Real Life Discipleship: Deeper Relationships
If you lead a community how do you plan? When I first learnt to lead I thought planning involved sitting waiting to hear from God. Listening to God is of course essential! But I could often be found on a Sunday feeling stressed that I had no idea what to do with the group that day. As I shared this experience with my leaders they wisely taught me a tool known as the TRIANGLE that has come to shape my own life and that of communities I lead.
In today’s blog we look at how Missional Communities centre their rhythms using the tool of the TRIANGLE to enable GROWTH and DEPTH in relationships.
In the gospels we can see that Jesus had three great loves and thus three distinct dimensions to his life:
UP: Deep and connected relationship to his Father and attentiveness to the leading of the Holy Spirit.
IN: Constant investment in the relationships with those around him, his disciples.
OUT: Entering into the brokenness of the world to see people come into relationship with the Father and see systems of injustice transformed.
This three dimensional pattern needs to be expressed in the life of Missional Communities. We are not talking about a series of events for people to attend or a meeting divided into UP, IN and OUT times, but about planning over a longer period of time, a month or a term perhaps, and creating rhythms and routines that allow us to connect with God (UP), with each other (IN), and with those in our mission context (OUT). It will need to include regular times of prayer, worship, eating together, sharing stories, having fun, meeting new people and practical service.
More than ten years on this tool helps me plan the rhythms of my family, my household and the community I lead. Recently as we reviewed our family rhythms my husband in his organised way decided to colour code our family activities in our diary planner using these three dimensions. If you are new to this I recommend starting with a month grid with seven days across the top and four weeks down the side and thinking through when your family or community will pray and worship, when you will eat together, when you will go places that help you meet new people and when you can serve practically.
I finish with two common errors I’ve observed. The first is not quite getting round to the OUT. Many Christians have seen small groups modelled without an OUT dimension and so it can be harder to imagine what this might be like. If you are stuck here then perhaps try serving together at an existing community project once or twice a month. The other error is not enough fun! Do you laugh together often? We need to learn to balance our lives with both play and purpose.
Our communities will likely reflect our own balance of UP, IN and OUT. Thinking of your own life what is the current balance of UP, IN and OUT? How about the balance of mission and fun? Are you more likely to create groups with a strong culture of purpose or with much laughter? How might you need to adapt your rhythms in light of these observations?
Jenny Irvine, together with her husband Gareth and young daughter Jessica, lead a fairly new missional community base called Saint Aidan’s in the north of the city of Coventry. They’ve taken a small team of young adults with them, to live as in incarnational community focused around prayer and mission. They are currently involved in Kidz Klub which works with children from challenging housing estates, and visit about 30 families each week on the estate where they live.