How can a gospel community be inclusive without being spiritually lukewarm? The question is pertinent as I’ve seen this syndrome in some more traditional churches, where the church is very much a part of its local community, but no longer provides a prophetic counter-point to it. I think it is all about leadership. What are the minimum requirements for a leadership position? Often this is as simple as being on the membership list or electoral roll, but that often doesn’t count for much in terms of how someone is following Jesus closely or not.
I have come to see the gospel community model in almost a monastic sense. This is strongly influenced by the model laid out in The Tangible Kingdom by Hugh Halter and Matt Smay, as well as my experience of the Northumbrian Community:
- The community is about mission and the core of the community is a band of people who have been called to this ancient way of missional living in the context of the community. This is expressed through commitment to the principles of the community (individual and corporate practices) and mutual accountability. This band of people also forms the leadership base.
- Anyone else is welcome to join in the journey and participate in the community activities as a guest. But the vision-casting and leadership roles belong to the core mission team.
I guess the core mission team needs some kind of occasional event for them only. I wonder what that would look like – knowing that most of the community life is supposed to be lived out openly…?