The Untaming

Learning to build missional community in secular France


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Missional Community Rhythms: Secret Sauce

This continues and wrap up (for now) this mini-series of posts on what we’ve learned over the last 3+ years about missional community rhythms. You can read the introduction, what we learned in year 1, year 2, year 3, and what we are finding now in year 4.

Over the last few years, we have struggled to find the right rhythm for our missional community. How do we give quality time to discipleship, to community AND to mission without overloading everyone’s diaries?

  • In year 1, we morphed from a classic home group approach to a missional community vision. We actually got going on the MC adventure, but changed too many things at once as we overcorrected toward an outwards focus at the expense of community and discipleship.
  • In year 2, we went back to basics and put discipleship and living daily on mission back on the agenda. This was worth doing and we did see an important change in perspective. I was frustrated that “my” plans for outward focused activities were not happening – even though we were deepening relationships with our friends and actually doing OUT in more organic ways.
  • In year 3, we discovered the power of focusing our attention on one innovation in our group pattern of meeting: a monthly Sunday family gathering in our case. But we felt people wanting to join us still had quite a barrier to jump over between our social gatherings and our ‘spiritual’ gatherings.
  • In year 4, we put together a schedule that we believe fits in with the rhythms of the people we know and that gives people events of progressive spiritual depth to join us at.

A very helpful set of articles by Todd Engstrom (do check out his blog!) clarified things for me. In a nutshell, he suggests “gather as family over a meal, as disciples in an LTG (Life Transformation Group, as defined by Neil Cole), and as missionaries in a third place.” I shamelessly took and expanded on a simple venn diagram that he drew to explain this, and you can see my version below.

Missonal Community Rhythms

This picture gave us a simple way to think through our rhythms.

Firstly, let’s look at the ‘third places‘ – natural, neutral and regular places where members

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Missional Community Rhythms: Opening Up

This continues the short series of posts on how we have practically tried to organise our Missional Community diary.  It’s been quite a learning curve with a fair few mistakes along the way. This is what we are trying in year 4: why not start by checking out the introduction and what we learned in year 1, year 2 and year 3?

MC Rhythms Year 4

YEAR 4 – Opening up

In mid 2013, we re-planned again for the coming academic year (as families with kids our years revolve around the school calendar).  We planned to revert to three Monday nights and one Sunday afternoon per month: keep the “Sunday celebration” format we had pioneered the year before, reserve one Monday for prayer and for planning the Sunday celebration and then have a meal on one Monday and a Bible Study on the other. We are also encouraging people to be part Continue reading


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Missional Community Rhythms: The Power Of Focus

This continues the short series of posts on how we have practically tried to organise our Missional Community diary.  We’ve tried various ways to schedule the organised part of our life together, as well as encourage the organic and spontaneous shared life to emerge.  It’s been quite a learning curve with a fair few mistakes along the way. Why not read the introduction and see what we learned in year 1, and again in year 2?

MC Rhythms Year 3

YEAR 3 – The power of focus

By mid 2012, after two years of the MC, we re-planned our diaries again and made three changes.

Firstly, we introduced a once-a-month Sunday family gathering to act as a core act of worship for the MC with all the kids all together. Everybody focused on making this work and it was a success in many ways: we managed to make it lightweight and low maintenance, we enjoyed it, our kids enjoyed it. However, perhaps unsurprisingly, Continue reading


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Missional Community Rhythms: Back to basics

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?

MC Rhythms Year 2

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 Continue reading


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Missional Community Rhythms: The First Mistake

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.

MC Rhythms Year 1

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 Continue reading


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Missional Community Rhythms: Ouch!

How do you find the right rhythm for your missional community?

Mention the word ‘rhythms’ or ‘schedule’ to people in our missional community and they will probably roll their eyes.  It’s not been an easy area for us – and I suspect I bear a lot of the responsibility of us oscillating trying to find the right routine (as you will see when I explain what we  have tried!)

Missional Community CalendarIt has been tricky balancing the Continue reading