A Missional Short List

In my previous post, Matt asked this great question and one where I have only a little insight, so I’m hoping others will jump in here, particularly any of you have done church planting or have been involved in one.

Matt asked, “I struggle with what a missional church ‘looks like.’ Can you give a short list of practical ways a church can be missional from the beginning.”

Here is my short list of the practical ways a faith community can be missional from the beginning:

  • Select carefully those that will form your core group. If they are not committed to engaging the culture in a “go to them” life, then they would not be part of my core group.
  • Don’t make the Sunday gathering your organizational focus. If you spend most of your money, peoples time and emotional resources on the Sunday gathering, you’ll have little to devote to community engagement.
  • Your Sunday gathering should be for the purpose of worship, encouragement, story telling, teaching, training, and to seek God’s presence and to be realigned with God’s missionary purpose. It should not be focused on the needs of the not-yet-Christian.
  • Plant your faith community in the heart of the area you want to minister. (And if it were me, all leadership would be required to live in the immediate area, but I know that would be hard one for most.)
  • You and your core group should spend lots of time exploring the needs of your community and how you can join your community in meeting those needs.
  • When considering community needs, I’d be looking for those that center on the hurting people in your area. The gospel is about walking a new path and those that already know that their current path in life is a dead-end are the richest harvest ground. Get involved with the working poor, AA, NA, prisons, immigrant poor, etc.
  • Be desperately dependent on prayer.
  • Don’t become a CEO. Your faith community is not a business. Leave the American capitalist organizing and marketing principles for the business world. Your faith community should be organic.

What other answers do the rest of you have for Matt? Jump in so we can all learn.

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20 Responses to “A Missional Short List”

  1. ron says:

    Don’t forget the spiritual truth and reality behind what it is to be missional…the revelation that it is more than just a ” good cause “, that it points to the redemptive imagination of God through Jesus…it all points to the new creation, and the Kingdom.

  2. Rick Meigs says:

    Thanks Ron.

  3. Makeesha says:

    I agree and we have done all you have already stated. I would also add – purpose to create ethos from which behavior is born rather than insisting on a certain behavior to communicate a vision.

  4. Rick Meigs says:

    Great addition Makeesha. Thanks. Seems like this would be very important as you have new people coming into the life of the faith community.

  5. JR Rozko says:

    These are all great suggestions. To sort of piggyback on what Ron is saying, as we launch missional communities or try and reframe existing churches missionally and give our attention to a renewed understanding of the gospel, we must take care to not simply move people forward, but delicately walk them through the process of unlearning in order that they might relearn. This will take, at the very least, many conversations, studies, messages, new practices, new rhythms, and some deep prayer.

    The more I get into the heart of missional theology and ecclesiology the more I realize just how complex this transition truly is.

  6. We didn’t have much choice in our core group, we took the few who we could get. Not that they are bad people, just the commitment isn’t fully there and that has resulted in constant struggles for the church plant. Is waiting for the perfect group really the only way to go? It’s hard to find the balance between casting vision and not being pushy in one’s motivation…

  7. Makeesha says:

    I wonder if “casting vision” is sort of futile anyway…yk?

  8. Andrew says:

    Hey Rick,

    I like the list – I have a question though, rather than a comment, to add. Point 6 relates to community needs, but focuses on the traditional areas of helping the poor. While this is cool, and applicable to many situations, what happens when the community being served is affluent?

    I guess this is the situation that we find ourselves in – and I gotta say it’s a struggle. It seems the best we are able to do at the moment is provide some social outlets – which is fine in itself, but also not necessarily a means of helping people with their deeper needs.

    Any ideas?

    Cheers,

    Andrew

  9. […] Rick (Blind Beggar) Meigs writes, “Matt asked, ‘I struggle with what a missional church ‘looks like.’ Can you give a short list of practical ways a church can be missional from the beginning.’” Rick responds with A Missional Short List. […]

  10. Rick Meigs says:

    Andrew: I believe you have touched on an issue that many of us in the affluent west don’t often want to admit or come to terms with. That is the issue of affluence itself and the impact it has on the spiritual receptivity of people. It wasn’t idle talk when Jesus said to his disciples, “Do you have any idea how difficult it is for the rich to enter God’s kingdom? Let me tell you, it’s easier to gallop a camel through a needle’s eye than for the rich to enter God’s kingdom.” Yet it is to the affluent church planters want to go and attempt to plant their faith communities instead of going to the marginalized.

    Like you and many others (including myself), we often find ourselves in the middle of and serving in affluent communities. The reason it is so hard for the rich (and most of us are rich by world standards) is that they have power and money to solve life issues. They typically don’t need to turn to God for any need or solution.

    But this is not always the case and I think this is the key. Only when they come to the place where they find that money and power can’t solve the problem do they, in their desperation, become open to the message of Jesus. Take Chuck Colson as a prime example after his fall in the Watergate mess hear in America back in the 70s. Or the gentleman in our faith community who was a highly successful stock broker who got caught up with and addicted to cocaine. It broke him to the point where he had no place to go but to Jesus.

    There are also those who, after a long life of self indulgent, come to a point in life where they realize that, “Vanity of vanities, all is vanity.” They start looking for meaning in life and often another path to follow.

    Finally, Jesus did remind his disciples that “…all things are possible with God.”

    So, if I were to find myself ministering to the affluent, I’d do a couple of thing I think:

    * Watch for those in crisis and come along side of them to be Jesus in their life and help them work through the calamity.
    * Teach often about the alternate and meaningful life path God has presented. A rich live of service and meaning, but one that can only be realized after we make Jesus Lord and enter his Kingdom of Light.
    * Pray, pray, and pray. And my prayers would not be nice ones. I would be asking the Father to bring those who see the faith community as only a social outlet to their knees in despair and crisis. Remember what Jesus taught, “For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world, and forfeit his soul?”

    Just some thought Andrew. Hope they help some.

  11. Adam G. says:

    Nice list. I’ll print it out.

  12. Andrew says:

    Thanks Rick,

    I appreciate your thoughts and reply, your suggestions and insight are helpful.

    :)

  13. Hi Rick – don’t think I have commented here before, but I reckon your list is excellent.

    It describes the heart of our own focus as a community and almost echoes our own ‘distinctives’ & ‘undistinctives’.

    http://upstream.org.au/distinctives.html
    http://upstream.org.au/undistinctives.html

    The only thing I would add is ‘don’t expect church people to ‘get it’ and don’t expect tangible ‘fruit’ in the short term’.

    This is a whole different beast to what we are familiar with!

  14. Matt Maestas says:

    Thanks for all the response everyone, and thank you Rick for allowing this extra space. As we move forward these will prove to be not only very informative but foundational and formational as well

  15. Rick Meigs says:

    Andrew #13: Thanks for dropping in and commenting. Great addition to the list and thanks for the links.

  16. Rick Meigs says:

    Matt: Thanks for the question in the first place. Got me to thinking about an area that needed some thought.

  17. NWProdigal says:

    Rick,
    I like your list and think it is a sound approach, especially the part about prayer. The questions about affluent neighborhoods are worth considering, but I really think our focus should be on those who are desperate for answers and beaten down by sin and wrong choices. They are. as you implied, ripe for harvesting. The rich (most of us) have every resource available to them that is necessary to find the real answers to life’s questions (internet, libraries, God’s Word). We know though, that most people, including Christians, don’t really trust in God until they find themselves without answers… and turn to God when nothing and no one else can help. It’s how God teaches all of us faith.

    My only other thought is that, in all we do, we need to be sure that the work we do is of and led by God, and not simply our own well-intentioned efforts.

  18. […] in June I posted my short list of the practical ways a faith community can be missional from the beginning. I’d like to add a […]

  19. Mike says:

    First I must say, I am so happy I found this site. I am so tired of the annual church growth seminar where we talk about gathering people and building bigger buildings. This site contains more info on being missional than I ever dreamed existed.

    I wonder if when Christ ordained us to go into “ALL” the world with his message that he wanted the affluent ignored?

    We are on our second missional community plant and both this one and our first one are in affluent areas.

    I think being missional to the affluent requires basic missional models.

    “A Missional Church is individuals willing and ready to be Christ’s people in their own situation and place” (Brother Maynard).

    I tend to believe that we see only the extrenals of the affluent’s life and fail to understand that just as the poor and needy lack Christ in their own way, so do the affluent lack Christ in their own way.

    Look at Brittany Spears (Sorry for corny reference), money in her life has failed her. She, as we all do, has a void in her life that nothig but her creator can fill. The only way for her to have a relationship with her creator is through the creator’s son. I wish I could introduce her to Him.

  20. Rick Meigs says:

    Mike,

    Glad you found the site and thanks for the comments. You are right that the affluent are in need of Christ in their own way, and we certainly should not abandon them. But if I were to plant a faith community, going to an affluent community would not be my first choice.