I have always found it helpful to review the basics in order to maintain a true course in whatever I’m trying to accomplish. It helps me avoid missing the forest because of the trees.
So what are the basics of a missional community? A missional community is a group of people who have arranged their lives so that they are cooperating with God’s dream of redeeming creation by living in constant missionary engagement with the world. This involves a few things worth unpacking.
First, the members of a missional community are committed to being Jesus’ apprentices, arranging their lives to learn from him how to be like him from the inside-out. This is accomplished primarily by being with Jesus throughout one’s day by wisely practicing spiritual disciplines, worship and community, all supported by a natural rhythm of life.
It also means that this group of apprentices gathers in various ways, either formally or informally, that build the members up in love. These gatherings are “in Jesus’ name,” centering around his essence and presence. They involve worship, prayer, communion, story-telling and the full exercise of spiritual gifts. Ultimately, it’s the members’ rich participation in each other’s lives that then supports the members’ lives outside the community.
Ultimately, the previous two facets are means to a greater end — a constant missionary encounter with the world. We are called by God not for privilege but for service. We are called to be a blessing to the world by living a life of sacrificial love, and thus imitating God (Ephesians 5:1-2). As N.T. Wright has said on many occasions, what Jesus is for Israel, the Church is now for the world. Or as Wright states in his commentary on Romans 8 (I pulled this from Scot McKnight’s blog), “And, if one dare put it like this, as God sent Jesus to rescue the human race, so God will send Jesus’ younger siblings, in the power of the Spirit, to rescue the whole creation order, to bring that justice and peace for which the whole creation yearns” (p. 596).
Perhaps the primary way members of a missional community, both corporately and personally, can embody Jesus’ good news of God’s kingdom come to earth is through inclusion. To refer to Wright once again, he states that at the heart of Jesus’ kingdom practice was the practice of inclusion, especially around the table. Table fellowship became a powerful symbol and practice for Jesus as he used these moments to shatter revered social categories and welcome all into his Father’s life.
Therefore, the missional community must explore new ways to welcome everyone into their relationships, their homes, and their gatherings. The good news of God’s kingdom come to earth; the good news of God’s future New Creation dawning in the present is expressed through loving hospitality and inclusion.
Much more can be said, but right now these are the basics I need to focus on.