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. Why not read the introduction and see what mistakes we made in year 1?
YEAR 2 – Back to Basics
As a result of our changing too much at once, by early 2011 we felt that we were spending too much time with crowds and not enough on maintaining community and discipleship, so we moved to meeting three Mondays a month (a ‘huddle’ for discipleship, a meal, then another huddle) and one Sunday afternoon for mission and service.
However, in reality, the Sundays didn’t really happen. We did a couple of things but nothing really stuck – mainly I think because we hadn’t landed on a simple and replicable idea – and also because people still weren’t use to putting non-Monday events in their diary!
Also, a couple of key families in the group also had babies in that period, so things slowed down naturally.
As a result we were back to UP and IN, not much OUT it seemed… I found it quite frustrating as we seemed to be so far from the vision – and when I described our “missional community” to a friend she said “sounds like a home group to me!” which was gutting!
EXCEPT… that things were happening after all, things I wasn’t really celebrating and valuing enough:
- We did experiment with ways to share our lives in different ways. So Saturday mornings at the local toy library were a good place for us to hang out and invite people to. It was mainly social, but OUTwards focused too and it did help us build inclusive community. Looking back it was a significant development in the life of the group.
- Also during this time a couple of the women in our group were running a parenting course with some of their friends (…a group that morphed into a Bible study!) that was a great outward activity right under our noses, that we didn’t really value as much as we should have.
So it felt frustrating but looking back it was God’s timing and it encouraged us to focus on discipleship, to really understand the implications of a more missional lifestyle, and to get more organic with relationship-building.
- Rhythm: three Mondays a month (discipleship ‘huddle’ – meal together – and another ‘huddle’) – plus informal ‘life together’
- Verdict: Important time of investment in ‘the team’ and building a sense of being an extended family on mission – and in building relationships with friends and neighbours.
Learning: Give people plenty of time to change their perspectives and start thinking as missionaries. Look for what is already happening and support and value that – perhaps you don’t need to change as much as you might think! Definitely include a small bit of outward focus together, but do keep vision-casting and discipling the team on a regular basis. Material like Building A Discipling Culture is very helpful here.
For that outward focus, I suggest you find an easy “natural, neutral, regular” third place for the group to invite their friends to. I think we would have more successful if we had just focused on one easy outward thing such as being more regular at the toy library on Saturdays.
In the next post, I’ll explain what happened in year 3 as we tried to restore more outward-focused rhythms.