Foundations for MCs: Building a Discipling Culture at the heart of MCs
At the heart of the Missional Communities movement is a rekindling of the primary commission Jesus gave us which was to ‘go and make disciples of all nations’ (Matthew 28:19). The main purpose of MCs is not to create a series of events but to grow an extended family who are being disciples and making disciples. Jesus did not tell us to build the church – that’s His job. We are to make disciples of all peoples.
“At the core of every effective Missional Community is a culture of discipleship. Far more important than the infrastructure we put in place or the rhythms we establish is the culture we are growing in our MC through rhythm and infrastructure. Culture trumps programmes or events every time.”
Leading Missional Communities, Chapter 2
So what do we mean by that?
A culture is like the environment in which something exists. What is the environment like in your MC? Are people growing in that environment? Are people becoming more like Jesus and can others see that too? We are supposed to disciple each other. Proverbs 27:17 comes to mind “As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another.”
So, what might that look like in an MC? Here are some of my thoughts.
- We want people to grow in character (becoming like Jesus) and competency (doing what Jesus does). An MC is a perfect environment for both of those things to happen if there is honest accountability to each other and opportunity to practice these things.
- Invite people to share their whole lives with each other, not just the good bits. People need to see us in our ups and downs – how else will they learn how to trust Jesus in the valley if they don’t see someone else going through it before them? Creating an environment where people can be vulnerable with each other is important.
- Share life together. Let other people see your family life, your recreation, your work life even, so that we are discipling people in a whole-life discipleship. Jesus didn’t have a ‘sacred/secular’ mindset and neither should we. Use a variety of contexts to disciple one another; don’t just assume it has to be done in a small group/bible study/formal setting. Watch, eat, talk, play, pray, work and rest together.
- Really grapple with the Bible. Don’t just skim over passages with the ‘Sunday School’ answers. Really get to grips together with what it looks like to do what Jesus did, not just know what Jesus did. Remember it’s not about being a good Bible teacher necessarily, it’s about asking the questions of the Bible that lead us to change and grow such as ‘What is God saying to me’ and ‘What am I going to do about it?’
- People probably learn more by doing than acquiring information about something. If you’re reading about a healing story then put it into practice by praying for each other regularly in all contexts and challenge each other to pray for people of peace too! An MC is also a great place to try out spiritual gifts in a safe environment.
- Don’t forget the children and young people! They are just as capable (if not more so) of being disciples of Jesus than us adults. Work out ways that help whole families to grow in real relationship with Father, Son and Holy Spirit together. We are aiming to build an authentic extended family which must include all ages. Don’t forget to include them in mission too! For more on this check out Rich Robinson’s blogpost on Families in MCs.
“A discipleship culture is about encouraging and cultivating the development of a missional lifestyle (faith and the centre of everything we do) rather than missional events (faith at the centre of events we organise)”.
Leading Missional Communities Chapter 2
Helen Askew lives in Harrogate, North Yorkshire along with her two young children and husband Ben who has just been ordained as a Pioneer Curate. She has been part of and led Missional Communities for over 12 years. They work for Kairos Church and also with 3DM UK from time to time!