Launching Missional Communities

Hello friends, I know I promised a video, and there will be one coming soon, but I wanted to give everyone a bit of an update about what is going to be launching in September.

The Foundation for Missional Communities

There has been a lot of talk and positive momentum in our group around the idea of ‘missional community…’  but as I talk to people it sounds like there have been a lot of different ideas about what these are and what it’s going to look like, so I want to post this blog to help clarify what it is going to look like for us. To start off, missional community is being done in many different ways and in many different contexts. Because of this, the missional communities that we will be launching may look very different from other missional communities (MC’s) that you may hear about.

Jeff Vanderstelt, from Soma Communities in Tacoma, defines Missional community as:

A family of missionary servants who make disciples who make disciples

I like this definition as it speaks not only to the identity of those involved (family of missionary (sent) servants) as well as their purpose (making disciples who make disciples). Two of the commissions that Jesus made to His disciples specifically had to do with this notion of Making disciples:

Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with youalways, to the very end of the age.” –Matthew 28:19-20

But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” –Acts 1:8

The plan of God all along was that Jesus would leave after His time on the Earth, baptize (fill) his followers with the Holy Spirit, so that they would continue to make disciples (followers of Jesus) that make disciples. The word ‘witness’ in Acts is essentially understood as an ‘ambassador’ or ‘representative…’ to the point where the authoritative power of that person is transferred to the ‘witness.’ This is what we are called to as believers – to be literal representations of Jesus Christ on the Earth. In speaking of the mission (purpose) of the Church, Michael Frost simply defined this as:

Proclaiming and demonstrating the kingdom of God and the restoration of all things

Not only is this the mission of the church, I believe this is our mission as disciples who make disciples. As the Church, we need to proclaim (tell) and demonstrate (practice) the kingdom life. We need to do both. Not only are we called to serve the world with the love of Christ, we are called to invite them into the kingdom life, how life should be as a committed follower of Jesus. The above truths are absolutely foundational to missional community. In fact, Jeff Vanderstelt writes:

The missional community is the best context in which this can happen. Disciples are made and developed:

  1. through life on life, where there is visibility and accessibility
  2. in community, where they can practice the one anothers, and
  3. on mission where they learn how to proclaim the gospel and make disciples.

The purpose of Missional communities at McKernan is to create a context for which young adults can be a part of a family (community) in which disciple making is foundational to their identity. My hope is that each missional community would really start to feel like family on mission together (both to a common focus of mission as well as a specific area of mission (workplace, school, etc.). A really practical way to think about this is a covenant small group with a mission statement.

  • Covenant: Each member of the missional community is committing to be a part of this community for a period of time. Weekly gatherings are not a fun choice if their is nothing else to do, members decide that this is where they want to invest their time.
  • Small Group: Missional communities will be about 8-12 people each…
  • Mission Statement: While each missional community is going to have a unified mission statement (a group of disciple makers), each MC is also going to have a specific area of mission together, specifically preaching the gospel and demonstrating the kingdom in their shared context.

The idea is that our missional communities will become communities that love God, each other, and the world so much and in such a visible way that non-believers will see this and want to join us in seeing God’s kingdom come (and ultimately become disciples who make themselves).

So What is this Going to Look Like?

I have spent a lot of time wrestling with this question. McKernan is in an interesting place because of our proximity to the University of Alberta. Because of this, we have a LOT of students, which has made our young adult ministry almost reboot every year. As I was thinking about applying what I’ve written to our context there were a few things that were really important to me:

  • This is not a movement or a fad – it’s a way of life that many of us are committing to (it’s bigger than C&C)
  • The new model for C&C ministry would be sustainable year to year as well as postured for multiplication
  • New students would be able to plug in slowly if they choose (they don’t need to be committed to a weekly gathering as soon as they arrive.. there are still events that would facilitate and encourage newcomers to attend (without feeling on the outside))
  • C&C would have events in which non-Christians would feel welcome and belonging
  • Students in transition (out of C&C) would still be able to connect to the community in a meaningful way

With all of this in mind, and a lot of conversations with the core group at McKernan, the other leaders, and my mentors, here’s what I am thinking for C&C this year:

  • We would like to launch 4 missional communities with 3 leaders in each community
  • Each community will be based in a place, this place will be where they will focus their group mission
  • Each member of the community will (along with other members of the community) have their own mission (disciple making focus) along with the shared mission focus of the community (because many of us live all over the city, it is impossible for us to form communities solely based on where people live. While we still want our communities geographically focussed, we understand that someone who lives outside of the neighbourhood of McKernan may not have a heart for McKernan (or have McKernan a place that is commonly a part of their daily rhythm)).
  • The 4 geographical areas our communities will be based out of are: McKernan & surrounding neighbourhoods, University of Alberta, Garneau & Strathcona, and Whyte Ave from 109 st. to Calgary Trail.
  • Missional communities will meet weekly and go through a curriculum on seeing God’s kingdom come in our context
  • Each group will have one pastoral leader, one administrative leader, and one connecting leader
  • Each leader will have a co-leader that they are discipling, in hopes that next year we could multiply our groups
  • We will do 3 large events per month: Converge during the first Saturday, one large group fun event, and one serve night.
  • Group fun events and serve nights (A night where missional communities focus on their group mission in a way that we can invite the whole C&C group and others from the church) will be planned by a different missional community each month.
  • We will be seeking partnerships with organizations who will help us look at how we can see God’s kingdom come within our areas of mission in the areas of homelessness as well as social justice (both local and world-wide).

I think that’s all I have for sure so far. A lot will happen in August as we figure out who is leading what group and start to get people plugged in so in September we can really get the groups established (once the groups are established each one will have a lot of freedom as far as how they are shaped, when they meet, what their focus of mission is within their context etc.

If you have any questions please don’t hesitate to ask, I’m so excited about this!

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