Great post from Jonathan Dodson from Austin City Life on the importance of Missional Communities for loving the city and understanding church not as a church building or Sunday Service, but rather as Tim Chester and Steve Timmis say,"a gospel-centered community on mission." Missional Communites are meant to make this happen. At Austin City Life, they call their groups City Groups and say, "this is where the church is the church to one another and the city." I love this description.
Dodson goes on to explain why Sunday isn't enough. This is a huge problem for us in Rockwall and other parts of the Metroplex. Church is reduced to Sunday worship. If church is only the Sunday gathering or bound to the building, then we cannot carry out the one another's of the Scriptures. Missional Community can be a structure to help make loving one another happen. Dodson says the following, "(These Communities) are flexible church structures designed to facilitate the people of God living out their intended life together. They are not a 'purer' expression of church than Sunday gatherings, but they are a much-neglected expression of church in North America."
Dodson explains that our life together in Missional Community and Sunday Worship should not appear to be two events, but rather a "steady state of community." Community doesn't happen primarily in the meeting according to Dodson, but in all of our life. He says, "it is a constant flow of social, gospel, and missional connections throughout the week. It’s not adding special 'community building' events to your already full calendar. It’s inviting people into your existing calendar." This is a beautiful way of understanding our life as the church on mission together.
Dodson says to engage in this 'community on mission' vision, we will need to make 3 shifts.
- Conceptual. Church doesn't equal a meeting or an event; it is the people of God on the mission of Christ.
- Practical. We see that this is Biblical, and we are willing to repent of living a churchless life and then begin sharing life together.
- Affectional. This is the hardest. We actually desire real missional community. We want to be a people gathered around Jesus and on his mission. We must pray for this. The practical and affectional are the hardest. We must simplify our lives for the practical and we must pray like crazy for the affectional.
- We should plan to not eat alone. If we eat 21 meals a week, Dodson urges us to eat at least 4 with people in the community.
- If we have hobbies, invite others. We should share our life and our leisure pursuits
- If we use twitter or facebook, invite people through that medium to participate in errands and other things with us.
- We shouldn't shop alone or watch tv alone, but invite others to participate in these normal activities with us.
- Lastly, Dodson advises us to invite others into mission. We should have dinner parties and birthday parties with our friends and co-workers in mind. We should invite one another to serve in our cities through various social justice ministries and avenues. This can and should be the church in its life together.