Our Mission, Our Story
Welcome to the first of our new blog posts! Our Mission, Our Story is a theme we will keep returning to as a blogging team. We’ve asked our contributors to write about the story of the Missional Community they currently lead (or one they have led in the past). We hope that these posts inspire you as to the variety and creativity that can exist in MCs and encourage you in your journey!
Please do leave comments to ask questions to the writer – to clarify or ask them to explain more about something they’ve said.
To give a little bit of context first, our Missional Community (MC) is part of St Thomas Church Philadelphia, in Sheffield. There are about 20 adults and half a dozen young children, and we are a mix of toddlers, pre-schoolers, young adults, families and singles. The community is led by a group of 6 (3 couples).
We have chosen to orientate our lives so that we live a life of faith together, seek God together, study the Word together, eat together, celebrate together, cry together and serve together. We aim for a community with longevity, where people are truly known and we want to see God’s Kingdom come in our lives, our families, our workplaces and our local community (we all live in the same part of the city).
One thing we love to do is search for the places where God is making connections between us and stirring the same things in our hearts, and then take steps of faith to bring those ideas and stirrings into being. In this way, we don’t expect that everyone will be involved in everything at the same time, but that different people will connect with different expressions of the life of the community at different times. Some of these expressions are to do with the community’s life of faith (there are groups who lead Bible studies, groups of people who host times of ‘soaking’ / contemplation / prayer etc); some things relate more to building relationships within the community (mentoring relationships, weekends away together); and other expressions that engage with life outside of our community (at the moment there are people leading a craft group for people of faith / no faith, planning a gospel-guerilla-artwork project, visiting another local church to teach and encourage etc).
We don’t want clear cut boundaries around our MC, but hope that there will increasingly be people from the wider community who connect with us through these different expressions, in ways that ‘fit’ well with them. We are already seeing this as friendships are being built at the craft group, relationships are growing through specific ‘mission days’ to the local community, and through friends and colleagues joining us in the activities of community life. A colleague of one member started coming along to eat with us and joining us at social times, and has now started coming to some of our whole-group meetings. He is beginning to talk about God. Another example is a young man in the area who has had a difficult start to life and been in trouble with the police. He joined us on our last mission day collecting people’s rubbish to take to the tip, and the community will now be getting behind him to help pay for him to start an apprenticeship scheme with a local Christian carpenter.
As a final note, we have been really inspired by the New Monasticism movement, and have found a pattern for meeting together based around the patterns seen in monastic communities past and present. If you’d like to know more about this, or any other aspect of our MC, please use the comments facility to ask!
Sarah Cooper lives in Sheffield, UK with her husband, and their two small children. She works as a Speech and Language Therapist and for St Thomas Church Philadelphia, and leads a Missional Community with her husband and two other couples.