The Untaming

Learning to build missional community in secular France

Lessons from a year of missional community, part 3


Picking back up the series on what I’ve learned in a year of trying to build missional community (see previous posts here and here).  The third learning point is:

3. Discern the vision groupings

Reconfiguring existing groups around missional vision seems to be a necessity.

I recently heard of a home group at the church in the UK who wanted to become more outward-focused. A great idea. They are thinking of serving once a month at a local old people’s home. Again, a fine idea if it can get off the ground.  My suspicion, however, is that it will be hard to put into practice.  Some people in the group frankly won’t have much interest in that particular area of service.  Many will find it hard to make the time.  Others will start enthusiastically but find it hard to sustain over the year.   Unless the group has ‘serving the old people’s home’ as its primary focus, it’s going to feel like a (worthy) bolt-on to the ‘main thing’ and people’s diaries will start screaming ‘stop’!

In Paris, we had the same issue: our home group was unable to make the transition outwards due to different visions and passions.  People had joined for different reasons and we couldn’t get united around an area of service or witness.  Result: stuck in the prayer/Bible study quadrant.

Now, in Maisons-Laffitte when we started to transition our home group to a missional community focus we encountered some of this too.   Although people were pretty on board for the new vision, after a while it became clear that our group harboured a few different mission callings.  Some of us felt called to our local neighbourhood; other (who live further afield) had their own mission contexts at work or home.  Although we wanted to have a critical mass and all be focused on one area, in reality we actually had a few different visions.

As a result, we are having to figure out how to reconfigure and focus on a smaller, geographically local missional community and a larger, more occasional huddle/training group to help others process their life in the light of their missional calling.  This is not easy, but I suspect this reconfiguring is going to be needed in a number of churches who are trying to transition home groups to missional communities.

Alex Absalom suggests 3 ways to help people understand the missional community that is right for them.  In our situation, where we are a pioneering group with no other MCs in our area, our issue has been that we thought being ‘mission minded’ was enough of a glue. It isn’t.  People do need to be released to serve the people God has impassioned them about.

2 thoughts on “Lessons from a year of missional community, part 3

  1. Interesting Richard, we started with a group that were not already meeting. We started with a group that came together to pray about mission and what God was calling us to do in our community. When we came up with Welcoming Strangers, those who were not called fell away and we ended up with 10 of those 10 only 6 are still participating.

  2. Pingback: Lessons from a year of missional community, part 4 « The Untaming

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