Resource, Conference or Event

First CRC in Bellflower is hosting a Coffee Break Bible Discovery training in Southern California on June 30. Join this fun event and also learn small group faciliation skills!

May 23, 2015 0 0 comments
Resource, Conference or Event

Four new Coffee Break webinars are scheduled for August. Join from the comfort of your own home or as a group!

May 12, 2015 0 1 comments
Blog

People often think that we must make a decision, "Do we serve our families or serve the church?" Daphne Kirk's blog, The Day of Joshua, helps us imagine how we can serve WHILE discipling children.

April 28, 2015 0 0 comments
Blog

Take a look at North American Christian community through the eyes of Latin theologian, Goizueta. And, let's consider how our culture impacts the church.

March 9, 2015 1 6 comments
Blog

When making disciples in a church context, it’s important to use the right tool for the job. Our church is focusing on 2 specific tools: Triads and Huddles. Which tools do you use?

February 23, 2015 1 4 comments
Blog

If you “feel the need for speed,” then starting a movement of discipleship in your church is probably not for you. Discipleship is not a fast process.

February 16, 2015 1 5 comments
Blog

Jesus used questions to engage people in God's story. This article, from the new Coffee Break newsletter, provides helpful ideas for all types of small group leaders who lead Bible discovery conversations.

February 3, 2015 0 0 comments
Blog

More and more adults know less and less about the Bible. What curriculums or strategies have worked well for you in teaching adults an overview of the Bible?

December 8, 2014 0 0 comments
Resource, Website

Check out Walk the Way videos for quick but substantive materials for youth ministry or small group discussions.

October 14, 2014 0 0 comments
Blog

What ingredients are necessary for a discipleship model that will raise up men and women, boys and girls who look and act like Jesus?

October 14, 2014 1 1 comments
Blog

Plans are underway for a “refresh” that will energize Bible discovery, invigorate small group leaders, and enliven the evangelistic mission of sharing God’s Word with our friends!

September 8, 2014 0 1 comments
Resource, Lesson or Study

The story of a car salesman and his new found love, Jesus Christ, and the call to make disciples. How are you doing in the field where God has placed you to disciple others?

September 3, 2014 0 0 comments
Discussion Topic

“I will be visiting a close relative in the next couple of weeks. My relative is not a Christian. I would love to give them a pamphlet or small book which explains the gospel. What would you suggest?”

August 5, 2014 0 3 comments
Resource, Article

Bible engagement is critical for spiritual growth. What kind of small group enviornment encourages Bible engagement? What kind of leader can help cultivate such a group?

July 21, 2014 1 4 comments
Blog

Small Groups carry a lot of weight in churches. We expect that if people participate in groups they will grow and change. What change are we working toward and how do we know if it happened?

May 13, 2014 0 0 comments
Resource, Lesson or Study

A Bible study for new Christians who would like to have a better understanding of the stories of the Bible.

April 9, 2014 0 0 comments
Resource, Book or Booklet

This is the final blog in a five part book review series on the books by Mike Breen and the 3DM Team on missional communities. Today, Ruth Kelder shares her report on Breen’s newest book, Covenant and Kingdom and how the "assignment" to read it gave her valuable, new insights about scripture.

April 8, 2014 0 2 comments
Resource, Book or Booklet

This is part four of a five part book report series on Mike Breen and the 3DM team’s books on missional communities. The reports have been prepared by leaders who are on the journey of developing a discipleship ministry in their churches...

April 1, 2014 0 0 comments
Blog

First CRC in Denver is trying something new with their Sunday School. Read about their intergenerational Sunday School experiment and what they have learned from it! 

February 12, 2014 0 2 comments
Blog

CrossPoint’s discipleship strategy may be the simplest and most used word in our vocabulary, yet the most difficult of words to truly live out – LOVE.  The Shema (found in Deut. 6:5) gives a complete picture of what a disciple looks like and does.  CrossPoint has shaped our call to be disciples who disciple in three simple steps...

January 23, 2014 0 2 comments
Blog

Here's the take away: There is not a one-size-fits-all discipleship strategy. Jesus discipled his own disciples differently as they grew in faith. How are our churches equipping people in all varieties of faith development.  Mike Johnson shares his wisdom and expertise about faith development in today's blog.

January 19, 2014 0 0 comments
Blog

Drew Angus and Paul Ingeneri join the conversation by sharing tools for growing adult new believers.

January 4, 2014 0 0 comments

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I'm so glad we get to make us of helpful technology to do Coffee Break training. As one of the presenters I'm wondering, "What questions would you like to have addressed on these webinars?"

For the last hundred years, "believing on" has been a dispensational insider word for, "It ain't enough to believe IN Jesus. You gots to believe ON Jesus."

At the risk of being ex-communicated, scriptural covenants are accumulative, not substitutionary. The Noahic Covenant is applicable to all humans. The Abrahamic and Mosaic Covenants only apply to Jews - the people who came out of Egypt with Moses.

In Acts, the Jerusalem Synod observed the 613 commandments and didn't know what to make of Paul. They told him to teach gentiles to observe the Noahic Covenant and hoped he would stay far from Jerusalem. There is sarcasm and irony in Acts.

Neo-Christianity is the religion of Paul and Constantine. We have to work with what we have. Rev. Punt is correct in his interpretation (as far as he went), was cleared and then totally ignored. 

To paraphrase a 1st century Saint, "I've been "believing in Jesus for 70 years, Jesus has always taken good care of me, and I will not now turn on him now". As for the theological details, 80% is circular, assumes hard facts not in evidence, simply logical opinion.  I have no dog in that fight. Another 25 years or less I will know which theology is correct or I will know nothing.

How about if we read scripture not through the lens of our culture, or the lens of the Jewish culture, nor through the lens of the Greek culture, but through the lens of the gospel?  Then we will not get lost in an either-or proposition for community vs individualism, but rather embrace both.  Jesus emphasized believing on him, and loving God and your neighbor with the clear direction that we must be born again.  These things are not something the community can do for you, no matter how deeply you are imbedded in the community.  On the other hand, Jesus is the vine, and we are the branches, part of the body of Christ the community of the body which is celebrated in communion.  And then, the flip side, if the branch does not bear fruit, it will be pruned, and separated from community, separated from Christ...   This is the community we ought to be concerned about.   The rest is not about community vs individualism, but about obedience to what Christ would have us do in our relationships with others, as well as in our private closets.  

This is a valuable perspective on US church culture as a whole (though dangerous to generalize). The prevailing US cultural environment of individualism, is counter-Biblical. While the solution may not be classic liberation theology, it does require for some of us a radial re-reading of Scripture, not through the lens of our own dominant culture, but through a 1st century Jewish cultural lens. That's why I've appreciated Tom Wright's work so much (even if he isn't right about everything!)

Thanks Michael. I agree with your view point on his theology. I was waiting for someone to bring that up!

I did think his description and perception of North American culture was insightful. So, in what ways is the western church bringing Christ's love to all people? I wonder if the missional community movement is one example. What other examples do we have? 

I understand that there are many things we can learn from other Christians in other cultures, but part of that learning has to be done with an understanding of who Jesus is. Unfortunately, Dr. Goizueta’s Liberation Theology criticisms of the Western church fall a bit short because we do not share the same view of Jesus, his salvation or his kingdom.

The answer to our over-commercialized, consumerist western ecclesiology is not to find Christ in poor people, but to be found by Christ and witness his love to all people.

My son was baptized on Sunday. It reminded me again that we belong before we believe! I agree that we get that backwards too often. While preaching on the great commission (which he called the ordinary commission, because it applies to all of us) a pastor recently asked, "who do you know that needs community?" What if the church really was a place where people found a sense of belonging? Would there be more belief? 

Charles, I suppose this charge could be levied against anything we do in the church - sermons, sacraments, other spiritual disciplines.  Without biblical content and the Holy Spirit, all forms or methods (including huddles and triads) will only strengthen a person's commitment to a religion or philosophy.  The goal of huddles and triads is to strengthen one's commitment to Jesus through Scripture and mutual support and accountability, not to a system or philosophy.  I fail to see how pointing willing participants toward Jesus could be considered manipulative or unethical.

What alternatives would you suggest?

posted in: Huddles and Triads

I suspect that these methods would help strengthen a person's commitment to other religions or philosophies if the content was altered accordingly. If that is the case then it might not be the Holy Spirit at work here, but rather psychology. Doesn't it concern you that you might be employing psychological manipulation under a deceptive cover of spiritual rhetoric, and wouldn't that be unethical?

posted in: Huddles and Triads

Absolutely, Michael.  It seems like adding intentionality and small community to the spiritual journey accelerates it.  Of course, it's not the formula that makes it happen.  But it seems like God has created us in such a way that these things create opening in our lives for the Spirit to work powerfully.

What I like most about this is that one doesn't have to be spiritually gifted to grow.  A person just needs to be committed and have a few committed friends alongside him or her.  I think about the first Beatitude - the kingdom is available to even the poor in spirit.  No spiritual pedigree required.  Good news indeed!

posted in: Huddles and Triads

Thank you Nathan for your concise summary. It is my experience that triads & quads and I expect focused huddles of 5-7 as well, are very helpful to move the many folk who are stuck at the good friends with Jesus stage of spiritual growth to the close friends of Jesus stage--moving the gospel more deeply to the heart, as well as the head.  Is that yours as well?

posted in: Huddles and Triads

Thanks for your comments, Gilbert.  I agree that discipleship is not about a tool or method.  I refer to it as a culture, and I'm thinking specifically about how to help people in the community of faith grow to be more like Jesus.  I realize that discipleship extends to people at all spiritual places.  So I'm admittedly using that term more narrowly.  

I also must confess that I have been impacted by the instant gratification culture we live in.  I hoped this article would show that the slow speed of discipleship makes it a counter-cultural practice.  It's a call to embrace the speed of discipleship and reject a worldly definition of success.  Thanks for the opportunity to clarify.

"Another fruit/joy is seeing the changes in the lives of those we are discipling."

Thanks for mentioning this.  One of the biggest sources of encouragement in my own journey is seeing the Spirit at work in others.  Discipling people gives us a front row seat to God's work in others' lives.  Very satisfying!

I appreciate what Nate wrote -- about patience etc.

However, I think his whole blog article misses the point.  Discipleship making is not a matter of getting the right tool, finding the right approach.     Biblical discipleship, it seems to me, is much more radical and exciting.   It amounts to something like this:  

There is a vibrant community, rooted in tradition, practicing scripture-informed habits:  worship, sacraments, welcoming strangers.  This community is not designed to meet the perceived needs of the world.  rather this community lives the truth, practices the truth.  Is a community at heart that is not of this world but in it.    this community in its evangelism zeal practices 2 traits:  invitational and subversive.     We invite people to become part of a community that they can see is different than the world.

The focus of "Slow or Fast" in terms of making disciples smacks too much of the culture of consumerism:  we measure 'success" by how we perform.

Let's rethink evangelism with a Biblical mind:  a living, healthy community of folks whose social interaction displays to the world a "people set apart."

 

Thanks for your testimony. 

Being part of a discipling group and then beginning my own group I agree that there is no way to go fast.
We tried that in the first one and it did not work.
Learning new practices is one thing,
Actually using the new practices is another thing entirely.
One needs time and the encouragement of others on the same road.

The fruit in my life is becoming more intentional in my walk with Jesus. Being able, with His help of course, to actually do the things He calls me to do.
Another fruit/joy is seeing the changes in the lives of those we are discipling.

I agree with these three ancient words, that seem true now, just as they have always been. I would also add that genuine community is a key element of discipleship. We are not called to be disciples alone. All through Biblical history, God has been raising up a people to reflect his glory; we are together being built up into a spiritual temple where he dwells; we are different parts of one body that will grow into full maturity with Christ at the head. And I could go on with "one another" examples and images of our oneness in Christ. The individualism in our culture and in our churches hinders discipleship. I feel so blessed to have a few dear sisters in Christ with whom I have experienced deep, community; we've shared prayer, heartaches, joys, struggles, learning, and also amazing "fiducia" moments. When I think of discipleship, I think of them and what we have together (we do not attend the same local church, but together we have been the church to one another).

Hey, Sam, this looks really good.  Go you!  You've got a good thing going and I like it that you are keeping it fresh.  Keep your faithful followers posted on developments!   Thanks for your work on this.

posted in: Big News!

A missionary with Christian Reformed World Missions recently wrote a blog entry on using a song by Mumford & Sons as an evangelism tool. In the blog, he also quotes Grant Lovejoy who writes, “The best discipling resource among oral communicators is not a printed booklet but an obedient Christian. Oral communicators learn by observing.” I have certainly found this to be true in my ministry.

Like Paul, share your testimony (Acts 26). God has arranged this encounter, your equipped for this work, rejoice, no one is better fit for the task than you are.  

Salvation is personal; Jesus calls his sheep by name (John 10).

As for something to give the person: If the person is into social media, internet etc.

                Link: http://www.ligonier.org/learn/articles/what-gospel/

 

For pamphlets: Varied just search gospel tracts.

                I have two short works I can put in the mail to you tomorrow if you want them for free:

                1. Ultimate Questions by John Blanchard, 31 pages

                2. Jonathan Edwards “Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God”, Made Easier to Read by John Jeffery Fanella, 32 pages (it has a few notes marked on one page)

The best book I've read on the topic is: 'Evangelism - Outside the Box' by Rick Richardson. He gets at the heart of the matter within us... how to engage the Spirit in the process, and in the end offers some very intriguing ways of presenting the gospel, including Alpha, GIGs, and on a napkin (post-modernly).

Our church has also experienced the struggle with study material for Coffee Break and small groups.  People don't want to put anything INTO the process, they want to come and receive the information because they're too busy to study at home.  But I found that the times I've learned the most is when I was the leader - I HAD to put into the group in order to receive.  If we put into, we receive, and our faith grows.  

This sounds terrific, Keith! My brother is a CRC pastor in Toronto and meets with a group of business people for a lunchtime discussion. I don't know what materials he uses, but I believe the concept is the same. I'll have to get more details from him. But there's one CRC example anyway. :) 

I will try to learn more about the CCBF network and curriculum. 

Thanks!

Hundreds of Christian business leaders -- men and women -- meet monthly across Canada in small groups over breakfast.

They meet to connect their faith to their vocation. The Canadian Christian Business Federation (CCBF) is a 30-year-old network involving almost 4,000 Christians across Canada. It has deep Reformed roots but it has developed into a wonderful ecumenical gathering of Christians who deal with business issues from a biblical perspective. This isn't Bible study; it's leadership development but it is solidly biblical. The foundation for these monthly breakfast discussions -- and there are 35 groups across the country -- is the NIV Leadership Study Bible.

There is a five-year curriculum, dealing with everything from integrity and obedience to God to stress management, courage and risk-taking, communication skills and problem solving.

Among the participants are men and women involved in business, more than a dozen Christian non-profits and a half dozen Christian colleges and universities who connect their business students with business leaders.

A growing number of churches are creating their own CCBF groups, recognizing that the church does very little to provide faith support for their members who are in business or the professions. Interestingly, almost all of these churches are evangelical, Pentecostal or Assembly of God. There isn't a CRC among them, even though the discussion materials focus on the very Reformed notion that 'everything belongs to God' and that 'if you're in business, you're in ministry'.

Just as there are Coffee Break groups for women, I would love to see even one CRC consider creating a small group for the men and women in their congregation who are involved in business or the professions.

While I embrace the notion that we need to have more small groups that deal with Bible study, we also need to have small groups that practically apply those biblical principles to the challenges facing the Christian business community: How do you balance your corporate long range plan with the will of God? How do you handle power and influence? If all that we have belongs to God, isn't tithing robbing God of the other 90 per cent?

Keith Knight

Executive Director

Canadian Christian Business Federation

This is, I think, a tough issue. I agree, and I think we all would agree, that we need more engagement with the Bible. I've been participating in small groups for many years, and I still find it difficult to stick to Bible study with a group (and without, but that's a different topic!). 

One common challenge I find over and over is your bullet point "Group members come prepared to participate." Even with the best of intentions, people just have a hard time doing the preparation needed - reading the material before the meeting, or filling in answers to questions, etc. It just doesn't happen! When I have seen at least some success with Bible study in a group, it's been with books or guides that can work with having people "read" the material at the meetings. Either the material is very brief and able to be read aloud together at each meeting, or the leader has prepared ahead by finding key passages for the group to read together, enough to facilitate discussion. Like it or not, that's been the reality over and over.

Today I read a quote from John Suk's Twitter feed where he said, "People look for community before they set off on a search for God." It made me think of a recent decision I had made regarding the small group I am leading. Right now I have a lot of other commitments at our church and Christian school. I found myself really dreading the preparation I'd have to do for leading our small group Bible study, so I changed the format to be only a social/community format. We meet for coffee and dessert and share and prayer. At a later point I'll probably go back to including Bible study, but for right now this gives us a community of supportive, caring fellow believers.

I would not call it pure Bible study, but I have seen some success in a kind of theological book club that I was a member of. All of us find theological books interesting, and we had a book club where we read only those. Now that worked all right. And it speaks to another of your bullet points, "Group members understand the purpose of the group is Bible discovery. Relationship building and support will take place but are not the primary purpose." We were there to discuss books we read; it was not a small group or community in the sense that we would often think of them.

These are some random thoughts of mine. I would be interested to hear what others have to say and have experienced, too.

Our church is using a book by Larry Osborne, "Sticky Chirch", as it's basic small group format. Larry does suggest the mentoring of new leaders, so there is some splitting in a sense. But he also has a chapter in his book on why the grow and split model does not work (in North America) well. I highly recommend his book. He hits the nail on the head with so many issues I wasn't sure about. 

Thanks for the additional resources! 

Loved the book and did a 4 part series on Covenant and Kingdom at Discovery Church.  By the way there are free preaching resources on covenant and kingdom from 3DM.  Also used this book as an introduction to the bible and reformed theology.  

Thank you Dannell for sharing this. At CrossPoint you have done what most churches have not. You have created a unified and clear description and path of discipleship. It is very easy to understand and to understand where to go at Crosspoint to grow in one's next step with Jesus.

I would love to write a case study of CrossPoint some day. Have you all taken Reveal? It would be a helpful, statistically valid analysis of CrossPoint and to give a base to compare against fin the future to show amount of improvement--something for others interested in effective discipleship in the local congregation to see.

I realize that from one blog post I may not understand the whole picture. If I understand it correctly, I would challenge you to think more about the loving God with one's "mind" piece. I appreciate that you do not simply define mind as what one memorizes cognitively. Yet, loving with one's mind is more than becoming like Christ. It also contains the cognitive element. Various studies have shown that at least core theological beliefs such as God as a personal God and the authority of Scripture are an important part of a disciple's growth.

While you do not spell it out completely I expect that you would define "discipleship" as the act of growing greater/deeper one's love for God. If that is your definition of discipleship, I am not sure one can say worship and service each IS discipleship. They are each actions which are a result of one's growing deeper in love with Jesus--the result of discipleship. For some people service and/or worship are strong tools for growing as lovers of God. but not for everyone. We are each shaped differently and service for example is not as strong a discipler for some as it is for others.

All-in-all though this model is clear and easy for people to apply. Keep working it! Thank you for sharing.

Great review Rachel and good words Ben! The two things I would add is first, what Mike Breen says over and over again about how discipleship is the engine that drives missional living and missional communities. There's a lot of focus on MCs these days, and rightly so. But Breen is right that without discipleship at the center it's hard to have the power, sustainability or reproducibility you want to see in your missional work. A second comment is how much we're resonating with the biblical framework they provide for discipleship in their book, "Covenant and Kingdom: The DNA of the Bible." Very reformed! Very refreshing! Like Ben, we're using huddles and life shapes as one of our tools for discipleship with great response. As we live missionally these tools are helping us be like Jesus and do the things he did. 

I just started a Huddle this past week! I had a little anxiety as I started the huddle as it is a much more directive form of discipleship than what I've done in the past. But the four guys in my huddle responded well and seem excited to grow. I think Breen and co. are totally correct that there is a discipleship crisis in our church. It is one of our primary callings as pastors (along with preaching the word and administering the sacraments), but we tend to put all our eggs in the Sunday morning basket, and spend the rest of our energy on programs, while actually doing very little discipleship. I also think its clear that Sunday school and Christian school (even Christian college) are no substitute for the kind of discipleship that Jesus had in mind for us to be doing. You can go to Christian schools your whole life and not really be a disciple. I'm an example of that. I don't think I really learned how the gospel applied to my life in a practical way until a mentor discipled my wife and me during my first year in full time ministry (after seminary). This is not to say I didn't know my theology or know the Bible. Discipleship is more than learning information, right? It's walking with Jesus, obeying him, and becoming more like him as you enter into relationship with the Triune God.

This sounds wonderful! Please post a sample lesson for us to see!

Hi, I would like to hear more about this or if Mrs. Shirley is able to post or email a lesson that would be great. I found this through a google search when looking for information in how to start a story group for survivors of sexual abuse. I thought about this after reading "To be told" by Dan Allender. Also, I ran across the "Telling the stories of life through guided autobiography" by James Birren  and these are basically what I envisioned. I like the simple format of the Hook. Book. Look. Took. and obviously from the great turnout many others did as well. 

I like that this is not just a small groups story, that Danell explained how this is just one part of how this vision for Discipleship is implemented across multiple ministries. Thanks, Danell!

I organized one of these last August, a few weeks before several our our ministries re-started for the Fall season. A few weeks ahead of time, I contacted all the leaders of ministry and asked them to participate, and nearly all did. I created signs with bright colors with the "Fair" concept and purchased inexpensive ($1) plastic table cloths in assorted colors to place on the tables and suggested everyone have candy or some kind of giveaway to entice visitors to stop by.

I encouraged the leaders to provide information (a display) about their ministries and required them to have a brief "job description" of what is involved for someone volunteering in that ministry (our office staff helped with these, and we saved them so this will be easier next time!). I provided sign up sheets for each ministry so they could collect names of people who were interested.

Some ministries had clever giveaways, for example:

- "Free hairnets!" - from our ministry that helps serve meals at a local organization

- "We can always use 'S'MORE' volunteers" with a S'mores snack mix

- Our Sunday School ministry made a posterboard with a sample lesson plan so people could easily see what it would be like to teach.

- Our Cadets team brought out some of their activity gear (bows & arrows, tools, etc.)

We encouraged all church attenders to consider visiting the fair, not just because they might want to sign up, but to learn about the other ministries at the church so they could help direct guests or friends to a ministry that might serve them.

Overall, we did not end up with a lot of sign ups this time around, but overwhelmingly people appreciated the opportunity to learn about ministries. 

I also planned lunch for all the ministry leaders afterwards as a thank you for their service to the church and for helping with this event in particular.

Our Prayer Summit for Classis Alberta North is happening on the first Sunday of 2014.

More details at www.discovertrinity.net . On Facebook, look for "Lord, Hear Our Prayer: CAN Prayer Summit 2014"

 

Nate & Allen, awesome stuff... thought provoking to say the least.

@ Nate - I am realizing [-bowling reference coming-] the lane of orthodxy is much wider than what seminary taught.  There is a lot of room, but things can still jump into the gutter if not handled properly.  Really excited to see oversight by you and your elders... I think that's critical.   As for the slower aspect...I think slower is better.  Innovation feels great, but innovation unchecked and unordered leads to a fast start but major fizzle down the road.  Releasing missional communities should be like how we handle our children... tight at first, seasoned with grace, fully pushing them out the door, seasoned with grace.

@Allen - What's retirement?  Yes... the two paradigms are certainly at odds with each other, but the answer isn't one or the other, its BOTH / AND (bullet point above).  I am serving a church that has two churches in one.  They fit your paradigm description to the T.  I am convinced that each side needs to "seek understanding, before being understood."  The missional minded people and their directions leaves them isolated from a greater work of the Spirit and the institutional minded people and their directions leads to plateau and even death... So I affirm your vision work and dialogue with your church.  It's not easy and even downright frustrating.  The BOTH / AND is the solution... It's matter of truly asking ourselves, do we really believe the gospel and are we willing to live it out?  If so, both paradigms can live in harmony.  In fact, are dependent on each other.  Which in turn, IMHO, has been the bibical approach all along.  There is nothing new under the sun... 

I don't know much about the the immigrant church, so I can't really comment.  Drawing from the name you've given them, doesn't the immigrant church already have mission in their DNA or they wouldn't have been looking for something better...or bigger...or deeper... a greater expression of the Kingdom? 

 

Sorry I meant to say, "discerning the institutional church's role in all of this."

This stuff if very timely for me as well, Brian.  Kudos on going for the DMin.  I thought about it, but decided I wanted to enjoy my last 15 years before official retirement age -- although I hope I don't HAVE to then.  Anyway, I am in process of discerning the church's (institution) in all off this.  I wonder if there are not some opposing paradigms in the midst of all this that are creating the strain between the "Mission" communities and "Church" communities.  The MC believes they are being church in the intentional everyday, the way it was originally intended with a gathering once a week or every-so-often to corporately celebrate the Spirit's work.  On the other hand, those in the "Church" institution see church more as a place and an event led by the scholars and layity who know their stuff, thus minimizing the need for the rest to "really know their stuff".  Discipleship is minimized and Church is separated from the everyday being on mission to, if nothing else, just living a good moral life.  Those are two very different paradigms at odds with each other.  

How does an immigrant church community see themselves on mission if it was never in their DNA from the outset?  Mission then becomes a program (outreach), is something you sign up for and do from time to time. But like the institutional church, mission is a separate entity from your life -- a thing on your list of things to do.  It's not part and parcel of who you ARE, your identity, like it seemed to be for those early Christians.
 

So my question then is how do we connect those two paradigms in a healthy way and is it even possible?

Good thoughts, Brian.  Now that I understand your initial question better, I would also add that our MCs are coached by the pastor (me) and are accountable to the elders.  I sometimes think we worry too much about heresy springing up in things we don't tightly control.  The goal of our MCs is to announce God's kingdom and make disciples.  As long as there is strong accountablilty to that goal, I believe orthodoxy will take care of itself.  MCs described by the names you mentioned are indeed more like house churches.  Soma Communities are a good example of MCs that have a strong tie to an organization.  I wonder, however, if this makes them slower to multiply?

Great thread on a timely and necessary discussion, especailly for the CRC.

I am currently working on my D.min at Fuller Seminary around this whole community idea, but that doesn't make me an expert in any way.  I am pleased to see something unfold in Larry's comment and Nate's as well.  Both have expressed that there is at least, in someway, the idea that the Missional Communities that have formed or are being formed, are tying back into the larger congregation.  Standing on the window sill of this massive conversation looking out at the landscape, if connection to the originating congregation doesn't happen, something tragic will be on THE CHURCH'S doorstep before we know it.  The unintentional killing off of thousands of churches all for the sake of being missional.  Let's not forget what has brought us this far.

The idea of missional communities, if practiced the way people like Guder, McNeal, Van Gelder, Zscheile, etc. are promoting, then lets call them what they are.  Church plants.  But keep in mind, it's inevitible that missional communities are going to need some sort of institutional or organizational capacity or things like theology and sacrament will derail faster than my fantasy football team at crunch time.  Culture has a sneaky powerful way of shaping any community that is relying on the hospitality of the stranger or "target" of the missional community.  Jesus can quickly become something other than Jesus because we are all broken and fleshly.  Hence, IMHO, the NEED to tie into the larger church.  Accountability with the rule of faith and life is necessary, but accountability is taboo in our me first culture.

two more cents...

   

 

Home Missions is partnering with ECO Presbyterian (a new presbyterian denomination) in creating a pathway to bring missional communities into established churches. We had our first gathering/training a couple of weeks ago. ECO is having Faith Alive both edit and publish the materials.  One of the very good things about the ECO missional community strategy is that is has both training and coaching for those who are establishing missional communities. Also because it is working with established congregations it seems to have a good feel for how to bring MCs into that context. This work is just beginning but we hope to see it ramp up in the next 6-8 months.

This is a good discussion on this.  It is heavy on my heart and plate. I've been trying to see if our church could even get back to the missional community aspect of the church.  I long for this in myself.  We already live like this and have begun to more intentionally form a missional community.  Our people don't know what to make of the way we live.  When I bring up the Missional Community to our leadership they look at me with blank stares and wonder what planet I'm from. They're in a programatic mode. I encourage reading.  I can't get anyone to look into this with any sort of desire or initiative.  I'm personally struggling with this and whether or not God is saying something new to my wife and me.

We discovered that about 5% of our congregation had the pre-existing qualifications to lead an MC.  I'll get 2, maybe 3 MCs out of that.  So I've started a process of developing missional leaders that can lead an MC down the road.  It's hard to have patience, but I believe that God will use what we're doing now in wonderful ways in 5 years.  All that to say I really believe you have to start with the leaders and build from there.

Sam, I think I understand what you mean by the term "missional community strategy."  But I want to be clear that I don't see MCs as just another strategy (like direct mail or seeker sensitive worship).  For us, it is the future of our congregation.  It's more than a way to reach unchurched people.  I believe it's what God is leading us to become - a congregation of MCs.

It was interesting to talk to different people at the conference. People are applying the missional community strategy in a variety of ways. One leader told me they learned that they needed to start with vision. They wanted to launch 25 MC's. It didn't work. they regrouped and discovered 12 leaders with a very specific mission focus - local elementary school, a neighborhood, or a topic like homeless people, etc.. People gathered around the vision into 12 MC's of varying size. Some MC's have two or three groups (about 30 - 40 people) others have 8 - 12.

Hi Brian,

We've been able to maintain a pretty strong connection to the group we sent into the apartment community.  Many of them still attend our Sunday worship service regularly.  We've released them from the ways they were volunteering within the congregation so they could focus on the neighborhood.  But we still see them regularly on Sunday morning.  We make a point of praying for this group in our congregational prayers.  We also try to get a brief update from one of them about once a month during our worship service.

Some of the people from the apartment complex have started coming to our worship service, but most who meet with this group do not.  We were clear that our goal was not to get people to come to our worship services, but simply to help them find a spiritual community on their own turf.  I hope this helps.

This is quite interesting to me... my one questions however, is how does this missional community tie back into the larger church from which it was sent?  Is that even an option or desired within the MC? 

We've drawn on a lot of stuff from 3DM.  Our iteration of MCs is probably a little more oriented around a network or neighborhood than 3DM.  We've decided to start with a missional context, while their MCs start with the community of people in the MC.  So many different ways to skin this cat.  

Allen, if you ever want to talk more, feel free to contact me.

Hi Allen,

What are your thoughts about launching missional communities in a rural setting? Any ideas?

I attended the 3DM Discipleship and Mission conference in Holland this week. I learned (again) contextualizing is very important. The session leaders make it seem like there is a one size fits all strategy, but as I talked with them I learned they all are adapting the concepts to fit their unique situation. I asked one leader if they only have missional communities.  He said they tried that and learned quickly they needed other types of groups. They have missional communities AND alpha, parenting groups, etc. Good to know

Great to hear.  I've been processing for quite some time now how this may be possible in a more rural setting.

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