Modern Family: Missional Community

What is the one thing you have ever accomplished with a group that gave you great fulfillment?

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This month’s series is Modern Family. We are learning together what it means to be a thriving part of God’s family. In the first week we learnt from Jesus that we can accomplish God’s purposes with a diverse, authentic and missional group. 

Last week we learnt that community happens when commitment wins over convenience. Many great achievements around the world have been accomplished through teams or groups of people coming together to accomplish a certain task. Even the so called solo sports need coaches, doctors, managers etc. Being part of a team is very important. Imagine walking from Naivasha to Nairobi alone?  In fact, when you are a member of a team that works together, we can accomplish more than we can accomplish all alone. . It is important that a business learn to work together as a team, and it is just as important for the church community to learn to work together as a team. Dramatic things happen when people come together.

The first thing Jesus asked of people was to connect with HIM and Connect with each other.” I love that. It’s so simple. Anyone can connect. It doesn’t require anything from us but our time. Jesus said, if you want to find purpose and significance it starts by being with me and other believers. When you connect you suddenly become available to what God is doing. The odds are suddenly in your favor when you connect. But when choose to isolate yourself and disconnect from a community, the odds of success go way down. It’s like this microphone.

Here in Mavuno we urge all our members to connect to a community called Lifegroups (This are our small groups that meet every week). “What’s the purpose of our Lifegroups? What’s the end game?  Why should I commit to LG?

To answer that question we turn back to Jesus and his group of men. We want to take a look at what became of this group of people at the end of Jesus life, and afterwards. Let’s read Mark 16:15-20

Mavuno, God is calling us as a church to an incredible life of risk and adventure to reject that civilized, domesticated faith that can so easily settle in our Lifegroups and to join with Him as He passionately pursues a bride from among the neighborhoods and the nations of the world. It will require risk and boldness and courage and yet I know there is a rumbling inside of us as a church reminding us that who we are is about something more than just “doing church” on a Sunday morning.

May be you are asking yourself, “What is the difference between a Lifegroup on a mission and a ‘kawaida’ Lifegroup? Let me dive into the distinctions…

1.Friendships Versus Mission

Ordinary Lifegroups focus on friendships as their goal. Before I make some folks upset, it’s also important for me to note that One of the greatest needs in many churches is “community.” As we have connected people, I find they’re mostly seeking friendships that will spur them towards Christ. That desire is good and godly . . . I want the same thing! But I long for a community where you get together and go, “Hey, how can we help people? How can we show love?”  The danger in a Lifegroup aiming for community, though, is that it typically becomes the destination. Once relationships have been established, and the need for friends has been met, that’s the way a Lifegroup group stays. Community on this side of heaven isn’t primarily about us though. Community is about God’s love being displayed to the world. Missional Lifegroups see the purpose of their friendship, love, and unity to be testament of God’s love to their neighbors.

 2.Information Versus Obedience

Many of us have been a part of a Bible study at some point in our Christian lives. Typically, these groups read the Bible for a set period of time on a specific day of the week. Bible studies are often great things, but they don’t constitute a missional community in its entirety. So what’s the difference? The short answer is that a Lifegroup on a mission is not a Bible study, but a Lifegroup on a mission studies the Bible. The distinction is primarily in expectations: a Lifegroup on a mission expects that an individual is participating in the community to obey after learning whereas someone comes to a ‘kawaida’ LG to learn without acting out their faith.  Certainly people need to study the Bible, but to study the Bible without engaging in God’s mission is a fool’s errand. The purpose of studying the Bible is indeed to learn about God and conform us to the image of Christ, but it’s also to equip us for the work of ministry in the church (community) and outside the church (mission).

3.Consumers Versus Contributors

Our Lifegroups are primarily groups of around 12 people who gather weekly together to connect, worship, go through the sermons, and pray for one another.  I’ve had great experiences in this kind of group. But I’ve often found there is a significant struggle to invite others to join in, and it’s often difficult to mobilize the group to do something outside the regular meeting to invite others. In trying to balance a number of different objectives, many Lifegroups often struggle to disciple others. Why? I think it is because success is still defined as attendance at an LG meeting, rather than a network of relationships with a common mission to produce more faithful communities over time. One of the most common things I hear, “Oh, you’re a pastor. Well, we’ve been looking for a church for a long time, but we just can’t find one that meets our needs.” I just want to scream out, “Please, if you’re a follower of Jesus, we are not spiritual consumers. We are spiritual contributors.”

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