Implementing "Missional Communities" in an established CRC setting

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The congregation I serve is an established (60 yrs. old) suburban/urban CRC that increasingly is captivated by a missional identity and desires to see that identity lived out in our neighborhoods, communities, and network of relationships that our members are part of. Our leadership is at the very early stages of exploring the concept of "missional communities".  I have talked to a couple of leaders in the CRC who are in process of implementing MC's in their setting, but each setting is quite different from ours in that they are younger churches / church plants with a considerably younger demographic than our congregation. Our church has a fairly even spread of youth, young family, middle age, seniors.

I'd love to learn from or learn with leaders that have navigated (or are navigating!, or even just considering) the significant shift from a traditional CRC structure / culture, to one that employs the "missional communities" model.  The model that I am refering to flows mainly out of the writings of Mike Breen and company with 3DM.

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Hey Andrew......

A few of us down here in Texas are doing missional communities - two churches in Austin (Sunrise & The Springs) and three churches/plants in Houston (New Life + two plants) are currently either completely missional community-driven or moving in that direction. Maybe we could chat sometime.......... mark@sunriseaustin.org.

Here is a great blog post from 3DM on  Pilot Missional Communities: Nuts and Bolts

We have just finished the pilot phase and will be launching 3 missional communities this September.  We are launching them alongside our existing small goups but as part of a long term stratigy we will be replacing some of the Small group stuff with more discipleship training that includes a high accountablity aspect that is missing in most of the small group materal out there.  I find that most small group material only get to the information portion of discipleship.  Some get to the immitation part but most don't get to the immersion part that is extreamly important for transformation.  Putting into practice the discipleship information and immitating the discipler will best transform when the disciple is held accountable for immersion each week. 

The missional community groups model from 3DM have a great discipleship component to them.  I have really enjoyed the discipleship journey with the group in the pilot.  I dont know about you but I didn't have anyone that held me highly accountable for immersion.  The closest I came to that kind of immersion was from my Dad but the actual practices of discipleship were something I had to do on my own.  He was never taught nor did pass on to me that when we practice this together and hold each other accountable we see powerful transformation together.  The book "Building a Discipling Culture" from Mike Breen is fantastic. 

Love to share some thoughts... also could recommed some people in the CRC in Canada who are doing this. 

Hi Andrew:

Some churches in Ontario that I am aware of that are exploring this very thing:

Faith CRC - Burlington

Maranatha CRC -Cambridge

Discovery Church, Maranatha CRC, Rehoboth CRC - exploring this together in Bowmanville.

The Village Church - Thorold, ON

The Journey - Kitchener, ON

Community CRC - Kitchener

Forest City Community Church - London, ON

I am sure there are still others that are trying to figure out how mid sized communities can fit/overlap with existing congregational models.   It's going to be exciting to see what comes out of all of this!

Adrian Van Giessen

Home Missions Regional Leader for Eastern Canada

Hi Andrew,

I'm at a 60-year old congregation in western Michigan.  Like yours, an even spread of ages.  We started our first missional community in May and hopeto launch 2 more by next summer.  It's been quite a journey, but so cool to see God at work.  3DM is a great resource.  Soma Communities in Tacoma is another one.  Let me know how I can help.  I'd love to know more about your church and what's working for you.

 

Nate Visker

Andrew,

We're learning along with everyone else. 3DM has been a great resource for us with the Launching Missional Communities: A Field Guide as well as Building a Discipling Culture. I just orderd Multiplying Missional Leaders. I like 3DM's simple, reproducible huddle concept for leaders and we're using this as a framework to disciple our leaders. Everyone is being discipled and everyone is discipling someone. Simple questions like "What is God Calling You to Do?" and "What are You Doing About It?" make this reproducible for multiple generations. Also, they use language effectively to create culture with their life shapes. This is still a learning curve for us.

In addition to 3DM we have also greatly benefited from Mission Houston's Faithwalking training. They focus on both personal transformation (101 and 201) and community transformation (301 and 401). On the personal side they use a lot of Dallas Willard material and also family systems and inner healing. And they do all this to talk about how we get "stopped" in the discipleship journey. They teach on integrity and authenticiy and then help you live a life of radical obedience in a missional context. My wife and I can personally testify to the power of this. The only other time I've had similar personal transformation was when I took the Sondship course with Drew Angus.

One the community transformation side, Faithwalking has a compelling kingdom vision and they talk about shalom in every sphere of life. They talk about this more effectively than anyone else. And they don't just talk about it. They get you doing it. They set up the training so there is high accountability. Action transforms. Not just information. They present a mental model of discipleship that has at its core a robust missional theology. Missional communities can be launched by the church (e.g. 3DM) but also in the work place with other believers from other local churches. A truely kingdom approach.

They have been working with the RCA and CRC the past six years in West Michigan doing a congregational version of this called the Ridder Initiative through Western Seminary. Here in Houston they are calling this Congregational Faithwalking. They also have contact with the CRC in Nicaragua with Transformational Networks. They are seeing lots of success just line 3DM. Very inspiring and very life-giving. What's even better is that Faithwalking is Free! Hope this helps!

In Him,

Andy

Great to read all of these helpful comments!  Thank you for chiming in! I'm not sure how to keep this conversation going on the Network, but I do intend to follow-up with a number of you to continue learning. I'm also wondering about a possible conference call or webinar format to see if some of us might talk together or share some resources. I'll certainly let all of you know if I pursue that option any further. Would there be any interest in this option?

Andrew

I'd be interested.

I do want to keep this conversation going...

This past Saturday I led a leadership retreat with all of our elders and deacons in which I introduced the concept of missional communities. The discussion quickly shifted towards "what would implementation look like?" Issues like: does this become another ministry offering among many? what about people who don't want to participate in MC's? how do we build on effective missional witness that is currently happening in our congregation though not connected to a MC?...and several others, were all part of the discussion.  

Our leadership quickly caught on that this is a paradigm shifting or culture shifting initiative. I was pleased that in no way did the conversation get "shut-down."  No one voiced strong objections or criticism; most all expressed interest and receptivitiy, along with good questions and potential challenges.  We agreed to meet again for an extended discussion early in the new year to give time for continued prayer and Spirit led percolation. 

I'm wondering if a conference call / webinar style meeting would be helpful for further conversation.  I know this is new territory for me and I'd love to hear from others on how this journey is going in other churches.  Any suggestions on what the best format might be?  I am happy to plan and make happen.

I wonder if folks at the CRC Network might have suggestions on how to facitilate this conversation beyond this post/reply/blog format.

Hi Andrew,

My input would be to contact 3DM and either get into a coaching huddle or sign up for their learning community. I think for you, this will be the best way to move from idea to planning/action. I'm open to having some kind of forum, etc. but I think this step will get you to where you and your congregation want to go the fastest. My two cents...

In Him,

Andy

I just happen to be organizing a trip to a 3DM conference in Cincinnati from November 5-7. If you're interested a group of five or six of us are traveling to attend their conference on discipleship which includes their teaching on "huddle".

One of the things that we did at Discovery church was to run the four month missional community pilot. This allowed us to experiment with a huddle and the rhythms of a missional community with potential leaders. It was a process of discernment for many leaders and approximately half of them dropped out. What we were left with was two missional communities that have started this past September. So far so good. The steps to run the pilot are in the book "Launching Missional Communities: A Field Guide".
 

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