Fleshing Out MC through Covenant

Committing to Life on Mission Together

As Soma Communities we define a Missional Community as a Family of Missionary Servants who make Disciples who make Disciples.

Every year we coach our MC leaders to form a group covenant shaped by this definition. They are guided through a process whereby they work through with their group what they all believe regarding the gospel and their gospel identity. Then, as they identify a people and place for accomplishing the mission of making disciples, they clarify how they plan to radically reorient their lives along the regular rhythms of missionary work in that context. The members who are willing to devote themselves to one another and the mission of the group then sign this covenant. This is followed by a public commissioning of the leaders and group at one of our church gatherings, similar to what we do when we send missionaries to another country.

This covenant is shaped around their identity in Christ:

Family – A missional community is a group of believers who live and experience life together like a family. They see God as their Father through faith in the person and work of Jesus Christ and the new regeneration brought about by the Holy Spirit.

This means they have and know of a divine love that leads them to love one another as brothers and sisters. They treat one another as children of God deeply loved by the Father in everything – sharing their money, time, resources, needs, hurts, successes, etc… They know each other well. This knowledge includes knowing each other’s stories and having familiarity with one another’s strength and struggles in regards to belief in the gospel and its application to all of life.

They speak the gospel truth to one another, regularly building each other up in love. They also love the people around them as if they were part of the family, showing them what the love of the Father looks like and in so doing inviting them to experience life in the family of God.

In light of this identity, the MC I am a part of committed to: 1-2 additional meals together outside of our weekly family meal; paying a portion of one of our families monthly expenses to the mom to stay at home; sharing our vehicles; helping with home repair projects; babysitting to give room for date nights; and much more…

Missionaries – God’s family is also sent like the Son by the Spirit to proclaim the good news of the kingdom – the gospel – and fulfill the commission of Jesus. A missional community is more than a bible study or a small group that cares for other believers. It is made up of Spirit-led and filled people who radically reorient their lives together for the mission of making disciples of a particular people and place where there is no consistent gospel witness. This means people’s schedule, resources and decisions are now collectively built around reaching people together.

Our MC committed to making disciples of The Wedge/6th Ave district and parents, teachers and students at Grant elementary school. We are intentionally engaged in daily life in this area together on mission getting to know the stories of the people in our missionary context; throwing regular parties and events; joining the existing parties and events; hosting The Story-formed Way to introduce them to the gospel; and praying regularly for their salvation.

Servants – Jesus is Lord and we are his Servants. A missional community serves those around them as though there are serving Jesus. In doing so, they give a foretaste of what life will be like under the rule and reign of Jesus Christ. Living as servants to the King who serve others as he served us, presents a tangible witness to Jesus’ kingdom and the power of the gospel to change lives. A missional community serves in such a way that it demands a Gospel explanation – lives that cannot be explained in any other way than by the Gospel of the Kingdom of Jesus (see 1 Peter 2:11-12; 3:15).

One of the key ways we are previewing what the restoration of all things will look like is through the community garden that we have created in our mission field. We also will serve at the school auction; serve at after school events; do regular neighborhood clean-up; and serve each other with home projects.

Disciples – We are all learners of Jesus our rabbi who has given us his Spirit to teach us all that is true about Jesus and enable us to live out his commands. Jesus commanded us to make disciples who believe the gospel, are established in a new identity and are able to obey all of his commands. The MC is the best context in which this can happen. Disciples are made and developed: 1) through life on life, where there is visibility and accessibility 2) in community, where they can practice the one anothers, and 3) on mission where they learn how to proclaim the gospel and make disciples.

For our MC this means: meeting once a week altogether around a meal, once a week men together and women together for gospel development (know the truth, believe and submit to it, do what ever the Spirit leads); learning how to study the Bible together in our combined meeting; going on a retreat to learn about biblical marriage and parenting; and training a new leadership team to be sent out to start a new MC by the end of 2011.

Every one of our MCs develops a similar 3-6 page covenant that they are coached through monthly coaching sessions to fulfill for the year. Every year they revise and rewrite their covenants.

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Jeff Vanderstelt

Jeff Vanderstelt is the visionary leader of Saturate, the Soma Family of Churches, and the lead teaching pastor of Doxa Church in Bellevue, WA. He also travels around the US and the world equipping the Church in the gospel and missional living. He is the author of "Saturate: Being Disciples of Jesus in the Everyday Stuff of Life." He and Jayne, his wife of 22 years, have three children; Haylee, Caleb, and Maggie.