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

Brinner

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

Being Intentional With Our Schedule

Recently my wife Lauren and I started having a weekly sync up meeting where we pray together and plan out our week. We found that its all too easy for our schedule to get out of rhythm and before we know it we are not sure what we are doing and why we are doing it. During our time we discuss the upcoming week, prayerfully consider how God is leading us to invest ourselves, and syncup our schedules.

I created a basic guide to help us work through this. We fill out the guide each week and then post it somewhere in the house as a reminder.  It has greatly helped our communication with one another and also helped us stay focused on living in the everyday with gospel intentionality.

LINK TO THE GUIDE

Resources for Everyday Rhythms

Over the past few months we have been teaching through a series called Redeemer Basics.  Here are a few resources we created during that series to help our people bring gospel intentionality to the everyday rhythms of life.

Teaching Audio
Rhythms – Eat & Celebrate
Rhythms – Listen & Story
Rhythms – Bless & Work/Rest

Print Resources (1 Page Guides with Practical ideas)
Rhythms – Eat & Celebrate
Rhythms – Listen & Story
Rhythms – Bless & Work/Rest

Redeemer Basics Manual
We also had the chance to finish up some revisions on our Redeemer Basics Manual which is the core curriculum we use for our Basics Class.

Hopefully some of these resources will be helpful for you as you work things out in your own context.

Equipping the Saints: Push vs Pull

Equipping the saints for the work of the ministry is hard. One of the things that makes it so hard is that there is so much equipping to do! We need to teach people to read their bibles, share their faith, love their spouse, raise their children, pray, work and rest unto the Lord, live on mission…..the list could go on and on. So where do we start? And how do we get to all of this with an ever changing group of people in all different stages of life and maturity?

One thing that has helped me is to think of equipping through the lenses of PUSH versus PULL. What I have learned is that while “push” is important, “pull” is the most effective way to equip people for life and mission in the everyday. Here is a breakdown of push versus pull.

PUSH equipping is “pushing” information into people who need it. They may or may not know that they need this information, but we know they need it, so we are going to give it to them. Most push equipping is done in theory, disconnected from real experiences and people. The idea behind push equipping is– let’s teach them how to do it so they will know, and they won’t fail. Example: a class that trains people to share their faith.

PULL equipping is “pulling” people into the information they know they need. Pull equipping is connected to real experiences and real people, and only happens when you have called people to do something that you know they cannot do on their own. The idea behind pull equipping is– let’s call them to do it, let them fail, and then equip them when they doExample: training people to share their faith (with specific people) because they want to or have tried, but don’t know how.

Think about pre-marital counseling. It is helpful and needed for any couple…but it is primarily just good information prior to marriage (push). Let someone be married for a few years, realize they need help, and then give them that help…and it is equipping for marriage (pull). 

What this looks like…

One year ago I realized that the majority of the people in my MC had very few relationships with non-believers. So I began to call us to cultivate relationships with those who are far from Jesus. We threw neighborhood parties, committed to pray for new friendships, and committed to bringing intentionality to the ones we had. We did this for a year. It was awesome. Two weeks ago during our family meeting I asked the question, “how are we doing at sharing the gospel with the people God has placed in our lives?” The answer…not good. One person even said, “I feel like I don’t know how to say it (the gospel) in their language“. 

I wasn’t discouraged by this at all. My response was, “Awesome! It’s my job to teach you to do that.

Now I get to give food to people who are hungry for it. They have real people and real situations to apply it to. They will digest it.

With only push equipping, people might never be hungry for it. It’s just another can to put in the pantry for later…incase they need it.

I am thankful to my friend, Mark, who coached me through my frustrations last month and helped me see that I needed to do less pushing and more pulling as I equipped the saints for the work of ministry. 

Takeaways From My Week at Soma School

Last week my wife and I made our first trip to the beautiful Pacific Northwest to spend a week learning from Soma Communities. “Soma School” is a week long immersion into the life of Soma Tacoma, a church that has had major influence on what we are doing at Redeemer. The week included lots of teaching from Soma’s leaders, sharing meals with the people of Soma, interacting with other church planters from around the world, a house concert, and experiencing missional community life. I’ve got an entire moleskin full of things that I learned last week, but here at my top 3 takeaways.

1. Soma is messy. I mean this in the most positive way possible. In fact, this was the most encouraging thing I took away from the week. There is no squeaky clean method when it comes to leading missional communities and making disciples of your neighbors. Anyone coming to Soma School hoping to get a “handbook to missional communities” left empty handed. There is no such thing within Soma. Instead we got to see both paid and unpaid leaders who believe in the power of the Gospel and trust in the work of the Spirit. There is certainly structure to Soma, but it’s a structure that you can’t see or feel. Instead you see and feel a people who are being changed by Jesus and are intentionally sharing Him with others around them. Hanging out with Soma felt freeing, fun, sincere, and messy. The difference between Soma and most of us is…they don’t hide their mess. They use it as a way to point to Jesus. 

2. I’m a “methodolator”. It is easy for church planters and pastors to fall in love with methodology. When you start to love a method of church more than the savior and head of the church you are committing “metodolatry”. God showed me I have been guilty. Thankfully at Soma School we spent more time talking about who God is and what He has done (the Gospel), rather than talking about what we should do (methodology). This was good for my heart and ignited my love and passion for the Triune God. 

3. I was schooled in hospitality. From the moment that we arrived in Tacoma we were greeted with hospitality. Our hosts for the week, Mark and Roseanne, excelled in hospitality. Everything that was theirs was ours for the week. They were thoughtful, kind, and treated us like family. They not only cooked us meal after meal, but opened their life to us. There is a culture of hospitality amongst the people of Soma wasn’t just a show for us. Every morning the homeless who were sleeping on the doorsteps of Soma’s building were woken up with a smile and a warm cup of coffee. The city of Tacoma felt the hospitality as the whole church came together to clean up a local park. The waiters and waitresses in Tacoma experienced hospitality as every person I shared a meal with tipped like crazy. I was reminded of how much the little things matter when it comes to creating a “gospel-culture”; and hospitality is a little thing that’s a huge thing.  

If you are planting a church or intrigued by missional communities I encourage you to look into Soma School. God is doing some exciting things through @WeAreSoma throughout North America.

How To Think Missionally

Before we can do mission we have to learn to think mission. Missional living starts with missional thinking. And before we can think mission we must have a missional heart. Missional thinking starts with a missional heart, and a missional heart comes from our union with Christ. It is the everyday reality that the life I experience in Christ today, is only because Jesus was sent for me that moves our hearts, minds, and hands toward mission. Jesus’s heart was for me. Jesus thought of me. Jesus re-oriented his life me.

So how do we start thinking missionally?

  1. Press into your union with Christ. Stop trying to do so much “mission” for Jesus and start walking with Jesus. Jesus Christ is a person we know and a person we share. He is not an idea or a new way of living. It is only when we know Jesus that we live differently and think differently about the world. If you are struggling with missional living it is most likely because you are trying to think like Jesus and live like Jesus without knowing the person of Jesus first. Missional living and missional thinking flow from our union with Christ.
  2. Ask…How can I bring life to the mundane? When our union with Christ is rich we experience the abundant life that Jesus promised. This is what Paul prays for the Ephesian believers in Ephesians 3:14-19, that Christ would dwell richly in your hearts…that you may be filled with all the fullness of God. As we know Christ and find abundant life in him, we share and show the abundance. So we must ask ourselves often…How can I bring life to the boring and mundane around me. Your workplace? Your neighborhood? Your apartment complex? Your family gatherings? Here is an example. Next weekend my neighborhood is having it’s yearly neighborhood garage sale. We are new to the neighborhood. Our neighbors don’t know Jesus. Garage sales are often boring, mundane, and a hassle. My wife and I must ask ourselves and the Holy Spirit a question: How can we share the abundance of life that Christ brings us as we interact with neighbors? We then listen and obey. For us, this looks like going out of our way to provide a fun game for neighborhood kids to play in our yard while their parents are shopping around. We become the fun house. The open house. The house where there is life and joy and Jesus.
  3. Don’t do it alone. Most stories that I hear of people trying to live missionally and failing are people who are doing it alone. But just inviting people into your missional activity won’t cut it. If you do this other Christians will just show up and watch you live on mission without every joining you. You must invite other Christians to join you in your union with Christ and your missional thinking. You must know the person of Christ together with others. And as you know the person of Christ together, you will start thinking how you can share the person of Christ together. This is a gospel-community on mission. This is also discipleship.

We will only live missionally when we think missionally. And we will only think missionally when we have missional hearts. And we will only have missional hearts when we are experiencing union with Christ.

May God give you great union with Jesus through the Spirit, a missional heart, creative missional thinking, and fruitful missional living!

Shepherding a Missional Community

As I have been leading a missional community the past few months I have often wondered what it looks like to shepherd my people faithfully. Often I have been caught looking to the ideas and actions of others to be my guide(which is helpful) but recently was convicted that the best way to faithfully shepherd my missional community was to spend some time discerning the way God shepherds me. No man can lead or shepherd people as effectively as God but he is our example and as he loved us we should seek to love and lead others. Here are some simple metrics to know if you are shepherding your people faithfully!

1.The good shepherd Knows the flock.(John 10:3-5)
- He knows his sheep and is known BY his sheep (John 10:14)

In fact, a good shepherd was so intimately involved with the care and the nurture of his sheep that he had names for them, and he would call them by name. His sheep followed him out because they knew him.”-R.C. Sproul

Do you know your people? Are you known by your people? It is safe to say if you don’t know your people and aren’t known by them(warts and all) your  missional community will stay at a surface level and people will miss out on the family they  were created to know and love.

2.A shepherd Leads the Sheep(Psalm 23)
- A Shepherd causes the flock to rest. (psalm 23:2, 1 Samuel 1:7, Jeremiah 33:12)
- A shepherd guides people in paths of righteousness. ( Psalm 23)

 Are your people being pointed to Jesus? It is easy to point people to good works, morality, or even missional activity without actually pointing them to Jesus. When we are pointed to Jesus we can rest in his finished work and continue to be motivated towards holiness.

3. A Shepherd Protects the flock.(1 Samuel, Psalm 23)
- A shepherd defends or protects the flock against attack ( 1 Sa 17:35)

Are you on guard against false teaching or apathy towards sin? You certainly can’t protect them from everything but if you are not praying for them as well as calling out sin within your community this can be a recipe for disaster.