But How Can I Make Missional Communities Work With…? Part Two
This is the second part to a post published last week which asked the question
Are the principles of Missional Communities really transferable?
Today, Ben gives some more response to that question.
I’m convinced that communities of people who follow Jesus and seek to make disciples can grow up and flourish anywhere in any setting. As I said in my last post, leading any community is challenging but possible, so get rid of the assumptions that say this or that place won’t work.
That said each different context is going to require different work to make a missional community work. Where there are some principles that can be very helpful in helping your communities become strong and healthy (we would wholeheartedly recommend the 3DM Resources here) the practice of your community life together needs contextualization. By that I mean you need to make it right for the people and place that you are called to reach.
We have some friends who are leading a network of Missional Communities in Peru; I love following their updates and hearing their stories. What they are ending up with is in many ways different to the network of MCs that I’m part of leading here in Harrogate: different, but the same.
In fact, even here in Harrogate we are seeing that each community has to do the work of making it work for their people and their context. As a result we are ending up with a number of different shapes and sizes of community. One looks much more like a social enterprise, doing up bikes and selling them for charity. Another seems that one of its key aims is to one day win the local pub quiz. A third seem to mainly eat big meals together. One is trying to build links with our toddler group, another meets around movie nights and computer games. As well as diversity of activity there is a real range of sizes and patterns too. Because the context shapes the practice.
So how do you learn how to build for your context? Well the good news is you are close to some experts. The people who best know how to build your community are you, your team and the people of peace you are finding. You and they know the area, you can come up with a good idea of what will and won’t work.
I’ve found some of the resources from Fresh Expressions really helpful in this area. They talk about listening to God in four directions –
1. Through prayer and as you read the Bible and listen to the Holy Spirit.
2. Through getting to know people in the area you are trying to reach and hearing what is important to them.
3. Through conversations with friends and local churches who can be asked to pray for you and offer feedback on what you are doing.
4. Through investigating the wider church and learning how people have done what you are trying to do before.
I find this really helpful and sensible advice (if you do you can get a bit more from their Share Booklet – What Should We Start?).
Where are you called to create missional community? How are you learning to contextualise what God has given you?
Ben Askew lives in Harrogate UK with his wife Helen and their family. He is Pioneer Curate at Kairos Network Church, an Anglican fresh expression seeking to plant Missional Communities across the Harrogate area.
The grass image oringinally comes from Creation Swap.