How to…occupy social space as a Missional Community

The term “social space” is borrowed from a theory within sociology which identifies different sized groupings that form community.   Social space describes the extended-family sized group that we have identified as a missing ingredient in many mission strategies.  This is the grouping of between 15 and 40 people that is small enough to care but big enough to dare.  The kind of group where everyone can know each others name and a bit about their life,  but not so small that joining in would be awkward for a new person.

We believe social space is the ideal size for Missional Communities, but not all start at that size. They grow.

Here are some thoughts about how to grow a community into social space around 5 C’s.

Context:  Good MCs are clear about the context they are trying to reach.  Ask yourself where social space already exists and how could you inhabit that authentically?   If there’s nothing there yet what could you build that might serve the context best?
Hills Rock 4

Combine:   One or more smaller MCs in a church could combine to create something bigger together from time to time.  A pair of communities could do this twice a month for a period of time and each end up with a really good social-sized monthly event to help them grow and invite people of peace into.

We would offer one health warning with this strategy however;  if we just approach this with the mindset of “who can I get to help my MC grow” then we’ll probably end up frustrated and disappointed.  Feel free to invite other MCs to combine with you but, even better than that, do be thinking about which other MCs your community might be able to help serve.

Celebrate:  Churches and communities that learn how to celebrate well are more likely to be attractive to other people.  How well does your MC party?   Can you get better at celebration?

Cast vision: At every opportunity within your MC cast the vision of what a fully grown MC would look like.  What is the purpose, passion and adventure you’re asking people to join – is it clear and can you and those within your MC articulate it easily?

Create: If you are starting small as a community with perhaps 6-8 of you, you can ‘act up’ into the social size you want to become.  For example, if you want to be a community which meets in a local cafe then you can begin to do that even with a few of you.  Getting people into the mindset of meeting outside of a home by actually doing it can really help.

One Missional Community we know of are about to start a coffee and chat morning in the local community centre for their neighbourhood.  There are only 6 of them at the moment so they have asked another MC to help them by doing some of the behind the scenes stuff like making the serving the coffee so that their priority can be welcoming and chatting to people.  That’s a great example of 2 MCs combining together to occupy a social sized space!