Both are buzzwords in Christian culture, but what does it look like in practice?
In practice, Missional Community, looks a lot like being a unique part of a great big healthy but quirky extended family. And this family is moving. They have purpose and passion for living and illuminating with their own lives, the unfolding story of God. An authentic Missional Community tells this story best collectively, to provide a symphony of differing but unified hopeful notes in a world of hopeless clanging cymbals. This family, at its best, doesn't coerce others into adopting and embodying this story, but they gently and lovingly portray the truth and wisdom of the Christian story in the rhythms of their everyday life.
They believe redemption is possible. They pray for God to restore. They join God in restoring.
When we lean into this Missional Community we find belonging and purpose. We become representatives and spokespeople with our lives to tell an alternate story: (i.e. the one about turning the other cheek, standing up against injustice, forgiving, loving, taking sin seriously, tearing down needless boundaries, and praying for those who persecute us). We find a place that we can live more fully into the person God created us to be. The family of God, at its best, challenges us, nurtures us, encourages us and helps us to come fully alive.
Then in our collective journey, as a family, we invite and include people who are either outright or somewhat skeptical about the possibility of this alternative way. We share our lives with people who are suspicious, so that they might: 1) belong and find acceptance in a healthy family 2) so that they might believe in the story God has been telling since the creation of the world - the story that redemption is possible and finally 3) so that they might add their personal note to the symphony of creation which proclaims the goodness and power of God, through Christ.
One of the many reasons churches fail to maximize their potential is because they fail to set clear goals and work collaboratively towards that end. In a world filled with distractions it is quite easy for us to veer off of our intended course.
However, as I watched the two playoff games yesterday, I was reminded how clearly each team understood their goal. Score more points than the other team. It's that simple.
A couple weeks ago, I joined a Mastermind group with a couple of colleagues in order to maximize my time as a husband, father, church planter and individual in order to strategically focus on the things that matter most.
The primary focus for me in 2016, as it relates to being the Pastor of Reactivate Church, is to make disciples. So the question is: Are people in my sphere of influence choosing to follow Jesus more closely? Do they love like Jesus? Serve like Jesus? Give like Jesus? Live like Jesus? And am I doing those things as their servant leader? It's that simple.
My family and I moved to North Charlotte a few months ago, with little more than the blessing from The United Methodist Church, some furniture, and a vision of seeing people reconciled to God through Christ. While I frequently touted the motto, "you cannot microwave relationships," to potential partnering churches, I anticipated that somehow we would quickly find a dozen or so mature disciples that would help champion the vision that God planted in our hearts. We unashamedly begged acquaintances, friends, family, and people in our spheres of influence to uproot their lives and join us in this adventure.
Over the last several weeks, it has become clear that the gestation period for this vision is going to take longer than my impatient self would care to admit.
You cannot microwave a church, a God-sized vision, the birth of a baby, corn from the ground or barbecued ribs. While it would be easy to get discouraged, there is a nagging reassurance from the Spirit of God to keep tilling, keep planting and keep waiting.
Last night, we threw a Neighborhood Christmas Party in our house and invited everyone in our nearby community. I was amazed by the turn out and the neighbors we haven't met yet who showed up on our doorstep with an appetizer. One of the ladies that came engaged in conversation with me about my grill/smoker in the backyard. I told her I didn't have much experience with smoking meats and that we usually just used it for grilling. She reassured me that it was easy if you remembered the motto, "slow and low." What a timely motto for this new church plant: "slow and low."