This continues the short series of posts on how we have practically tried to organise our Missional Community diary. As I have said, if you mention ‘rhythms’ or ‘schedule’ to people in our missional community they will probably roll their eyes. We’ve tried a number of things and had several false starts.
How do you transition from home groups/small groups to a missional community approach? How do you move from a weekly Bible Study meeting to the sense of an extended family on mission together? Well, that was our challenge. So here is the story of…
YEAR 1 – Making far too many changes at once
Before we morphed our home group into a missional community, we had a pretty classic structure. We were meeting every Monday night for a meal, Bible Study and a bit of prayer. Easy, simple. Lots of UP, some IN… but not much OUT (see here if you don’t know what I’m on about with UP/IN/OUT).
In mid 2010 we decided to get going on the missional community journey and wanted to get a better balance of UP, IN and OUT activities. We moved to meeting every second Monday (once in one of our homes, once in a bar), then having weekend events (parties, acts of service) at various times on alternate Saturdays and Sundays. The great thing was we made a definite shift from the home group mentality. However, we only managed to keep it up for six months or so before we had to change things because people were getting, frankly, frazzled!
- Rhythm: Meeting two Mondays per month to plan and pray, plus around two other events on various Saturdays and Sundays in the month.
- Verdict: People got a bit confused. Lots of OUT, but UP and IN suffered (we over-corrected).
Learning: Don’t try to change everything at once! Make incremental changes in rhythm and bed them in before adding the next thing. There were too many new and quite complicated things at once and too many issues to think about and plan. What was the aim of each event? Who was preparing it? What was the agenda/programme? Who should be invited? In the end, I think we did too much planning (and lost discipleship and community focus as a result) and too little planning (because there was so much we had to think about at once!). So things weren’t well planned even though we spent lots of time trying to figure out what was coming up!
If I was doing it again, I would have made one small shift to being more outward-focused to start with. My fault for reading too many books on what missional communities should look like, and not seeking God enough on the matter.
What’s been your experience of changing group rhythms to become more outward-focused? I’d love to hear any war stories!
In the next post, I’ll explain the changes we made in year 2, and the progress we saw.