Real Life Discipleship: Predictable Patterns
One of the things we encourage Missional Communities to develop is their own rhythm of predictable patterns. A predictable pattern is something that we might do regularly in our lives, like starting each day with a morning Bible reflection or having a Sunday roast once a week.
In our communities, predictable patterns are powerful tools for creating a safe environment where discipleship can happen easily. We might have patterns that involve engaging with God, with each other and with mission.
Why have predictable patterns?
- They make people feel secure – the regularity of activities means people know what to expect and when
- They turn our ideals into reality – having a rhythm of prayer, community and mission means that those things are much more likely to happen
- They make organisation easier and help people know when and how to join in
I live with three other girls, and we wanted to feel like a family together. So we committed to spending one evening a week together, and to breakfast and prayer daily. It felt like a very small start.
But having the discipline in place has meant that we’ve gone beyond good intentions and actually spent time with each other and prayed. And the fact that we know it will happen at the same times every week creates a very secure environment – we know we’re committed to doing certain things with each other at certain times. It’s predictable.
We also know when not to plan other things. With less organisation there is much more energy to concentrate on the really important things like caring for each other, having fun together, listening to God and pressing on in mission.
That discipline has created an environment where we’ve been able to open up to each other, grown in trust and got close. And now we’re growing our family! We invite others in to breakfast and prayers, and have earmarked a regular dinnertime for the wider community and people who don’t know God yet to join us.
Of course, not all our communities are like us – e.g. when you have children your week is likely to look a little different! One of our family communities has tea together every other week in a local supermarket café, and they invite their people of peace. The other week it’s just two families having a quick family dinner and a pray at home. Another community eats dinner altogether, then the kids (with designated leaders) and adults meet separately.
One of the best ways to get started is to look at what rhythms you have already, and to think about whether you could build on them. Involving people in your everyday activities makes it feel less like a chore and more like including people in what you were going to do anyway.
So if you have a family, could you invite some others to join your family meal once a week? Or if you always go to the park at the weekend, what about inviting some close friends from your community? If you’re a single person, what might it look like to have a regular pattern of doing things with others?
Catherine Findley is the Missional Communities Team Leader at Westwood Church Coventry.