The Untaming

Learning to build missional community in secular France

The corporate practices of a gospel community

4 Comments

Having outlined the rationale and goals behind our launch of a gospel community, here are some thoughts about what this might look like in practice.  I will focus in this post around our corporate activities and practices; there is clearly a parallel set of ‘personal habits’ that I will cover later.

All this is clearly going to evolve, but here are our current thoughts.  Once again, your views would be welcome.

The monthly rhythm:

  • We undertake a simple act of service, together, once a month (being a blessing)
  • We meet to study and apply Scripture, twice per month. Once in a public space (for accessibility), once in a home (for hospitality) to share a meal.  Aim is to make this relevant to anyone in the spectrum of faith (connecting with God)
  • We host a celebration/party, once a month (sharing our lives)

Other activities:

  • We have a regular undercurrent of prayer/life-decisions/accountability (‘discipleship’, but that’s perhaps too churchy a word) sessions, organised by a different pair of people each week but open to all.  Enough of ‘prayer partners’ meeting in private! (connecting with God)
  • We have an occasional ‘Sunday brunch’ including the breaking of bread (connecting with God, sharing our lives)

Needless to say, these are just the practical events side of what is supposed to be a growing community life.  But it helps to see what practically might be going on.

All the events/activities are actively seen as open to all, as events to include both Christian and non-Christian friends.  We want to avoid a ‘two track’ process where ‘insiders’ do ‘special spiritual things’ that ‘outsiders’ don’t get to see or participate in.

How does that sound? Too complex, too much?  Unbalanced in terms of focus? Just right?

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4 thoughts on “The corporate practices of a gospel community

  1. I can really see where you’re coming from, and think it’s awesome what you’re starting off: I think that it’s a giant step towards re-becoming an authentic Christian and not a “meeting attender”.

    One thing that I find is missing in light of the Bible’s example of how the early Church lived (which seems quite similar to what you’re trying to explore here) is a focus on a ministry of works of power. This was the apostles main focus, along with preaching Christ crucified. They went around healing people. That’s actually what Luke really focuses on, and I would really want to encourage you to (re)-discover this essential aspect of Gospel living: Peter & John, when faced with the crippled man in front of the Temple (Acts 3), didn’t say to him : “I have no money, but what I have I give to you: there’s a charity shop just down the road: they’ll give you clean clothes. Here’s their address”. Nor did he say “what I have I give to you: Jesus-Christ died for you, your sins are washed clean, you can have a relationship with the Father and spend eternity in His glorious presence”. Here’s what Peter & John did do: “Silver or gold I do not have, but what I have I give you. In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, walk.”

    What do you say? I find that that takes us out of our comfort zones even more, but that is maybe one step further down the line: deal with individualism and consumerism first, and then deal with rationalism perhaps… Take it through the gears!

    See yaz!!

  2. Dear Brothers and Sisters,

    I thank and praise God for your faith as you start this new community.

    You identify three areas where you say “We need the help of God…” as you face-up to the challenge of living as a gospel community. You should look out for (and thank God for) times when your need his help as signs of your discipleship. If after a while you’ve not needed God’s help much then you probably need to look for some ways of getting into a bit more difficulty…

    Make sure all your “sharing” and “togetherness” doesn’t become a stumbling block to Introverts in your group. I expect sharing and opening your discipleship sessions will make true accountability more difficult for some people, even if the aim of inclusiveness is a good one.

    I would say that the leaders of your community need to have times of prayer, repentance and accountability which are “insiders-only”. Take the transfiguration, or Gethsemane if you need biblical precedents for the exclusiveness…

    Just a few thoughts – I expect I’ll have some more! 🙂

    For the Glory of God – just be it!

    James

  3. Thanks guys for the thought-provoking comments. Nathan, you are right that we should expect a few miracles; I would hope that such ‘works of power’ will emerge in the context of a missional movement.

    James, I’m keen for your advice on how Introverts experience community life and how practically to mix their need for depth with the need to be inclusive. Your point about Gethsemane or the transfiguration is well-taken; I had been pondering the idea of a ‘core team’ but rejected it on the grounds of exclusiveness; however, I think I am coming back to the idea that leadership and vision is kept to those who are called to a deeper membership of the community, expressed through a commitment to its core corporate and personal practices. Rather like monastic communities had different levels of commitment. Anyone can participate, but leadership, direction and vision is ‘safeguarded’ to those accountable by way of the ‘rule of life’ outlined above.

    I’ll try to blog about that after more thinking and discussion!

  4. Have thought about this a bit more, and I see at least two areas where Innies may rub up against Outies in a gospel community. Just have the time tonight to write a few lines about one of them.
    Stranger = danger. New people, changing group dynamics, and uncertainty about people’s commitment will make Introverts hesitant to share and invest. You can help them by not sticking them into one-on-ones with new arrivals, and where possible by warning them if a new person is going to be turning up.

    Of course I’m just an extrovert studying Introvertology ;->, so if there are any introverts out there that want to make better suggestions or give more insights about how you experience community life then please go for it

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