WHY MISSIONAL COMMUNITIES ?
by Nathan Oliver 2015
It’s all about Jesus and who God has made us through him. That’s it.
In the lead up to planting The Church Next Door we had some ‘pre-meetings’ at our house with our planting team, they were the sort of meetings where people got to hear the crux of what the church is about; the things that they will be giving their blood, sweat and tears for. The task seemed daunting to me, I was a wide-eyed, idealistic, ‘never-even-worked-for-a-church-before’ kinda guy. It’s fair to say I was a little intimidated in the lead up to these meetings. I felt like a kid at his first day of school.
But it actually seemed simple enough. Over the year or two leading up to that time our core group had been able to whittle down what we thought should be the key elements of our church... we had a message - the gospel, we were in this together - as a community, and the main task we were compelled to focus on was to make disciples - a mission. Gospel. Community. Mission.
So I shared these things with our team over a few summer Sunday mornings, all squashed together in our tiny un-airconditioned living room. I told everyone that I believe that the Gospel, Community and Mission are the foundations that the Bible calls us to be about as a church. I shared my heart that longs to see a church grow and develop from Biblical convictions, rather than just what our experiences of church had been in the past, or how ‘that other church down the road’ does it. And I also admitted that I didn’t know exactly how we would do it or what it would really look like, but Gospel, Community and Mission would be foundations of our church.
The HOW question was the big one.
And it was a fairly layered question…
…how do you not just tell the gospel message but live it out? How do you proclaim the gospel from the context of living it out? How does that look if we are called as a community to do this? Is it possible to do that in our scheduled gathering times?
…how do you make disciples of Jesus who live out the gospel, even in the muck of our life, the unseen parts, and the ugly parts? Is it possible to do this well as we gather together for a couple of hours on a Sunday? In what ways will we need to be involved with each other to see this happen?
…how will we connect with those around us who don’t know Jesus? How will they get to see the gospel lived out amongst a community if they aren’t part of our gatherings on a Sunday? If Jesus is as good as we believe, how will others experience him through us tangibly?
…how do we worship together as a family of believers from Monday to Saturday - if we really believe we’ve been called together as a community?
Missional Communities (or Gospel Communities or whatever you want to call them…!) have answered the ‘how’ question for us. They have not been a silver bullet, nor will they be. But they have given shape to our Biblical convictions of Gospel, Community and Mission as far as how we live these out together as God’s church.
Following our conviction that discipleship must play out in a ‘life-on-life’ context, and that those lives are called to centre around Jesus, and that in doing so we get to be a display of an alternative, self-sacrificing, loving community - a community that displays the gospel… in response to these convictions we’ve pursued a missional community lifestyle.
But we won’t kid ourselves either - we are not talking about heaven on Earth! As long as there are nappies to change, bills to pay, broken relationships and broken hearts, we are fully aware that life is messy. I think what we are learning is that life with Jesus at the centre is not about escaping the mess, but trusting him from within it. And in so doing we recognise our need to depend on Jesus and our need for one another.
Jesus is Lord and worthy of our worship.
Our lives are messy and regularly reveal our need for a Saviour.
Missional Communities… this is our beautiful mess!