The Untaming

Learning to build missional community in secular France


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What our neighbour thinks

First thanks to Richard for allowing me to post on this blog. I’ll take some time to explain who we are in another post, but for the moment it’s enough to know that we’re a family on mission in France. I hope you find this first content useful.

We recently spent an evening in discussion (mostly listening) with a normal French woman regarding her views on Christianity, scripture and spirituality in general. Here is a brief report of what was shared. There may be no original ideas in all this, but I thought it could be a good to circulate further as my feeling is that these views are quite representative of a large part of the French population. I should clearly write this up in French too, and I hope to get round to that one day but it would take me too long right at this moment.

What is scripture for you? Where did these books come from?
 – Well Jesus was a great moral teacher with a influential way of life. Various texts were written about him, and the ones we have today as ‘scripture’ were selected by some central authority with an agenda to get people to believe what they wanted them to.
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Introducing James

I’d like to introduce you to my dear friend and inspiration, James, who will join me as an author on the blog from now on. We have been ‘partners in the gospel’ for over a decade now and he is pioneering a missional community in the northern suburbs of Paris.  So he is in an excellent position to continue this blog’s focus of “learning to build missional community in secular France”.  Look out for his posts coming in the near future!


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What Sunday morning football taught me about Missional Communities

About six months ago, a friend of mine wanted to get the local men together for a light-hearted football (soccer) game on Sunday mornings. I turned up for the first time last week (!) and found he had gathered a regular core of around 12-16 men who would turn up each week, out of a larger pool of players who would try to come when their schedule permitted. I realised that there were several lessons to take away for our Missional Community.

missional community lessons from football

How did he build this momentum? For the first few months, he really struggled to get enough players for even a five-a-side.   But he had a very simple approach that Continue reading


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Review of “Family On Mission” by Mike Breen and Sally Breen

family on mission review breenAs I said in my last post, I recently read two new books by the 3DMovements team.  I have reviewed Oikonomics and now turn my attention to Family On Mission (which you can buy on Amazon here), written by Mike Breen and Sally Breen.

The book comes out of the couple’s experience of leading churches and watching other pastors try to juggle family live with their ministry and mission.  Their conclusion: Family or mission is an impossible choice. Family and mission is unsustainably exhausting. Family ON mission – moving as a pack, inviting people into our lives and living an integrated life – made things manageable, fun and fruitful.

Content

The book is trying to correct the tendency to put all the “bones” of missionary discipleship in place (missional communities, huddles, etc.) in place without the texture (“skin”) of family on mission, because one without the other doesn’t work.  I agree with this – we often focus on the structure because it seems simpler to figure out, to our loss.

The book covers why the idea of “(extended) family on mission” is so important:  because God as Trinity is a family on mission, because we were created to be, because Jesus created a family on mission as his approach, and because our culture is longing for this mix of intimacy and purpose.  The book unpacks all of this in quite some depth, with the highlight being a fascinating exploration of Jesus’s rejection by his own family and his constitution of a new family on mission with the disciples and women followers.

The second part of the book provides a framework for understanding how a Continue reading


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Review of Oikonomics by Mike Breen and Ben Sternke

Oikonomics book 3DMOver the weekend I devoured two new books from Mike Breen and 3DM, so thought I would capture my thoughts on them here.

The name Oikonomics is a play on the words oikos (extended family) and economics.  The overall theme of the book is that the call of discipleship involves making wise investments to grow commonwealth – wealth that can be shared around – and not just financial wealth at that.

Jesus talked a lot about investments that grew 20, 50, 100-fold.  The book recognises that God does seek human flourishing in every sense of the world: people enjoying intimate relationships with God and others, unencumbered by sickness, abounding in creativity and ideas, and with resources to hand.  It is not a ‘prosperity gospel’ theology – equating financial wealth with spiritual wealth – and the authors address the pitfalls of ‘prosperity gospel’ at some length.

Jesus had much to say about how to flourish in life, and the book identifies five sorts of ‘capitals’ (types of wealth) and a perspective on how Jesus assigns different relative values to each of them. The book argues that the most important capital is Continue reading


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Missional Communities blog article

The wonderful people at the very helpful Missional Communities Blog have asked me to contribute an occasional article.   You can read my first article – a brief summary of our missional community’s development – on their site today.

To anybody who has stumbled across my site as a result of that article – welcome!  This blog (‘The Untaming’) is active, although I do post slightly sporadically, as I try to avoid running away with too much theory and want the blog to reflect our real learnings, successes and failures… which all takes time!

If you would like to sign up to email notifications when I do post content, please use the ‘follow’ button to the right.


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Missional Community Rhythms: Secret Sauce

This continues and wrap up (for now) this mini-series of posts on what we’ve learned over the last 3+ years about missional community rhythms. You can read the introduction, what we learned in year 1, year 2, year 3, and what we are finding now in year 4.

Over the last few years, we have struggled to find the right rhythm for our missional community. How do we give quality time to discipleship, to community AND to mission without overloading everyone’s diaries?

  • In year 1, we morphed from a classic home group approach to a missional community vision. We actually got going on the MC adventure, but changed too many things at once as we overcorrected toward an outwards focus at the expense of community and discipleship.
  • In year 2, we went back to basics and put discipleship and living daily on mission back on the agenda. This was worth doing and we did see an important change in perspective. I was frustrated that “my” plans for outward focused activities were not happening – even though we were deepening relationships with our friends and actually doing OUT in more organic ways.
  • In year 3, we discovered the power of focusing our attention on one innovation in our group pattern of meeting: a monthly Sunday family gathering in our case. But we felt people wanting to join us still had quite a barrier to jump over between our social gatherings and our ‘spiritual’ gatherings.
  • In year 4, we put together a schedule that we believe fits in with the rhythms of the people we know and that gives people events of progressive spiritual depth to join us at.

A very helpful set of articles by Todd Engstrom (do check out his blog!) clarified things for me. In a nutshell, he suggests “gather as family over a meal, as disciples in an LTG (Life Transformation Group, as defined by Neil Cole), and as missionaries in a third place.” I shamelessly took and expanded on a simple venn diagram that he drew to explain this, and you can see my version below.

Missonal Community Rhythms

This picture gave us a simple way to think through our rhythms.

Firstly, let’s look at the ‘third places‘ – natural, neutral and regular places where members

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