Most commonly skipped steps in MCs: Stop, Look, Listen
Today we are re-posting one of Mike Breen’s most recent blog posts from our US counterpart website, 3DM. There will be a new Missional Communities book released this Autumn and details of how you can get hold of it in the UK will be posted here so keep an eye out!
Here is an excerpt from this new book exploring one of the most commonly skipped steps when starting Missional Communities.
STOP, LOOK, LISTEN
But what we really need to do is hear from the Lord and let his Spirit show us the way. He has shaped us in particular ways and he has already been at work, preparing the harvest fields. MCs cannot simply be a good idea or a new program. They must be rooted in vision for mission and a passion birthed in the heart of a leader though prayer.
Consider this passage from Acts 16:6-10:
Paul and his companions traveled throughout the region of Phrygia and Galatia, having been kept by the Holy Spirit from preaching the word in the province of Asia. When they came to the border of Mysia, they tried to enter Bithynia, but the Spirit of Jesus would not allow them to. So they passed by Mysia and went down to Troas. During the night Paul had a vision of a man of Macedonia standing and begging him, “Come over to Macedonia and help us.” After Paul had seen the vision, we got ready at once to leave for Macedonia, concluding that God had called us to preach the gospel to them.
The reason Paul was traveling in the first place was because of his passion to see the good news of Jesus reach those who far away from his home base of Antioch. In the course of working out this vision, it seems obvious that Paul had a plan of going into Mysia, but he was sensitive enough to the Spirit to know when his good idea needed to end because the Spirit had better perspective on what doors were actually open and what was actually needed.
As we look to launch MCs, that has to be a bedrock belief. We have to honestly believe that apart from the Spirit, we can do nothing. Our ideas, intellect, plans and hopes are worthless if done without the Spirit’s leading. What we’ve seen in America’s über-entrepreneurial culture is that this can be a hard lesson to learn (sometimes it’s the failure of a MC that does it for us). So if we could advise anything from the beginning, it would be to take time to seek the leading of God’s Spirit for the vision of your MC and allow him to shape where you’re being sent and how the vision will incarnate itself in that context.
We said earlier that if the MC is the missional vehicle, then discipleship is the engine. We might also say that the Holy Spirit is the fuel in the engine, and prayer is the internal combustion that makes the whole thing go!
The two simple questions to ask in prayer are:
1) God, who are you sending us to?
Remember that we are typically called to either a neighborhood or a network of relationships. Most of the time God will reveal this to you by bringing you a Person of Peace from that neighborhood or network.
2) What is good news to those people?
Once we find the Person of Peace, we begin to ask the Gospel question: What is the good news for this group of people? What aspect of the gospel will speak to their hearts most powerfully? How can we live out the message of Jesus and also talk about Jesus effectively? In other words, how do we show them and tell them the good news of Jesus?
Also, consider the questions below (a “Passion Audit”), which we often use to help MC leaders determine where God is calling them.
- What are your heart’s desires? What are you passionate about? What excites you (kids, environment, people, family, healing, etc)?
- What is your holy discontent? What grieves or saddens you? What do you see and think “that’s not fair!” (kids on street corners, litter, abuse, families breaking up, etc.)
- What are the opportunities? Where are there places of grace, influence and invitation?
- What are the needs of the community? Where could you be a blessing/good news to the local community?
- What have you heard from God? What has God said in the past, through Scripture and other people, about the present or the future?
As you begin to pray through those questions, and begin building the discipling culture of your MC, you will begin to see how to structure your MC in appropriate ways. If we start with passion and vision for mission, birthed in prayer, the logistical and details questions become clearer.