It’s been about six months (once you factor out the long French summer) that we made the move from home group to Gospel community / Missional community. Last week we asked the core team for feedback and last night we tried to structure the thoughts and make some simple plans for the next six months.
Let me share what we came up with:
The positives and encouragements:
- We did it and actually got going! As somebody who is better at thinking of new ideas than doing them this is very encouraging.
- We started to be much more intentional about living our everyday lives as a ‘sent people’ with a message to take to our culture.
- A couple of us started a weekly LTG (Life Transformation Group – do a web search for more details) which has been a powerful growth tool
- The vision for our identity as “a spiritual family sent to share Jesus” is growing.
- We had some fun parties, picnics, walks in the park and so forth, and friends came along. We had a few service opportunities which helped us to roll up our sleeves.
- Our missional vision has started to crisp up, with a focus on internationally-minded young families in our broad geographic area PLUS the notion of being an extended family (and therefore having the ability to adopt “cousins, aunts, uncles, nephews, nieces and grandparents” – in other words we will focus on being good news to families but are happy for anyone to join us.
- I’ve managed to connect with a couple of people who have experience in doing this kind of thing in other countries, and who are happy to provide some coaching. This is very encouraging as we were feeling very much at the “knowingly incompetent” phase and some outside perspective will be very helpful.
The difficulties and challenges:
- Our monthly rhythm (trying to balance upwards, inwards and outwards dimensions) was far too complicated and everyone got lost trying to keep up. Meeting on every other Monday night (in one of three locations), then having weekend events at various times on alternate Saturdays and Sundays felt anything but simple and natural.
- The core team has not yet grown. In some ways we ARE at critical mass but in some ways a few extra core team members would really help the dynamics.
- Two of the group have been doing almost all the inviting. The whole group is not yet bringing non-Christian friends into the mix.
- We didn’t have enough face time with each other. Although the rhythm still had one event per week, it was more complicated for everyone to make each slot.
- In all the outward focus we overcorrected and didn’t spend enough time in natural, inclusive community. Rather than hanging out as a group and inviting other friends to join us, we invited so many people that the “family feel” got a bit lost.
- We also didn’t serve each other enough and make community tangible on a weekly/daily basis. The ‘trellis’ of events was too spaced out and complicated to support the ‘vine’ of growing natural relationships. Examples – people were sick and we found out after they were better; people moved house and we found out on the day (too late to lend a hand). This isn’t the fault of those people but is a symptom of a weak inwards dimension. We need to love and care for each other more.
- A stronger focus on discipleship, prayer and helping people live out this call to a missional life in practice is also needed. We were focused a bit too much on finding things to do (service and parties!) and took our eye off the discipleship ball. Also, some work is needed to help everyone in the group understand their own sense of calling and their own gifting and role that they are called to play.
- I didn’t lead the group as I should have. In particular, I should have been leading ‘from the front’ in terms of giving a clear direction and setting an example whereas I ended up processing my ongoing thoughts about how to make things work with the whole group, adding unnecessary confusion and noise.
Overall, I was pleased to be reminded of the good positives as it is so easy to vividly see all the negatives! We are on a journey with God here and I remain convinced that God is calling us to pioneer as we try to reach our corner of secular France with the good news about Jesus. We are novices and are going up the learning curve, but we ARE learning!
I will summarise the action points for the next 6 months in a forthcoming post.