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.
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