What Does This Look Like?

I’ve put together some 30,000 foot view thoughts on what the emergence of this new faith community in Seattle will look like over the coming months and years to help us understand where we are going and who we will and will not be. I’ve shared this with several people, and thought I’d post some of it here for everyone to read and interact with:

“All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”

-Jesus

As Jesus was leaving his disciples, his instructions were straightforward and clear, “Go and make disciples”. His earliest followers did just that, and through this simple strategy of making disciples and teaching them to trust and follow Jesus, millions of people began to follow Jesus in the subsequent years, and their world and ours was changed.

What if today we set aside many of our ideas of what church is, and settled on a simple definition of church, organized in simple ways, in order to facilitate the formation of new disciples, who then went and made more disciples? As these new disciples are sent together on mission, new churches would arise organically from within cultures and neighborhoods in Seattle!  What would this look like?

First, let’s set out what a church is:

A church is a group of people who have been called by Jesus, adopted into His family, and sent together on mission with Jesus

Within this definition, a church can be any size, small or large, as long as the people who participate in that church understand that they have been called by Jesus, they take care of each other as family members, and they work together on mission with Jesus in their context. In recent years, churches have been encouraged to make numerical growth a primary goal, creating huge local churches, drawing people from large geographical areas. After 30 years or so of the church growth movement, many people, including the strongest proponents of church growth strategies, are drawing the conclusion that the result of all these efforts have been a consolidation of believers into the churches that implement these growth strategies most effectively, instead of a mass movement of new disciples being made. A strong argument can be made that the essential functions of a church are best embodied and lived out by smaller, locally based communities of believers who take personal responsibility for making new disciples and for Jesus’ mission to their neighborhoods.  In our context, as new disciples are made, and spiritual and numerical growth occurs, we will:

Form neighborhood based Missional Communities.

Missional Communities are groups of 10-30 disciples who have organized together in order to live out the rhythms of disciple life among each other for the benefit of their local block/apartment building/neighborhood.  These Missional Communities will constantly invite others who are not yet disciples to participate in these rhythms, and by doing so draw them to intentionally follow Jesus.

Missional Communities are not only Bible studies, small groups, or weekly gatherings. Rather, MC’s are little churches; locally based groups of believers who have been called by Jesus, take care of each other as family members, and participate together in Jesus’ mission in their context.

Missional Communites participate together in the rhythms of disciple life, share meals together, watch each other’s children, bless each other, disciple one another, identify ways to serve their neighborhoods together, and identify a specific people group to whom they will regularly and intentionally demonstrate the love and grace of Jesus in order to make new disciples. As new disciples are made, there will be a need for us to:

Develop Servants.

As Missional Communities grow and develop, we will identify those within the communities who have the gifts necessary to begin new Missional Communities and provide the spiritual direction and oversight necessary for the growth of new disciples.  These leaders will be nurtured in what it means to serve and equip a group of disciples, and trained in pastoral care, incarnational habits, the study of Scripture and teaching, and theological issues.

As Missional Communities grow and servants emerge, new Missional Communities will be incarnated into the life of their neighborhoods. As more and more Missional Communites form in a given neighborhood, we will develop:

Area Gatherings

While the heart of ekklesia communities lies within the hyper local context of the Missional Communities, there is great value inherent in all disciples coming together on a regular basis to celebrate the grace of God and focus on His mission in Seattle.

We will identify several forms of larger corporate gatherings, which will occur regularly throughout each month with the purpose of equipping disciples to be on the mission of Jesus, celebrating what Jesus is doing in our midst, and sending disciples on mission into their local contexts.

We are a sent community, on mission, who gathers regularly to equip, celebrate, and send.

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