Missional Communities

Living As Missional Communities-Will we go any deeper?

This is the fourth post in a series of posts about what our upcoming Missional Community gatherings will look like.

As we prepare to launch our two initial MC’s some have wondered if the MC’s will go any deeper than a group meeting in terms of personal spiritual formation and discipleship. While living on mission in the everyday stuff of life is one of the most effective ways for not only mission to happen, but also for us to grow, there is also a need to develop deep relationships and the group setting of an MC is not always conducive to the vulnerability and transparency required to cultivate the kind of accountability and growth that we hope for. To this end, each MC will also contain within it smaller groups of people called DNA groups. DNA groups will usually consist of three people (men with men and women with women) who will decide together on some other regular meeting time and place where they can go deeper together into their life together. The “DNA” in DNA groups is an acronym for “Discover, Nurture, Act”. These three actions are what the DNA group actually practices when they meet.

"Discover” - The group will share what they are currently reading and learning from the Bible with one another, and specifically how the gospel is coming to bear on their life thru what they are learning thru the Bible. The DNA group is also able to encourage one another to be regularly "looking up" as they pursue knowing Jesus more and more thru HIs word.

"Nurture" - After spending time talking about what they have been discovering in the Bible, the group will nurture in one another's hearts the truths that you have just talked thru. This nurturing conversation is a great way for us to care for one another(Look In) and for us to also grow in our own ability to speak the good news of Jesus into the everyday stuff of one another's lives.

"Act" - As the group concludes their meeting time, they will take action together towards repentance and belief. This would most often look like a time of prayer where we repent of the areas of unbelief in our hearts and pray with and for one another to grow in our obedience to the teachings of Jesus. The group also shares how they will intentionally practice this obedience as they are once again sent out into the world.

These groups will be formed over the first couple of months of the MC's beginning to meet. The MC will need time to discover the relationship that may be present in the MC, and then the DNA groups can begin to form as it becomes clear who the DNA groups should be made up of.

Check out the other posts in this series of posts on living as missional communities.

Living As Missional Communities-How often will MC's meet together?

This is the third post in a series of posts about what our upcoming Missional Community gatherings will look like.

One questions several folks here at Lansdowne Alliance have asked is how often MC’s will meet. This is a great question especially when we consider that most of us at LAC have not participated in an MC in our church experience yet. This question also raises another question which is: “How long will the MC’s continue to meet?” Let’s look at each question.

How often will MC’s meet?

The short answer is that typically MC’s meet together during the week one time. As was stated in the second post in this series, this generally is a meeting to eat a meal together and then do some kind of discussion or prayer time together. Having said that, it is not uncommon or “wrong” for an MC to realize that once a week just doesn't work for them, and so they may choose to meet every other week or in some other format. One of the things that makes MC’s unique is that unlike a small group bible study, the main driving force of the MC is the mission that the MC has decided together to pursue. So, for example, lets say the MC decides(by spending time in prayer together and seeking the Lord) that they are called to reach the youth soccer league that some of their kids participate in. This will mean that their MC is going to have times during the year when there will be more active than other times. During those busy times, the MC may decide that meeting weekly is too much. Then in times when their mission is in a season of less activity, they may decide to meet more often together to simply build community with one another. Each MC must be hearing from God about what He would have them doing to reach those close to them, and so each MC has flexibility in this regard.

How long will MC’s continue to meet?

The answer to this is similar to the previous question. Much of the MC’s meeting times will be dependent on the mission they feel God is calling them to. There is no expectation or “rule” that MC’s must meet all year long. In fact, it is important that we have a good theology of rest built into our MC life. We do not want the MC meeting to become a burden! It should be a place that we engage in community in as a way to be equipped and sent out from. This means that there will be at least two times a year when there will be built in breaks from the weekly MC meetings. Once during the winter “holiday” season, and once during the summer, MC’s will take an 8-week break during which there is no expectation that the MC has its regular meeting. Of course, if the people in the MC want to get together, that is great, but there will be a built-in break from the normal rhythm of the MC. This break is built in for a few reasons: First, this gives set start and end dates for people to step into and out of the MC. Sometimes we can feel the weight of the meeting that will never have a break and we can become discouraged. Building in breaks gives a chance for us to take a break and rest from the rhythm of the MC. Second, these set breaks make great times to allow new people to join an MC or to launch a new MC. These breaks will almost function like semesters in an academic environment, and give clear times for new folks to join MC’s. Third, these breaks give us a chance to offer what we will be calling “Courses” during those 8-week breaks. “Courses” will be classes that are more formal in nature and are better suited for a lecture format. These “Courses” will include things like Membership Class, Marriage classes, parenting classes, etc. “Courses” will begin in the summer of 2019, and will hopefully include two courses in that first run.

Check out the other posts in this series of posts on living as missional communities.

Living As Missional Communities-What will we do when we meet?

This is the second post in a series of posts about what our upcoming Missional Community gatherings will look like.

Many folks have asked what we will actually do when we meet together in Missional COmmunities. Many of you have experienced small group bible studies, and other forms of smaller gatherings. In some ways, there will be some similarities, but in other ways, MC’s will be different.

The primary purpose of MC’s is not to be a Bible Study class or group. There will certainly be times when MC’s will study the Bible together, or perhaps work thru a Bible study curriculum, or even do a book study.

The primary purpose of MC’s, however is to be an intentional time of living on mission together. One of the simplest ways to begin to cultivate this kind if relationship is to just have a meal together. It may seem insignificant, but if you want to get a glimpse into Jesus’ own life on mission, read thru the gospels and take note of how many times we see Jesus eating with people. One of the accusations made against Jesus was even based around meals. Jesus was accused of eating and drinking with sinners. Also, it is no accident that the most symbolic and important rituals we have in the Church is also a meal. Jesus left us Communion as the way by which we would remember. We also see that very very early on in Church history, what those early Christians did was to devote themselves to the Apostles teaching and the “breaking of bread”. So, eating a meal together takes on all kinds of significance when we consider meals in this light.

So, when MC’s gather together, one of the central thins we will do together is eat a meal. Each MC will decide how that works(pot luck style, at a restaurant, one person cooking each week, etc…) but each MC will be highly encouraged to make eating a meal together a central part of how they live on mission together.

Along with this, the next most central part of living together on mission will be prayer. There may be times when the MC gathers and all we do is eat a meal and pray with and for one another. Prayer is so vital to our lives together. We must pursue and cultivate a community atmosphere where we know one another and are known to the point that our prayers can be deeply personal and therefore deeply meaningful.

As the MC’s mature in knowing the mission God has specifically given to them, they will likely begin to also include other things into their meetings. One of the first things that we will begin to practice together in MC’s is the telling and re-telling of our “Grace Stories”. This is simply the story of how God rescued and redeemed us and what that means for us. Practicing our stories together will create in us more comfort in our ability to share this story with others as we are out on mission, and it will give us an opportunity to listen well to these stories and begin to notice where there are still areas of unbelief in one another’s life that we can begin to speak gospel truths into.

Your expectation as to what MC life will be should be simple: we will gather and eat a meal together. From there we may spend time in prayer or spend time sharing our “Grace Stories” together as we begin to build deeper relationship with those whom we are on mission with.

Living as Missional Communities: Where will our first M.C's be?

This is the first in a series of posts about life in missional communities.

As we lead up to the launch of our Missional Communities in the month of October, it seemed like a good idea to write a few posts about MC's and some of the common questions that people have been asking. Over the next few weeks, keep an eye out on the blog for more posts like this one.

The single most common question that has been asked about the launch of MC's for us at Lansdowne Alliance Church has been a very practical one: where will the MC's be meeting? This is a significant question not only for the simple and practical reason of knowing where and when the meeting(s) will happen but also because of the way we will be organizing MC's as a church family. While some churches have organized small group ministries and other groups by affinity, we will be organizing our MC's by geography. The reason is based on what the Apostle Paul said at the Areopagus when he was in Athens. We read the following in Acts 17:26-28

And he made from one man every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth, having determined allotted periods and the boundaries of their dwelling place, that they should seek God, and perhaps feel their way toward him and find him. Yet he is actually not far from each one of us, for “‘In him we live and move and have our being’; as even some of your own poets have said, “‘For we are indeed his offspring.'

What we see in this text is that God was intentional in placing each of us in the geographies that we live in. The reason that we can know that God is not far from those who live around us is that God has placed us to live near those people and He has called us to be His ambassadors who make an appeal on His behalf that those people would be reconciled to Him(2 Cor 5:20)! So as we think about this reality, it seems to make sense to meet as MC's based on geography. This also allows us to maintain the beautiful diversity that the gospel calls us to since each MC will hopefully be made up of people from all walks of life and generations.

So, as we begin this new chapter at LAC, we will have two MC's.

One will be located at Jeff and Amy Simpson's home in Lansdowne:

 

The other will be located at Rod and Angie Haigis' home in Catonsville.

 

As you think about how you will engage in MC life, prayerfully consider which of these two locations would make more sense for how you will engage in mission. Of course as we continue in this trajectory, there will be more MC's launched in other locations. For now, however, these are the two groups that will begin to meet in early October. 

In our next post, we will be looking at what a typical MC meeting will look like.