I was thinking recently about how at our church in Sheffield we are one body of people who both gather and go; we regularly come together to be sent back out again. This gathering and sending happens within MCs as well as in the way that MCs relate to what goes on at the central campus.
As I was pondering the unique way our church works, the following picture came to mind, along with the thought that “Communities are LIMBS.”
The central resource base is like a torso with lots going on inside – a place we can come to in order to celebrate with our wider family, encounter God with a larger group of people and be equipped and resourced. Communities on the other hand are limbs, the moving parts that give the body its mission-reach. They are the primary place of belonging for people, as well as the primary place for mission, discipleship and developing leaders.
I think LIMBS, when used as an acronym, expresses the values that are most important to Missional Communities:
L ove and service motivated
M ission and Discipleship
B eing Family
S ent & Sending
Let’s have a look at the first one – Love & service motivated.
1 John 4:8b says that “GOD IS LOVE.” Surely these are 3 of the most important words in the whole of scripture! John 13:35 says that it is “by our love” that the world will know we are his disciples. Luke 22:27b also says that Jesus came among us as “one who serves” and that the greatest among us is the “servant of all”. (Luke 22:26)
We can’t give away what we haven’t first received, which is why it’s so vital that we constantly prioritise spending time in His loving presence and inviting Him into all the details of our lives.
The unconditional, no change required love we enjoy from our heavenly Father has to extend beyond ourselves and be a seeking, welcoming and embracing love for those new to our community and outside of it.
Loving others is costly and sacrificial – love is not self-serving but serves the interests of others and considers them above ourselves. (1 Cor 13, Phil 2:3.4) Who is God calling you to love and serve, at personal cost to yourself?
As Paul makes clear, without God’s 1 Cor 13 type of love we are “nothing.” My prayer is that we would be people and communities who are known for our love and servant hearts above all else.
We’ll unpack the other values in future blog posts!
Lindsay Lonchar is part of the Communities and Training Team at St Thomas’ Church Philadelphia in Sheffield and is also training to become a Baptist Minister.