How Do We Transition from "Sunday" to "Everyday"?

If you fail to pray, you will have missed the most important element of transitioning from Sunday to everyday. 

When we first began training leaders to start and lead missional communities we were primarily working with church planters and new churches. Now we increasingly find ourselves coming alongside already existing churches looking to transition from a Sunday centric model to equipping for ministry every day. Presently, I am leading my own church family at Doxa Church through this same transition. Admittedly, I am still in process, but I am learning a lot about transitioning through both my experience and the stories of others. Before I begin, it’s important to state that I could probably write a whole book on the topic of transitioning. What I have to say here is only the tip of the iceberg, but I pray it’s helpful nonetheless.

Unified Leadership

The first and most important principle is unified leadership—leaders who share the same convictions. Those who give overall leadership to the church must be both convinced and committed to a new direction: convinced biblically that this is God’s desire for their church and committed practically to living it out as an example to the people under their care. You will not consistently lead the church toward a new reality if you are not convinced enough to lose people who don’t agree and committed long enough to learn how to work it out practically for those who stay to see and experience the change. Leaders must be unified and in agreement about what they are committing themselves and the church to for the long haul. This is not like adding a program or making a minor ministry shift. This will be a whole church transition, and the transition will take many years.

Repentance

As leaders become aware of ways they have not faithfully been examples to the flock (1 Peter 5:3), they should be prepared to repent publicly. For instance, the Scriptures are clear elders are called to show hospitality, which is making space in their life, home, schedule, and budgets for outsiders. Hospitality gives a tangible expression to the truths and effects of the gospel showing how God welcomed us in through Christ. Leaders are called to lead the church in hospitality first by example and second through instruction. We will never move the church from Sunday to every day if leadership doesn’t lead the way in hospitality.

As elders come to see they have not been faithful in hospitality, they need to confess that to the church and ask God to give them the grace to change. Repentance will likely need to happen in many areas (i.e. being friends of non-Christians, discipling the flock under their care to be disciple-makers, showing radical generosity in all things, etc.). As leaders publicly confess and repent, they create a culture of grace in the church that makes it possible for the church to repent, as well.

I have found most people will not take new steps toward change unless they believe there is grace to acknowledge past failures and sin. Think about it, most churches are where they are today because the members choose to follow the example and teaching of their leaders. To expect them to change without leaders repenting publicly is an unhealthy expectation. They didn’t fail. Leaders did. If the church is going to turn corporately in a new direction the leaders will have to lead the way in repentance.

Preferred Future

However, we should not only look back on where we failed, we must also look forward to a preferred future. People will not change until the pain of staying and missing out on what could be is stronger than the comfort or familiarity of what is. Why did God’s people go to Egypt? Famine. They believed Egypt offered sustenance and a future. Why did Jesus’ disciples leave their careers to follow him? They believed He had something much better. If you are going to lead God’s people forward from Sunday to everyday, they will need to see that the better way is a life of full submission to Jesus in the everyday stuff of life.

Most people who love Sunday gatherings have likely experienced God at work in their hearts there. Leaders need to help people see they can experience even more of God’s presence and power in an ongoing way. Describe the life of a disciple filled with and led by the Holy Spirit on mission every day. Most Christians have not experienced much of the abundant life Jesus promised because they have not stepped out in faith to walk on those waters. I often hear people express their desire for a greater intimacy and acquaintance with the power of the Holy Spirit. However, I must inform them that the life lived in the Spirit is a life lived on the Spirit’s mission.

You won’t come to know the power of the Spirit if you live a life that does not require his power. To call people to transition from Sunday to everyday, I paint a picture regularly of a preferred future walking in the Spirit on mission with others who deeply love Jesus. If that life doesn’t sound better than only a weekly event on Sunday, people will not leave their present nets of comfort to venture out into the unknown. It’s true; there are significant costs in following Jesus every day, but the kingdom benefits far outweigh the worldly costs. Once again, this starts with leaders. If leaders are not convinced the future is better, they will not be able to convince anyone else either.

Program Support

Next, keep all programs that support the future direction, starve all that do not, and remove any that fight against it. I often use the analogy of a body when describing how to transition a church. The body has certain organs that if taken away will kill the body. It has others that the body can live without, and others, if damaged or infected, can kill the body. When making a transition, don’t get rid of the activities or programs that are the heart and lungs, skeletal supports, and nervous systems of the church. In most churches, Sunday gatherings and groups play vital roles in the transition to everyday mission. I’ve seen churches kill their entire church by shutting down all their programs to start missional communities. This is a fatal mistake.

At Doxa Church, we use the Sunday gathering to exhort, equip, and encourage people toward mission in the everyday. When I arrived here, they had community groups in place. I didn’t scrap them and start over; I decided to keep them and gradually transition them to missional communities. These two programmatic structures were and are vital structures for communication and care through which we can also bring equipping for the new direction. I also choose not to feed programs or events that do not specifically support the future direction. By starving I mean we don’t give leadership energy, coaching, or training to these ministries. We didn’t shut them down, but we don’t prop them up and work to sustain them either.

Each church has a limited supply of leadership and resources. We must steward our resources most effectively toward accomplishing the mission of making disciples who make disciples in the everyday stuff of life. We must do few things and do them well versus try to do everything mediocre. Finally, any program or ministry that is cancerous must be eliminated. A cancerous program is one that is fighting against the future direction or even poisoning others along the way. These cannot be allowed to continue or they will destroy the body.

Equip Pioneers

As you move forward you will find some have been waiting for this change. It seems God always has a remnant in the church being prepared to pioneer forward. As you discover the pioneers and early adopters, be prepared to give them the best support, mentoring, and training your church has to offer. They will need all you can give since this is new territory. Ideally, the overseeing leaders of the church are either in their groups leading by example or in other groups sharing their own learnings with others. The best way to move the entire church forward into a new direction is to have a few lead the way. People need to see and hear what life can be like from those who’ve gone before them.

We have found that placing pioneering leaders in pilot groups can be a very effective way to provide them with close training and development. A pilot group is made up of people eager to move forward into this new reality led by one of our equipping leaders who is most familiar with mission in everyday life. We presently are using the Saturate Field Guide as the curriculum for these groups. We call people to commit for a ten-week journey together through the Field Guild with the expectation that they will put into practice what they are learning along the way. We’ve done this both in singular groups and in larger groups that are broken up into 4-5 smaller groups. Through the pilot groups we have identified and equipped leaders, given people a taste of everyday mission in community and formed new missional communities as a result.

As leaders and others step out into everyday mission together, overseeing leaders must be present and available to coach and encourage them along the way. Most plans fail for lack of good preparation and ongoing support along the way. You can’t just launch people into a new reality. You need to provide ongoing training and evaluation along the way. Jesus didn’t just send His disciples out on mission. Prior to that He did it in front of them and with them. He pulled them aside regularly to explain what He was doing and to reflect on what they were doing. His training was hands-on and real-time. Then, when He did send them out, they returned with reports. Jesus provided additional training and coaching in light of their experiences or failures. We need to follow Jesus’ example of developing His leaders if we are going to expect people to lead from Sunday to everyday.

Smalls Steps and Shared Stories

I have discovered that the move from Sunday to everyday for some seems daunting. Some can’t imagine themselves making the trek up what seems to them to be Mount Everest. However, everyone can take a step on the trail. We have found that the vision of the preferred future is compelling, but without small steps being clarified, it can become paralyzing. Our job as leaders is to help people take small steps forward.

For instance, invite your neighbors over for a cookout, or call your group to pray weekly that God would open doors for the gospel. Take a prayer walk through your neighborhood once a week and ask God to open your eyes and open your neighbors’ hearts. Start going to the same restaurant once a week, and be gracious guests who learn names and stories of the servers and tip very generously. These are all small steps that anyone can take. Then share the stories of steps taken while gathered with the larger body on Sunday.

I know of one church that has a section in their weekly gathering called “I gave it a try.” During this time people share stories of giving it a try. I tried inviting our neighbors over for dinner last week. They denied, but we gave it a try. We try getting to know the story of the parents we sit next to in the stands while watching Joey’s football practice. We actually have a better idea how to serve them lovingly now that we gave it a try. At Doxa, we have a story each week from normal people in our congregation take small steps of faith in everyday situations. The people in our churches know what we care most about based upon what we do on the platform and what we regularly celebrate. Encourage small steps and celebrate each step taken.

Pray

Jesus instructed His disciples to wait for power from the Spirit before they went out as His witnesses (Acts 1:6, 8). The account of the early church throughout the Acts of the Apostles is one of consistent, prayerful dependency and Spirit-led mission. To lead our churches forward into everyday mission, we must become a prayerful people. Once again this begins with leadership. Leaders must pray regularly, consistently, and for significant periods of time.

We have adopted several ways of creating a prayerfully dependent culture here. We pray at 10:02 every morning for harvest workers. This is taken from Luke 10:02. We learned this from the leadership of C2C in Canada. We stop whatever we’re doing and take time to pray that our Lord will send more workers for the harvest and prepare the harvest for the workers. We also try to dedicate a block of time for prayer in most meetings. We also commit to “stop and pray.” If we are in a conversation where someone is in need of prayer, we don’t say we will pray. We stop and pray in the moment. We also stop and pray during a meeting when it is apparent we are lacking wisdom or direction. We have people praying during our gatherings on Sundays and more recently are asking our missional communities to commit to praying through an entire Sunday morning gathering to learn to pray together throughout the week. Our elders lead these times to both model our commitment to prayer and to actively train our people.

As our church grows in prayerful dependence they also grow in being led by the Spirit. Many Christians don’t know how to engage in the mission in everyday life because they haven’t yet learned how to follow the Spirit of God on mission in prayer. If you do all that I have already written and fail to pray, you will have missed the most important element of transitioning from Sunday to everyday. Jesus is building His church in the everyday stuff of life. Prayer is the key to submitting to Him and being empowered by Him to join in the work.

Exposed by the Mission

Yes, we can pretend to have it all together while sitting in a pew on Sunday or while impressing one another with our knowledge of Scripture. But mission exposes our inadequacies and need for grace.

If you are in a small Bible study group, one of the best things you could do is move the study out into the neighborhood. When you read a command in Scripture, ask, “How are we going to obey this command together on mission?” In other words, ask yourselves what this passage says you should do together (life in community) and how you might do it in the middle of a mission held together (life on mission).

Doing this will bring up all sorts of opportunities for discipleship: excuses will be expressed, fears acknowledged, lack of confidence or courage realized, and inadequacies verbalized. Then you’ll be getting somewhere in terms of people’s discipleship.

In this process, you will discover the truth about everyone’s present state. When you actually get out of the comfort of your Christian community and onto the streets of mission (in your neighborhood, at a café, in the park, or at a local high school), you will discover together where everyone still needs to be discipled. The junk will come out, and then you will be able to disciple one another in the everyday stuff of life.

I was surprised by this on my first mission trip, but after a few of them, I knew it was coming. Soon, a part of me began to hate taking mission trips because I knew things would get bad—we would fall apart and we would be seen as needy.

Yet that was why I continued to lead them. Such brokenness has to happen if real discipleship is going to take place.

Sometimes I wonder if this exposure is why Christians avoid getting on the mission of making disciples together in the stuff of everyday life. We know we will be exposed. We will be seen for the needy, desperate people we really are. Our junk will come to the surface. Yes, we can hide and pretend to have it all together while sitting in a large gathering on Sunday or while impressing one another with our knowledge of Scripture in a weekly Bible study. But out on mission, the need for grace and power from God will never be more clearly manifested.

That’s exactly what we need. We need to see and know our need for Jesus. We need to see and know others’ need for Jesus. Then we need to give one another the truths of Jesus to change us, empower us, and allow His Spirit to work through us effectively. We also need to experience God using weak, tired, and broken people to do amazing work.

This happened in the early church as well. Before Jesus ascended into heaven, He told His disciples to wait for power from God—the Spirit of God was going to come upon them and empower them for the work (Acts 1:8). The disciples were sent out with God’s power and presence with and by His Spirit. They faced persecution. Many died for their faith. They lost possessions and family members. Many messed up and grew in the grace of Jesus as a result. And they grew in their love for one another, their devotion to obey God’s Word, their prayerful dependence on God, and the powerful proclamation of the gospel. They all grew while on mission (Acts 2:42–47).

The mission revealed their need and required God’s help!

I’m amazed at how often Christians want to experience the presence and power of God apart from the mission of God. I’m also surprised at how many people believe they can grow people up toward maturity in Christ apart from getting them involved in the mission of making disciples.

This stuff can’t happen in a classroom. It does not happen in one-on-one meetings. And it does not happen if we just hang out together as Christians all the time. We have to get out on mission to fulfill the mission of being disciples who make disciples.

I used to think we should take people out on mission trips once or twice a year. Now I’m convinced we need to help people see they are on mission all the time.

Unfortunately, many disciples of Jesus don’t get beyond seeing church as just attending an event on Sunday or Wednesday or doing a Bible study together. They are not experiencing what it means to be on mission together in the everyday stuff of life. So they live with the facade that everything is OK. On the surface, they look as if they are all in for Jesus. But brokenness, pride, insecurity, and selfishness are all there under the surface.

(Taken from Saturate: Being Disciples of Jesus in the Everyday Stuff of Life by Jeff Vanderstelt, ©2015, Crossway.)

Comment

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.

5 Ways To Equip Disciples as Gospel Ministers

Church leader? Your job is not to do the ministry for the church, but to equip the church to be gospel ministers.

Habakkuk 2:14 speaks of a day when “The knowledge of the glory of the Lord will cover the earth as the waters cover the sea.” That is a saturation point–a time in which everywhere you go, the knowledge of the glory of the Lord will saturate everyone and everything. You will not be able to avoid to truths of God.

The Apostle Paul says in Colossians 1:27 that Christ in us is the hope of glory and in Ephesians 1:23 that the church is Christ’s body, the fullness of him who fills all in all. The church is God’s plan for saturation. Christ in us and Christ through us, every day and everywhere, so that through us Christ might be preeminent in everything (Col. 1:18). I call this gospel saturation, in which every man, woman and child has a daily encounter with Jesus in word and deed through his people, the church.

This is why we have been saved. This is why we exist. 

But this won’t happen if we continue to see church as a building or a weekly event we attend. Buildings don’t saturate a place. They take up space. They also can’t move and fill other places. Events won’t saturate the world with God’s glory either. They may be led by or participated in by glory-bearing, Jesus-filled people, but the event cannot travel and fill space. People do.

Church is not a building. Church is not an event. The church is the people of God set apart for the mission of God – filled with his power and presence so that his purposes are accomplished every day everywhere – in the workplace, at school, in cafes and pubs, around dinner takes and on the soccer field.

Do you believe that? Do you believe you are the church? Do you believe the church is actively on mission every day in the stuff of life for the glory of God? We must commit to equipping everyday people for the everyday mission of gospel saturation.

If you are a leader in the church, do you see your job is not to do the ministry for the church, but to equip the church for ministry in the everyday stuff of life (Eph. 4:11-12)?

This is where it begins.

First, leaders need to reconsider their calling. Shift from being a minister of the gospel to being an equipper of gospel ministers. This doesn’t mean you cease from gospel ministry, but it does mean equipping others is a significant part of your ministry.

Second, help people see they are designed uniquely by God and put in the place they live on purpose by God. Too often we create programmatic boxes for people to fit into instead of helping them engage uniquely in ministry where God has already placed them. In doing so, we often pull people out of the mission field and unnaturally try to squeeze them into our ministry molds. I recently spoke with a woman who thanked me for affirming the truth of her unique design and calling. Her passion and skills are in the fashion industry, and her place in life is with a unique class of people who likely will never enter a church building. She started a fashion business as a ministry that has a natural open door for mission.

Third, publicly affirm and commission people in your gatherings for mission outside of the building or weekly event. I was speaking to a local businessman about his work in our city. “It’s clear the church doesn’t affirm business as mission because the only people it publicly commissions are full-time pastors,” he replied. He shared how he had observed seminary graduates publicly affirmed and commissioned for ministry, but never business people. At the church I lead now, we are commissioning all people for ministry. During our Sunday gatherings, we’ve begun to highlight and pray over a group of people on mission in everyday life. In addition, when we baptize people at our church, we state that their baptism is also their commission to the mission Jesus gave us.

Fourth, consider how your language affirms your convictions. When I visit other churches or meet with other pastors, I regularly hear their language affirm that people “go to church.” I regularly remind our people that they don’t “go to church” but they “are the church.” I communicate publicly that it is my job, and the job of our staff, to equip them to go “be the church” on Jesus’ mission wherever he is sending them. So often we send people mixed messages by saying things like, “It’s good to be in the house of the Lord” or “I’m so glad you decided to come to church today.” But the Scriptures teach that God’s people are the house of the Lord. We are his temple. Are you affirming this truth with your language?

And finally, make sure you regularly reaffirm God’s people as the priesthood. I still see a strong clergy/laity distinction in so many churches. We call people to the mission and yet prevent them from doing the ministry. For example, Jesus said to go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and then teaching them to obey everything Jesus commanded–which includes making disciples and baptizing them. However, I still see churches affirm that only the pastor can baptize. We call people to make disciples, which according to Jesus includes baptizing, but, we don’t let people baptize. I have watched many people get into the water with their friends or relatives in obedience to Jesus’ command. One woman told me she had never baptized anyone, although she had led people to faith in Jesus before. This was the first time in her life she was free to obey Jesus’ command in this way.

Ask yourself, what ministry are you taking away from the people you lead? What have you prevented them from participating in? I have policy that I try to work by: Don’t continue to do for people what they could do themselves if they were equipped and trained. Baptism is one example, but there are many others.

Remember, the church is not a building or an event. The church is God’s people saved by God’s power who are filled with God’s presence for God’s purposes in the world.

Gospel saturation doesn’t happen in a building.

It won’t get accomplished through an event.

Gospel saturation happens in you and then gospel saturation happens through you…until all the earth is filled with the knowledge of the glory of the Lord.

Motivation for Mission

God declares something to be so and it is.

We live differently if we realize who we are! God commands us to make disciples and baptize them in the name the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. In baptism we are established in our new identity. And, now what God has done to you, he intends to do through you.

Want real-time training on what it looks like to make disciples in the everyday stuff of life? Attend Saturate EveryDay get a vision for what it might look like to saturate your own community with the gospel so that every man, woman, and child has a daily encounter with Jesus.

During this two-day training we guarantee you will gain effective tools and practices to develop a clear plan of action for gospel saturation in your community.

Comment /Source

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.

Mercenary or Missionary?

What are you more familiar with? 

Community without mission is co-dependency. Mission without community creates mercenaries. Community on mission loves, proclaims the good news of Jesus, and displays power of the gospel to change lives.

Want real-time training on what it looks like to make disciples in the midst of a community on mission? Attend Saturate EveryDay and get a vision for what it might look like to saturate your own community with the gospel so that every man, woman, and child has a daily encounter with Jesus.

During this two-day training we guarantee you will gain effective tools and practices to develop a clear plan of action for gospel saturation in your community.

A Small Group Is Not Necessarily A Missional Community

When defining the term "missional community, "I often take time to clarify what it's not. One of the things I often emphasize is that a missional community is not primarily a Bible study.

The goal of most Bible studies is to study the Bible. The goal of a missional community is to be a family of disciples that makes disciples. A missional community necessarily entails study of the Bible, but many Bible studies don't entail the making of disciples.

In fact, I've discovered that many people have studied the Bible for years and have never led anyone to faith in Jesus, equipped people for ministry, or sent out others out to do the same. It's as if we have come to believe that knowing the Bible is equal to faith in and obedience to God. However, Jesus said that if we love him we will obey his commandments. In his commission to his disciples in Matthew 28:20, he directed them to teach others to obey his commands.

A Common Scenario

When people at our church gatherings tell me that they wish we did more Bible studies, I usually ask them what book of the Bible they last studied. Let's imagine they say, "James."

I then say something like: "That's great! You must be well equipped to care for widows and orphans, visit the sick, and serve the poor! We have a lot of socio-economic division in our city and we really need people equipped like you to help others."

"What do you mean?"

"Well, that's what the book of James teaches and, since you studied it, you must be trained in it."

Often there is a pregnant pause followed by something like, "Well, we did study it and we learned a lot."

"Well, did you do what it says? James actually exhorts us to not merely be hearers of the Word, but doers. Right?"

"Well, yes he does say that. But we've haven't gotten around to doing it yet."

"So how about getting involved in a missional community where you can practice doing what you've studied? In fact, before you add more biblical knowledge that you will be accountable to obey, let's help you follow through with what you already know."

Obedience in Community

I've found that the missional community is one of the best environments to study the Bible because it's in the context of community that you learn to obey what God's Word teaches. And it's while on mission making disciples that you come to see how powerful God's Word is for bringing about transformation.

I've also discovered that when we aim to obey God's Word together, we realize how desperately we need Jesus. We need his forgiveness for not obeying his Word. We need the power of his Spirit in order to obey his Word. And we come to love Jesus more as he meets us with grace in our failures and weaknesses. All of this inevitably leads us to love the Word of God (both written and incarnate) more and more.

I've found that our hunger for and engagement with the Bible only increases the more we obey its commands and experience God's faithfulness in its promises.


Comment

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.

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 serve...in 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…

What is a Missional Community?

I posted the video for Gospel Fluency to provide the beginning to answering the question: "How do we develop a Gospel Fluent Culture?" I am going to post the second part to that series once it is edited. Now, before I start answering some of the other questions that have been posted, I want to clarify what a Missional Community is. The next post will describe how it works at Soma Communities. After that I will begin with "How do you do this with young children/as a family?" (one of the more popular questions).

So, What is a Missional Community?

A Missional Community is a Family of Missionary Servants who make Disciples who make Disciples.

Family – First of all a missional community is a group of believers who live and experience life together like a family. They see God as their Father because of their 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 it’s 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 (John 1:11-13; Rom. 12:10-16; Eph 5:1-2)

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. A missional community 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 a gospel gap (no consistent gospel witness). This means people’s schedule, resources and decisions are now collectively built around reaching people together. (Matt. 3:16-4:1; Jn. 20:21; Acts 1:8; Acts 13:2)

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, 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. (Matt. 20:25-28; Jn. 13:1-17; Phil. 2:5-11; 1 Pet. 2:16)

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 it 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 (Matt. 28:19-20). The missional community 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.