August 5, 2014 5 Comments
Planting a church was never in my five-year plan. I can honestly say that, fifteen years ago, leading worship was not in my five-year plan either. That may be why I don’t believe in the “Where do you see yourself in five years?” question. It seems my life changes about every five years somehow so establishing an answer to that question is futile.
So I am announcing a new church plant coming to Lewisburg, Tennessee. It will be called GraceLife Lewisburg. However, it will not look like what most consider traditional church. This is not because Carrie and I are jaded with the contemporary concept of church. In some ways we are but the primary goal for us moving back home is so that we can focus on what we feel better exemplifies the primary goal of church; discipleship.
What does GraceLife Lewisburg look like? Let’s call it a missional community.
What is a missional community? “A missional community is a group of believers who live and experience life together like a family. A missional community is more than a bible study or a small group that cares for other believers. A missional community is made up of Spirit-led and Spirit-filled people who radically reorient their lives together for the mission of making disciples of a particular people and place where there is a gospel gap (no consistent gospel witness). This means people’s schedule, resources and decisions are now collectively built around reaching people together.” – Jeff Vanderstelt
In other words, a missional community is a group of people, about the size of an extended family, who are united through Christian community around a common service and witness to a particular neighborhood or network of relationships. The participants of missional communities find their primary identity of “church” within the missional community, rather than a larger worship service or small group. In essence, this group of people becomes a close-knit spiritual family on mission together
Because discipleship is the primary goal of the church, we feel the missional community is the best context in which disciples are made and developed:
- through life on life, where there is visibility and accessibility
- in community, where we can practice the “one anothers,” and
- on mission where we learn how to proclaim the gospel and make disciples.
Let me be clear. There are other groups that look much like a missional community such as small groups, bible studies, and community groups and I’m not trying to discount their importance in the life of the Church. However the main difference in a missional community and the other aforementioned groups is missional communities are intentionally focused on those who aren’t believers. Missional community is intentionally focused on those outside the church.
We are not interested in transferable growth. We are interested in reaching those who are far from God, leading them to Christ and discipling them to start their own missional community. I’m not saying transferable growth can’t happen. It most certainly can. I hope there will be those who say, “This is what church should be about, can I get involved?” Absolutely!!!
Our goal is not to build a big event driven church full of people. That’s great and all but I think that’s where we start missing the main objective. It’s difficult trying to disciple that many people. Jesus had over a hundred followers but he discipled twelve and really focused on three. Our goal is to build deep-rooted followers of Christ or disciples, someone who is a student of the teacher and lives to live like the teacher, namely Christ.
I’m excited about this new adventure. I’m also scared out of my pants. I’m sure Abraham was pretty pumped and frightened at the same time when God told him to go without telling him where. We could use your prayers. We NEED your prayers.