Some of you may know that we have written a new book on Missional Communities (MCs) called Leading Missional Communities.
Some of you may also be aware that we previously wrote a book on Missional Communities called Launching Missional Communities, and it was a helpful tool for guiding church leaders toward understanding and pioneering MCs in their churches and communities.
It’s because we take a developmental approach to everything. That means we don’t wait for things to be perfect before we start them, and we are always trying to listen to and learn from the experiences we have and the people we work with. We really believe that anything worth doing is worth doing badly, as G.K. Chesteron said. So we just get on with stuff and refine it as we go.
So as we coached and consulted with pastors and church leaders over the past several years in our Learning Communities, we discovered something. It’s one thing to learn how to launch MCs, but another thing entirely to learn how to lead them well so they become a reproducing hotbed for discipleship and mission in churches.
It’s the difference between starting a program and developing a culture. If you try to start MCs as a program in your church, it won’t achieve any of the results you probably want, and it will require a constant investment of time and energy to keep it running. But if you learn to develop a certain kind of culture, MCs will become a vehicle that begins to facilitate a growing movement of mission in your church.
The difference between the two is a principle we always use: we can’t lead people to a place we’ve never been, and we can’t coach them to drive a vehicle we’ve never driven! For MCs to actually work in a church, the leader of that church needs to go first, offering their lives as examples for others to imitate. It doesn’t matter if you pastor a mega-church, a medium-sized church, or a church plant. It’s not enough to explain the theory of MCs to people who have never actually experienced it. They need to experience being part of an MC before they go and lead one.
Because of this, we decided to go back to the drawing board and write a book that focused on the processes and principles of leading an MC so that it can multiply in a healthy way. Instead of grappling with huge strategic issues of how to launch MCs, we are simply encouraging and equipping leaders to begin to live on mission with their spiritual extended family, and invite people to join you in that! From there, you begin to disciple people to do what you do, and you’ve got the beginnings of a multiplying movement of discipleship and mission in your church!