The foundational mark of a MC is that there is a three-way focus on loving God (Family), loving each other (Missionary), and loving the world (Servant). This focus reflects the two greatest commandments (loving God and loving your neighbor – Mark 12:30-31), and the Great Commission (going out and making disciples- Matthew 28:19-20). Pursuing two out of three will not suffice here. We want to passionately pursue all three areas of focus. This was the model of Christ and the early church.
Loving God (Family)
God wants our ultimate worship. Our goal is to pursue God with passion and to live out the teachings of Christ. Pursuit of God and intimacy with him can be practiced in many ways. It is a life of obedience and love to the Father. It is a lifestyle of worship. Some of the many ways this will be practiced in the MC is through application of the Bible, worship through song, prayer, communion, meditation, Scripture reading, and a host of other things that have a focus on God.
Bible: Smaller settings like Missional Communities are atmospheres where everyone can participate in the discussion. This will be more conducive to a “facilitator” who facilitates the discussion and content, rather than just someone who imparts information. This will mean various people will share thoughts and ideas that may be different from one another. As long as a spirit of humility exists and submission to God’s word as authority is preserved, it can be healthy to challenge ideas, thus, motivating one another to study God’s word further. A good facilitator will be known by his or her ability to get many people involved in a discussion and yet direct the time to a constructive point that can be applied to real life.
Worship: Worship is an important part of an MC. There are many ways worship can be expressed in the MC setting. It can be the music, through prayer, through testimonies, etc. We encourage you to be creative in how your worship God together.
Communion: The early church regularly participated in the Lords Supper. The disciples often ate together within their homes while building relationships, and then after the meal participated in sharing the bread and cup, which represented Jesus’ body and blood. The MC setting is a great environment to both eat together and take communion together. The frequency of these practices will be determined by each MC individually.
Prayer: Since prayer is how we communicate with God, prayer is essential practice for MC group. Prayer should be apart of everything you do as an MC. Whether that be worship, sharing the Word together, seeking the Spirit’s direction, or serving those whom you are called to, everything your group does should be saturated with prayer.
Loving Each Other(Missionary)
In the body of Christ, God calls us to love one another. We are an extended family of spiritual brothers, sisters, moms, dads, sons, and daughters. As we are pursuing devotion to God and the advancement of his kingdom in the world, we are to meet one another’s needs along the way. This will take place in the MC through various means.
One Another: Scripture is filled with language on how we are to love and serve one another. Here is the language used throughout the New Testament:
- Be devoted to one another (Rom. 12:10)
- Honor one another (Rom. 12:10)
- Harmony with one another (Rom. 12:16)
- Don’t judge one another (Rom. 14:13)
- Accept one another (Rom. 15:7)
- Instruct one another (Rom. 15:14)
- Greet one another (Rom. 16:16)
- Agree with one another (I Cor. 1:10)
- Serve one another (Gal. 5:13)
- Bear with one another (Eph. 4:2)
- Be kind/compassionate to one another (Eph. 4:32)
- Forgive one another (Eph. 4:32)
- Speak/Sing Songs to one another (Eph. 5:19)
- Submit to one another (Eph. 5:21)
- Teach one another (Col. 3:16)
- Admonish one another (Col. 3:16)
- Encourage one another (I Thes. 5:11)
- Spur on one another (Heb. 10:24)
- Don’t slander one another (Jas. 4:11)
- Be hospitable to one another (I Pet. 4:9)
- Be humble to one another (I Pet. 5:5)
- Fellowship with one another (I Jn 1:7)
- Be at peace with one another (Mk 9:50)
- Wait for one another (I Cor. 11:33)
- Have equal concern for one another (ICor. 12:25)
- Don’t provoke/envy one another (Ga.5:26)
- Don’t lie to one another (Col. 3:9)
- Don’t grumble against one another (Jas.5:9)
- Confess sin to one another (Jas. 5:16)
- Pray for one another (Jas. 5:16)
- Love one another (Jn 13:34)
Caring for one another: Care is best handled among people who have relationships with one another. If someone is hospitalized, those within the MC will be the ones better than anyone else who can minister. This would involve visitation at the hospital, helping out with meals if necessary, and being available in times of need.
Praying for one another: Everyone needs prayer and every believer has access to God through prayer. We should be praying for one another. As prayer needs come up within our lives, those who know us and have a relationship with us, will be the most natural people to pray on our behalf. Supporting one another in prayer is best practiced within the context of a MC. This will naturally happen as relationships deepen.
Assisting one another: Everyone falls on hard times on occasion. Whether it is a financial need or other needs that jeopardize the basic necessities of life such as food, clothing, and shelter, those within the MC can come together and help meet those needs. This may require an occasional pooling of some resources to help a fellow believer. For financial needs that exceed what would be reasonable for a group of families to handle, the Church can be called upon to possibly assist with areas of food, clothing, and shelter as well connections throughout the community.
Serving one another: Ephesians 4 tells us that every person in the body of Christ is needed and has been equipped by God to contribute to the body of Christ. An aspect of loving one another is serving one another. Because Missional Communities are much smaller than the large church gatherings, it is more difficult to remain anonymous or simply stand by and let others serve in ministry. The goal in the MC is that nearly everyone contributes in some way. One person may oversee the prayer ministry, another may oversee the worship, another may oversee the congregational care aspect of ministry, another may be in charge of organizing the meals, another may be responsible for helping set up outreach events, etc. Everyone can serve and is called to serve. Because there is no set standard for how the MC needs to be organized, these may be roles that are established or it may be on an “as needed” basis. Regardless, the goal is that it does not fall on the leaders, but everyone shares the load.
Loving the World (Servant)
Our missional communities are the church on mission. The MCs mission is the organizing principle of the group.
Unique Missional Focus: Because every MC will have a unique mix of people, the group will have a unique passion for outreach. Each MC will have one focused area of outreach. Some examples of a missional focus could be: ministry to a specific ethnic group, ministry at a women’s shelter in the area, ministry to teens, ministry to single mothers, reaching parents of child’s sports team, ministry to the homebound, jail ministry, nursing home, ministry to reach a certain neighborhood, ministry to military families who have a spouse/parent serving overseas, etc. Each MC will be asked to establish one missional focus that will help target a focused area. The clearer the missional focus, the more vibrant the Missional Community is! One of your main responsibilities as an MC leader is to establish your group’s missional focus.
Sharing the Gospel: The Bible teaches us that God loves everyone and wants all people to experience the salvation He offers in Jesus Christ (2 Pet. 3:9). We are committed to “making disciples” by sharing God’s message of love, forgiveness, and eternal life to as many people as possible, especially those we meet daily in “our world.” We want to see people come to repentance and faith in Christ. A significant aspect of MC is a commitment to reaching others in Christ. This will be accomplished by the MC through their missional focus, by non-Christians participating in the life of the group, and by non-Christians experiencing the love of Christ from the group. It should be the desire of every MC to grow by new conversions to Christ.
Serving the Community: We want to be salt and light in the world as we represent a God of compassion and justice. This happens when we serve those in the community and especially when we defend the poor, the widow, the alien, the refugee, the unborn, the elderly, the disabled, the orphan, the oppressed, and the marginalized in our society. We want to go beyond ourselves and reflect compassion and love to a hurting world. There are many ways a MC can serve the community.