures these early church practices.

5 Components of MCs at Redeemer
These components are meant to be starting points. They themselves are not the goal, but rather that these things would begin to bleed into all of your life, and will help your MC live lives that are consistent with your gospel identity.

  1. Family Meals– The family meal is the time when the missional community gathers to share a meal together with Jesus at the center. This meal is intentional in every way. We must make it clear that Jesus is who we are gathering around and he is the one who makes us a family. Encourage your people to have intentional, Christ-centered conversation while they eat. It is also important to use the family meal night as an opportunity to encourage one another, pray together, and cast vision for the mission of the group.
  2. Sunday Gatherings– Sundays are a place for people who have been being the family of God and living on mission in a broken world to retreat and be renewed by the power and presence of God. We desperately need to be reminded of the truth of God’s word as it is preached. We need to be ministered to by the Spirit as we declare truth through singing. And we need to be reminded of the gospel as we share the Lord’s Supper with the church. Sundays aren’t optional or second rate, they are the place where missional communities are encouraged, shaped by the Word of God, and recommissioned to the mission of making disciples every week.
  3. DNA– DNA is where we dig down deep in our care for one another as disciples. You must make it a goal to see every committed member of your missional community regularly participating in DNA. DNA isn’t just another thing, it is where we are formed by God’s word, pray together, confess sin, and are committed to one another’s personal growth as followers of Jesus.
  4. Missional Living– Missional living is showing and sharing the gospel of Jesus Christ with those who are not yet believers. We should be looking to cultivate loving fellowship with those God has placed in our lives. Missional communities must ask and answer the question, “How will we be build redemptive relationships with the lost?”. Perhaps that means a regular trip to the local park where you invite others and look to build relationships and get to know new friends, you throw parties in your neighborhood, or you build relationships with those you are serving. Whatever it is, we need to make sure we have an outward posture that is looking to share the gospel.
  5. Serving– Serving is a part of who we are as believers. Every missional community should be regularly serving and meeting the needs of the needy. Your MC should be asking, “Who are the people around us in need and how can we meet those needs?”.

Structure as Skeleton
It is important that I give a disclaim here. This can look like a bunch of stuff for you to do. It is not! Remember our doing must flow from our being. These 5 Components are designed to be skeleton, not a check list. The skeleton is to be wrapped in flesh— life on life, life in community, and life on mission.

So, what is a missional community at Redeemer? A missional community is a family of servant missionaries committed to growing as disciples and making new disciples in all of life. You might notice that there is one piece of this definition that I didn’t discuss today… the word “committed”. This word is important. In my next post I will discuss the importance of making a missional community commitment and developing a committed core.

Training Leaders for Missional Community

Recently at Redeemer, we took around 30 of our leaders through 8 weeks of MC training we’ve called the MC Fast Track. Our hope for the MC Fast Track was three-fold:

  1. to provide on-going training for existing MC leaders
  2. to equip new leaders hoping to launch MCs
  3. to “fast track” those who were new to our church on all things MCs (language, vision, expectations, etc.)

We learned a lot through the process, but all in all feel like it was a huge success. Our church was strengthened and 3 new MCs will be launched in our city as a result. One of our biggest take aways was the value of including current leaders, potential leaders, and those brand new all into the same training. The different perspectives and experiences sparked great conversations and dialogue. Also, we were able to provide both push and pull equipping at the same time.

If you would like learn more about our MC Fast Track, the audio and notes for all 8 sessions are available HERE.

3 Tips for Neighborhood Missionaries

I’ve lived in 3 neighborhoods in the last 5 years, and in every neighborhood I have set out with intentions of being “missional”. Each neighborhood was a fresh start and a new people to engage with the gospel. How exciting!

But it didn’t take long for the excitement to run dry and for me to find myself wanting to give up. It has started the same way every time….

“Hey honey, will you bake some cookies so that we can take them over to our neighbors this weekend”, I’ve asked my wife.

My wife (who bakes great cookies) joins me as we take them over to meet our neighbors. Three knocks on three doors and we come home with three plates of cookies in all three neighborhoods we’ve lived in.

Maybe my neighbors just don’t like cookies (or us), so we try something different.

“How about a neighborhood cookout”, I said to myself.

I moved my grill from the back yard to the front yard. I remembered one of those guys at Verge said that was a good way to be missional. (They also were the ones who said taking cookies to my neighbors was a good way to be missional).

“They will see me cooking and smell the delicious burgers and will stop to say hi”, I thought. Once they do that I will invite them to join us for dinner. To my surprise…no one cared I was grilling burgers in the front yard, and we had dinner alone.

I’m persistent, so when that didn’t work, I decided I would invite my neighbors over for a game watching party (everyone likes football, right?). This time one of the five neighbors I invited said yes. Awesome! But when he only stayed for 10 minutes I realized that he only came because he felt sorry for me.

I am dejected. Disappointed. Slightly embarrassed now. I put myself out there (for Jesus) and now I just look like the guy who is desperate for friends.

“I have plenty of friends”, I reassure myself. The temptation now is to give up on my neighborhood. I tried right?……

If this (exaggerated) story resonates with you, here are three things you need to know.

1. Neighborhood mission is more like a marathon than a sprint.

What did you expect? Did you really think that because you are friendly toward people one time they will open their life to you and listen to you share how they need to repent and turn to Christ? I live in the suburbs, and in the suburbs people are incredibly self-sufficient. They have their friends, their money, their houses, their cars, their kids, their DVR, and their hobbies. They usually don’t have time in their life for new friends…especially the overly-friendly guy on the corner with cookies and an agenda.

Commit for the long haul. Understand that mission happens in seasons. You have to plow and sow before you can harvest. Listen and learn the story of your neighborhood. What do people value? What are the needs? Who are the people on the margins? Who sets the culture of the neighborhood? Prayer walk your neighborhood regularly.

 2. Be a really good neighbor first.

Being a good missionary starts with being a really good neighbor. Get involved in neighborhood events, attend HOA meetings if your neighborhood has them, play outside with your kids, etc. Every neighborhood is different and every neighborhood has a different definition of “good neighbors”. If you recently moved into a neighborhood you have a great advantage. As you meet your neighbors, ask them about the people who used to live in your house. Their answers will tell you what “good neighbors” are to them. As I have asked this question over the years I have heard things like:

-They were really nice couple that used to baby sit for us a lot…we were sad to see them move…

-They were loud and never mowed the grass…

-I don’t really know much about them, they never came out of their house…

If you have been in a place for a while, as new people move in, ask them about their old neighborhood. What were the things they liked and disliked about it? These answers will tell you how to be good neighbors. Being a really good neighbor opens up more doors for the gospel than cookies and random cookouts.

 3. Love people in a way that matters to them.

One big mistake that any missionary can make is to assume your preferences on to the people you are trying to reach. This is a mistake I’ve made many times. There is a reason that my neighbors didn’t respond to my cookouts and cookies. Cookouts and cookies didn’t matter to them. After several months of living next door to one neighbor, I observed that he was working every weekend. Money was tight, bills were barely getting paid, and his kid’s birthdays were both in December….along with Christmas. He didn’t have time to come to my cookout. My “missional living” didn’t matter to him…it wasn’t missional to him to because it didn’t communicate love to him. But when my wife and I bought birthday presents for both of his boys he broke down in tears. He couldn’t understand why we would do that. We got to tell him that Jesus calls us to be good neighbors, and this is what good neighbors do. It was a start….only because we loved him in a way that mattered to him.

I hope that these things help. Don’t give up. Press on. God has placed you in your neighborhood/apartment to use you. May the lost be found, Christ be proclaimed, and God be glorified among your neighbors!

*disclaimer…I love the guys at Verge!

5 Components of our Missional Communities

You can think of a missional community like a wheel with five spokes. When all five spokes are strong the wheel is able to move forward and do it’s job perfectly, with no weakness. In the same way, we have identified five components for our missional communities. When these components are all strong the missional community will grow healthy, growing as disciples and making new disciples. The five components of our missional communities are: the family meal, missional living, serving, DNA, and Sunday gatherings.

1. The Family Meal (Regular Meeting)

The family meal is the time when the missional community gathers to share a meal together with Jesus at the center. This time is different than grabbing a quick bite to eat at Rudy’s after work with some buddies. This meal is intentional in every way. We must make it clear that Jesus is who we are gathering around and he is the one who makes us a family. Encourage your people to have intentional, Christ-centered conversation while they eat. It is also important to use the family meal night as an opportunity to encourage one another, pray together, and cast vision for the mission of the group.

Some Ideas For The Family Meal:

  • Point people to Jesus early- Once everyone arrives be sure to get everyone’s attention and remind them that this night is about Jesus. Encourage them to share with one another what their week has been like following Jesus. Pray a big, Christ-centered pray before the meal to set people’s minds on Jesus.
  • Use “coffee/dessert time” to have more focused discussion– after the meal transition to the living room (send the kids to play in another room if you need to) and spend 15-20 minutes having focused discussion if you need it. Cast vision for mission, share a devotional from the scriptures, pray together, discuss what God is teaching you in DNA or on Sundays.
  • Be sure to keep it a “family gathering” not a small group bible study. This is important for the health of your MC.

2. Missional Living (Intentional Space)

Missional living is showing and sharing the gospel of Jesus Christ with those who are not yet believers. In order to ensure that missional living is happening in your missional community, you will need to create a “space” where you are intentionally looking to share and show the gospel to those your missional community is trying to reach. This intentional space should fit within the regular rhythms of your MC’s neighborhood or network. Perhaps it is a game night or cookout at your house where you invite neighbors or friends to join you. Or maybe a regular trip to the local park where you invite others, and look to build relationships and get to know new freinds. Whatever it is, your intentional space should be consistent, and your missional living should be relational, long-term, and low-key.

3. Serving Together

Serving isn’t just something we do and check off of our list. In fact, serving is a part of who we are as believers. We are servants of our King Jesus who calls us to care for the “least of these”, and reminds us that his Kingdom is for the poor, the sick, the needy. Every missional community should be regularly serving and meeting the needs of the needy. In the Suburbs this can be complex but here are a few ideas:

  • Kids at the local children’s home
  • Single moms in your neighborhood or network
  • Elderly and widowed in your neighborhood or network
  • Mentoring and serving at local schools

4. DNA

DNA is where we dig down deep in our care for one another as disciples. These are smaller groups of 3-4 (men with men and women with women). You must make it a goal to see every committed member of your missional community regularly participating in DNA. DNA isn’t just another thing, it is THE place where we are formed by God’s word, confess sin, and are committed to one another’s personal growth as followers of Jesus. DNA groups should be reading the scriptures together, meeting weekly, and caring for one another in a honest and sincere way. Below are some resources to help people with DNA:

5. Sunday Gatherings

Sunday gatherings are not just the “front door” of our church as others have said before. Sundays are a place for people who have been being the family of God and living on mission in a broken world to retreat and be renewed by the power and presence of God. We desperately need to be reminded of the truth of God’s word as it is preached. We need to be ministered to by the Spirit as we declare truth through singing. And we need to be reminded of the gospel as we share the Lord’s Supper with the greater Redeemer church. Sundays aren’t optional or second rate, they are the place where missional communities are encouraged, shaped by the Word of God, and recommissioned to the mission of making disciples every week. Here is a resource to help your missional community maximize and value Sundays: 5 Ways MCs Can Value Sundays

So What Now?

Now that you know these 5 components of healthy missional communities what do you do with all of this? This might seem overwhelming. How in the world can you get all of this into practice? We hope you will see that it’s not that complicated. Remember, missional community is about living out our Gospel Identity through Everyday Rhythms. It is more about gospel intentionality than it is about events on the calendar. Below is an example schedule of a missional community that is growing as disciples and making disciples through these 5 components. EXAMPLE: Missional Community Monthly Schedule

Giving our leaders these handles has help take a complex thing like missional community and simplified it in a way that is light weight and reproducible.

Hope this helps in your efforts to disciples where you are!

Tips and Ideas for the Weekly Meal

Sharing a meal together regularly is an important  piece to missional community life in Redeemer. It is through the meal that we have an opportunity to bless one another ever week, and it is over the meal that we have the opportunity to encourage one another toward Jesus and his mission. In fact, Jesus himself did a large majority of his ministry, discipleship, and mission over meals. Meals are significant, and when they are done well they can significantly affect the ministry of a MC. We have found that MCs with great weekly meals are usually growing healthy.

After multiplying a new missional community this month one of our best cooks/meal planners put together a list of ideas and tips for our new MCs. Thanks, Kelsey, for sharing your gift of hospitality and for sharing your ideas! Hope these meal ideas help your MC without hurting your waistline!

MC Meal Tips

  • Depending on the group, it usually works best to have whoever is hosting provide drinks and still sign up for something. (Water & Country time lemonade mix is cheap and works great)
  • Try and get the meal sign up out to everyone 4-5 days prior to the event so they have time to plan, can get their supplies on their grocery store trip, and so you can fill in the gaps or ask for extra help if no one has signed up.
  • Bring your best stuff, and other people tend to follow suit! It makes the meal so much better when everyone puts effort into it!
  • Be aware of meetings that you will have new people, or guests who you don’t expect to bring a dish…make your people aware so everyone can pitch in a little extra! We would never want a guest to feel like there isn’t enough food for them!
  • Reminder: Each Expression has money in the budget to provide plates, plasticware, cups, napkins, etc, so let your leaders know when you are close to needing more!

MC Meal Ideas

These meals have been set up for MCs with 12-15 adults and 5-6 kids. Below are meal ideas and a list of the items people can sign up to bring. 

Mexican Night

This can be a general theme, I’ll list a few other more specific ways to do Mexican

  • Main Dish
  • Main Dish
  • Tortilla Chips
  • Queso
  • Guacamole
  • Rice & Beans
  • Dessert
  • Drinks

Taco Night

Build your own soft or crispy tacos

  • Seasoned ground beef (2 lbs)
  • Shredded Chicken (2 lbs)
  • Black Beans & Shredded Cheese
  • Small tortillas & Taco Shells (30 tortillas, 12 crispy tacos)
  • Shredded lettuce, diced tomatoes (1 head of lettuce, 2 tomatoes)
  • Queso & Salsa
  • Guacamole (2 pints)
  • Tortilla Chips (2-3 bags)
  • Dessert
  • Drinks

Mexican Stack Up

This is basically a Mexican salad!

  • Seasoned ground beef (2 lbs)
  • Seasoned ground beef (2lbs
  • Fritos and/or tortilla chips (4 bags total)
  • Shredded lettuce, diced tomatoes, sour cream (3 heads of lettuce, 2 tomatoes, 10-15 oz of sour cream)
  • Shredded cheese (2 lbs)
  • Guacamole (1-2 pints)
  • Queso
  • Rice & Black Beans(optional)
  • Dessert
  • Drinks

Sandwich Night

Sandwiches can be boring, but add a few extra toppings and a panini grill and it can be a favorite!

  • Sandwich bread (2 loaves of wheat bread, add in a loaf of white if you have lots of kids)
  • Turkey (1-1 1/2 lbs)
  • Ham (1- 1 1/2 lbs not usually as popular as turkey, so you may want to double turkey instead)
  • If you have lots of picky kids you might want to throw in a jar of peanut butter!
  • Sliced Cheese (20 slices)
  • Mayo, Mustard (sometimes the host has plenty to share, so check with them before you make it a sign up
  • Leaf lettuce, Sliced Tomatoes, Sliced onions(1 head of lettuce, 2 tomatoes, 1/2 onion)
  • Sliced Avocados (5 avocados sliced)
  • Assorted Chips(3 bags)
  • Fresh Fruit Salad (if you need something healthy)
  • Dessert
  • Drinks


Everyone’s favorite! Breakfast for dinner!

  • Egg Main Dish (9X13 dish)
  • Egg Main Dish (9X13 dish)
  • Bread or Pastry Item (this allows for people to do muffins, cinnamon rolls, tea bread, donuts, etc.)
  • Bread or Pastry Item
  • Fresh Fruit (People usually just bring a big bowl and it works out great)
  • Bacon (1 lb)
  • Sliced Breakfast Sausage (1 lb)
  • Orange Juice & Apple Juice
  • Note* dessert isn’t needed for brinner because the pastries basically are!

Pancake Night

Have someone man the griddle and just start flipping! Kids looooove this night!

  • Pancake mix & corresponding ingredients( I usually bring 2-3 boxes and just mix it as we need it)
  • Syrup (1-2 bottles depending on size)
  • Butter( 1 tub is usually enough)
  • Bacon (1 lb)
  • Breakfast Sausage Slices (1 lb)
  • Fresh Fruit
  • Drinks
  • No dessert needed

Italian Night

This is just a broad category, we will do a few other specific themes as well

  • Main Dish (9X13 dish)
  • Main Dish ( 9×13 dish)
  • Green or Caesar Salad (Just list the number of people you think will have and most people can wing it)
  • French Bread/Italian Bread (1 loaf will generally feed 10-15 people)
  • Dessert
  • Drinks

Pizza Night

Mention that they can either pick up a pizza or bring a homemade one! This is a good theme when everyone has been busy and needs a break!

  • Large Pizza
  • Large Pizza
  • Large Pizza
  • Large Pizza
  • Large Pizza
  • Green Salad
  • Dessert
  • Drinks

Noodle Night

This can be a little tricky to keep the noodles in good shape, but it’s basically like a pasta bar!

  • Spaghetti noodles cooked with a little olive oil to keep from sticking(2 lbs)
  • Penne Noodles (2 lbs)
  • Any other noodle option you want (2 lbs)
  • Spaghetti/Meat Sauce
  • Alfredo Sauce
  • Green Salad
  • French Bread (1 loaf)
  • Dessert
  • Drinks

Grilled Cheese Night

Comfort food at it’s finest! You can also throw in a soup to switch it up!

  • Sliced Sandwich bread(3 loaves bread)
  • 20 Slices of a certain cheese (cheddar)
  • 20 slices of a different cheese (provolone or anything! they are good with several different cheeses)
  • Sliced Avocados (5 avocados)
  • Sliced tomatoes (2 tomatoes)
  • Bacon (1-2 pounds)
  • Dessert
  • Drinks

Cobb Salad Night

Build your own salad!

  • Head of romaine lettuce, washed and in salad sized bites (6-8 heads of romaine)
  • hard boiled eggs, diced, bacon pieces, diced tomatoes (10 eggs, 1 lb of bacon, crumbled, 2 tomatoes)
  • Sliced avocados (5-6 avocados)
  • Bleu cheese crumbles, feta cheese crumbles
  • Grilled chicken breast, diced, can be cold (4 breasts)
  • Thick sliced turkey deli turkey (1-2 lbs)
  • Bleu Cheese dressing, Ranch Dressing
  • Dessert
  • Drinks
  • Mac & Cheese or PBJ for kids

Appetizer Night

This is a great one for people to get creative! Just remember that people loove finger foods so have plenty of options and encourage people to make a decent amount. I usually just list off the number of appetizers we need and ask for them to reply with what they are bringing so not everyone shows up with a crockpot of queso.

  • Appetizer dish
  • Appetizer dish
  • Appetizer Dish
  • Appetizer dish
  • Appetizer Dish
  • Appetizer Dish
  • Appetizer Dish
  • Dessert
  • Drinks

BBQ Night

This can be an expensive one since meat is expensive, so don’t do it too often!

  • 2-3 lbs of BBQ chicken
  • 2 lbs of sausage
  • 1-2 lbs brisket or chopped beef
  • 1-2 lbs turkey breast
  • Potato Salad
  • Baked Beans
  • Corn or Creamed Corn
  • Dessert
  • Drinks

Favorites Night

Bring your favorite thing to cook!

  • Main Dish
  • Main Dish
  • Side Dish
  • Side Dish
  • Side Dish
  • Bread or Dinner Rolls
  • Dessert
  • Drinks

Soup/Stew Night

Great for the few cold nights we have!

  • Soup Option #1
  • Soup Option #2
  • Soup Option #3
  • Bakery Style Bread and Crackers
  • Dessert
  • Drinks

Frito Chili Pie Night

I mean who doesn’t love frito pie?!?

  • Batch of chili
  • Batch of chili
  • 3 bags of fritos, sour cream
  • 2-3 bags of shredded cheese
  • Mac N Cheese for kids
  • Dessert
  • Drinks

Baked Potato Bar

This is a easy one as long as you know someone(easiest for host) to bake all the potatoes

  • 18 baked potatoes(You can bake them and keep them in a cooler and they will stay hot!)
  • 2 lbs chopped BBQ beef
  • Sour cream, Shredded Cheese (16 oz sour cream, 2 lbs Cheese)
  • Bacon pieces & Chopped Green onions
  • Tub of Butter
  • Dessert
  • Drinks

Easter Dinner

Doesn’t have to be Easter!

  • Sliced Ham
  • Sliced Ham
  • Sliced Ham
  • Green Bean Casserole
  • Deviled Eggs
  • Mashed Potatoes
  • Dinner Rolls
  • Dessert
  • Drinks

Thanksgiving Dinner

Doesn’t have to be Thanksgiving!

  • Turkey
  • Turkey
  • Turkey
  • Green Bean Casserole
  • Sweet Potato Casserole
  • Mashed Potatoes
  • Cranberry Sauce
  • Dinner Rolls
  • Pumpkin Pie
  • Pecan Pie
  • Drinks

Asian Night

These dishes take some effort, but people can always do take out!

  • Main Dish
  • Main Dish
  • Fried Rice
  • Fried Rice
  • 10 egg rolls
  • 10 egg rolls
  • Dessert
  • Drinks

Comfort Food Night

Whatever you think is comfort food, bring it!

  • Main Dish
  • Main Dish
  • Side Dish
  • Side Dish
  • Bread
  • Drinks
  • Dessert

Burgers & Dogs

Great for a summer night with not much of an agenda because grilling does take more time!

  • 8-10 hamburger patties
  • 8-10 hamburger patties
  • 24 hot dogs
  • 24 hot dog buns & 24 hamburger buns
  • 20 slices of cheese, Mustard, Ketchup, Mayo
  • 1 head of lettuce, 2 sliced tomatoes, 1 sliced onion
  • 3-4 bags of chips
  • Dessert
  • Drinks