From the Front Lines of Missional Community Formation
I’ve been encouraged by so many of you lately as we embrace the idea of becoming more intentional about community together as a church. As a husband and father to 3 young children, and with a pretty full plate as one of the elders and Director of Administration for the church, I wanted to walk you through the last few weeks of my own group, to show that although it’s a commitment, it’s SO life-giving and God-honoring. Here we go!
A peek into a “normal” Tuesday night Community Group potluck in Sammamish
Each family brought a dish to share and the 18 (yes, 18!) kids in our group were rowdy as ever. The adults settled in around a big dining table to talk, while little princesses and ninja warriors darted in and out of the room, having eaten a little too much sugar while building their own “community.”
We’ve been through a lot, and built really strong relationships over the last few years as we’ve experienced a wide spectrum of life together. From births to deaths, job losses to promotions, house foreclosures to home purchases, from learning about Jesus for the first time to walking with him faithfully for a long time. We’ve lived a lot of life together in these two short years. For my own family, as we moved from Michigan to Washington 2 years ago, this community group that God led us to has become our family. We love them dearly.
But tonight we had a new aspect of life to tackle — church transition and its many implications. Our group was formed in Sammamish as a Mars Hill Church Community Group, and continued to attend, serve, and participate at Mars Hill through December of last year. As a group we were in different stages of deciding what to do next. Some were ready to commit to Doxa Church and wanted to form a Missional Community there. Some wanted to keep praying through the decision and visit other churches in their city. Some felt called to or had already joined other churches. It was (and frankly, still is) pretty messy in that regard. Yet, to be completely honest, this is okay. It’s going to take time to work through these transitions, and the most important thing becomes how we do it. Our priority is not the outcome, but loving one another in the midst of the hard stuff. So for our group that night, we were able to talk about what it would mean to be in a Missional Community at Doxa Church in a healthy and open-handed way.
We framed up our conversation around this question: How would our week look differently if we were committed to being in a Missional Community that included living life-on-life, life-in-community, and life-on-mission?
We’re not perfect, but our group was pretty healthy in the life-on-life and life-in-community categories. We had done a good job of caring for one another, had many relational touch points throughout the week, and were always warm and welcoming to others who were interested in joining our fellowship. But, we were not as strong in the life-on-mission area. Not that we didn’t care about mission, but we were living that aspect out in a more individualistic way that focused on bringing people to church to hear the gospel, not a strategic effort together as a group to share the gospel. So, we talked about what people group we felt burdened to reach with the gospel.
That’s when the conversation got really exciting!
Did you know that 44% of Sammamish is not involved with any sort of faith, and only a small part of the other 56% would identify with evangelical Christianity? What would happen to the greater Eastside if some of these affluent and culturally powerful neighbors met Jesus and became his disciples? What if all of that started with a simple monthly pancake breakfast meeting hosted by our missional community, where neighbors came together and became friends?
Did you know that Sammamish has a Muslim mosque serving over 70 families in the area, with significant expansion plans in the near future? What would it be like to build relationship with them as our kids play together at the same playgrounds, attend the same schools, and the parents work in the same businesses? What if some were willing to have meals with us and we had the chance to share Jesus with them?
Did you know that in the affluent, family-friendly, white collar, clean cut City of Sammamish there is prostitution? Admittedly, I did not, but a number of our mom’s had witnessed it taking place in their own neighborhoods! Wouldn’t it be amazing to reach out to those young women and see if Jesus might have other plans for their future?
The possibilities are as endless and diverse as the people Jesus saves!
Looking to the Future
All of this great conversation left us excited about what the future might hold, but it was just the beginning of a long-term process. Four weeks later we still don’t have regular meeting times scheduled, a host home confirmed, or an agreement on who or how we want to be on mission. It’s all still being worked out. But that’s okay.
I’m sharing all this with you because we (the elders and leaders of Doxa) want to help the church understand that we know this whole Missional Community thing is a bit messy and will take time. All of that is to be expected. If you are feeling a bit overwhelmed or confused, be encouraged, it’s likely a good sign that you are on the right track! We are working through this just like you. It hasn’t been easy, but it has been good, as Jesus has given our family a renewed passion for the lost and a new way to see how we might live out the Great Commission together as disciples of Jesus.
I look forward to continuing to work through this together with you all, for Jesus’ glory. I love you and am praying for you.