Serving the MC (Jayne's Perspective)

Matthew 20:28 “The Son of Man came not to be served but to serve…”

Missional Communities can be tricky. I can give you the rundown of what a “perfect gathering night” looks like or I can give you the real, unadulterated, hardcore truth that usually includes food on the floor, the dog puking (or getting out the front door and running toward the street), toddlers running around in diapers, loud thumps coming from the upstairs, water mysteriously all over the upstairs bathroom floor, multiple interruptions, clogged toilets, cell phones ending up in a mug of tea, and sticky spots on the floor that I will not notice until the next morning when the beautiful sun comes beaming through my clean (I mean sticky fingerprinted, and cloudy) front window…which illuminates memories of the night before. The smell of grilled meat and sweet potatoes are still ruminating in the house. Ahhh…I think we talked about Jesus??? Or maybe that was everyone else while I was running around the house…with joy in my heart…chasing a dear little boy named Finn. Finn is the active toddler of a couple in our neighborhood who loves Jesus and hopes to host their own MC one day. Finn’s mama and daddy were tired and needed to be with the adults tonight. I took my cue from the Holy Spirit and put down my Bible…and played with this little one upstairs for the next hour, while the older kids were happily entertaining themselves in the basement playroom. Finn and I played with legos, cars, balls, superheroes, looked at books, talked, tickled and laughed for a little over an hour while his mommy and daddy had a glass of wine and interacted around God’s Word discussing all the texts surrounding the Deity of Christ. Finn’s mom is a woman who loves Jesus and who loves to pray.

I can’t tell you what all the adults talked about because I wasn’t present in that discussion. But…I can tell you what was going through my mind while playing with Finn…like the fact that I am so thankful to have a home where people can openly talk about the Lord, and that Finn has a mommy and daddy that love Jesus and are partnering with us in this neighborhood to lead people to Jesus.  And that Jesus was with me in that upstairs room and I am not “missing out” on anything else happening in the house. I am part of a great call from Jesus to serve.  And most fondly, I was thinking of how God has given me a new mind and perspective on what it really means to the moment. I am humbled and grateful that He has revealed these things to me.

Many of us would like to think that we are “that kid” sitting in the front row of all that are gathered at the feet of Jesus while He is teaching. We are drinking in every word He says, feeling ready and eager to do anything He asks. Then…He says, “I need a volunteer!” All of our arms go up, we’re still sitting, but not really, we’re kind of half standing…and we shout “Pick me! Pick me!” But when He calls our name, we pull back, second guess, cower and say…”Nevermind…”

When Jesus calls on us, it always involves serving. Jeff was serving the adults tonight by teaching, instructing and leading in the main room. My task of watching Finn for this night was no less important to Jesus.  We, as hosts of our MC Gathering, are here to serve…period. If you are able to posture yourself with this attitude…and truth, you will experience joy in serving and be able to adjust to whatever task the Lord gives you for that evening.

Serving is not a gender specific, gifting or “personality” thing. It is a command in scripture and it looks different at different times. Anyone who knows me, knows that I love theology and I especially love interacting around God’s Word.  But tonight, God called me out of my chair to a different task. Serving is not always a premeditated, predictable act, but one that is recognized and accommodated at a moments notice. It’s a heart attitude of contentment, and it leaves you not exhausted, but filled with joy! Most of us can work up a desire to serve, but how we respond, in the spur of the moment, really exposes what is inside of us.

Jeff and I are on the same team. We are watching each other as we lead and we are filling in the gaps for each other. It’s like playing soccer. A team player doesn’t run down the field right next to the person with the ball, they open themselves up, watching and waiting for a pass.  Anyone who knows anything about the game of soccer, knows this is crucial. You position yourself in a strategic way so as to assist the other…and the goal is to score a point, not compete with each other as to who is in the “most important” position or debate who actually is responsible for the goal.

So…my charge to all of you would be to devote yourselves to prayer on this subject, not that God will help you be a good host, or that people won’t mess your house up…not even that God will “sustain you and get you through each week,” but that God will transform your hearts and minds to be filled with His Spirit and learn what it means to really “Serve wholeheartedly as if serving the Lord!” (Eph. 6:7)

God bless you all!

Planning the MC Mtg with Children in Mind

In the next several posts my wife Jayne and I are going to address the question: How do you do Missional Community with Kids? During this post Jayne is addressing the question: How do you address caring for kids during your weekly MC Gathering?

Keep in mind, when we think about children and our missional community we ask: How can our children join us in the overall mission? How do we disciple them all week long? How do we make sure the mission is accessible for them? How do we insure they can participate? And, how do we help them reach their peers as well?

When we think about our gathering on Tuesday nights, we don't feel like we have to address all of these in our 2-3 hour time together. We address these through the whole week approach.

Our gathering on Tuesday nights:

In our experience with kids, we have had to be very strategic. We currently have kids from under age 2 up to age 10. We have done different things, but what works well in my humble opinion is to have people rotate and share the responsibility each week. This adult or older child is NOT responsible for the whole night, but just for the discussion time. Also, it is important to really crack down and having a start and finish time of discussion that is clearly discussed and agreed on between all of the adults.  This is very important for the kids AND the adult who are serving the kids. An hour and a half is about all we can manage without major melt-downs…from both kids and adults.  Let the adult know that they are free to turn the kids loose at the ending time.

So, as an MC host, you would have a room set aside and ready with some snacks, puzzles, coloring stuff, toys, books etc. for the adult to take them in and watch them while you were having your discussion (some of our groups use a neighboring house).

Another option is to have this room ready for the kids to stay in and have an "on call" adult nearby peeking in on them, while partially engaging in the night. That has worked well for us too at times...although some nights an adult may need to be present or it will and has been known to turn into a “Lord of the Flies” situation.

You could have theme nights each week like..."Next week is popcorn and a movie night," or "Art night" and have crafting supplies ready for them to do a project. Obviously, the littler ones can probably only handle a story or two, but the older ones can work on some scripture memory or something like that. Reading to them from the Jesus Storybook Bible each week is a good option. Free play is also very important so the kids can socially engage and interact with each other. When the weather is nice outside (not much in the Northwest), we encourage the kids to play together outside.

Remember that all of our groups are always changing and adapting so our methods and practice need to change with them.

As the host of the home I have always tried to keep my eye on things and made an effort to help the mom's with young ones, stepping in to rescue them if they looked exhausted.  I think there needs to be leadership exercised as the host in serving, and sometimes that means that we sacrifice things in order to teach others how to sacrificially host and serve. We are always teaching by our actions…knowing that when others lead out of THEIR home someday, they will have seen that modeled and been taught that is how we develop servant leaders.

Remember that you are not being “Stuck” back with the kids…that your discussions are NOT superior and more important than your interactions with these young ones.  You can’t look at these kids as a hindrance or interruption. They need to be taught and guided and sometimes, depending on their age, this needs to be done in a separate area of the house so they can best learn and engage. It is an honor and privilege to pray for, prepare lessons for, and to hang out with them.

Most of the obstacles in our own group have been not logistics, but a heart issue. I have totally struggled with this in the past, that’s why I feel I can speak into it. My heart in the past has looked down on this task and looked at it as overwhelming and “not fair” that I am always “stuck” with figuring it out. I am ashamed of that...but, thank you Jesus for interrupting my thoughts and forgiving this sin, revealing to me that this is a situation to embrace, not “solve.” Hopefully, by the grace of God, after a little teaching to your adults, you will have people arguing about who gets to be with the kids next…I will pray you will see that happen…