Over the last several weeks New Heightsers’ have been invited out to ‘community’ and ‘family’ nights upstairs in The Penny– If you haven’t been, you gotta come to the next one! These nights have been an experimental initiative, as well as demonstration of a goal we have in mind. What we have been shooting for here is to exhibit Missional Community, a vehicle for healthy spiritual family.
What is a missional community?
I’ll let creator and pioneer of Missional Community Mike Breen take this one…
“A Missional Community is a group of 20 to 50 people who exist, in Christian community, to reach either a particular neighborhood or network of relationships. With a strong value on life together, the group has the expressed intention of seeing those they are in relationship with choose to start following Jesus through this more flexible and locally incarnated expression of the church. They exist to bring haven to the particular slice of earth they believe God has given them to bless. The result is usually the growth and multiplication of more Missional Communities. These MCs are networked within a larger church community allowing for both a scattered and gathered church. These mid-sized communities, led by laity, are lightweight and low maintenance and most often meet 3-4 times a month in their missional context. Each MC attends to the three dimensions of life that Jesus himself attended to: Time with God (worship, prayer, scripture, teaching, giving thanks, etc), time with the body of believers building a vibrant and caring community, and time with those who don’t know Jesus yet.”
Where did Missional Community start?
“MCs first began as missional small groups (groups of 8-15 people) more than 20 years ago in England. After a few years it became clear they were small enough to care, but not large enough to dare. Missional growth, multiplication and momentum was rare with these smaller, more missional groups. Leader burnout was common. Quite honestly, it took several years for this to surface as a recurring problem that needed to be dealt with. After a few more years of experimenting, mid-sized groups, about the size of an extended family, emerged as a missional and discipleship vehicle that was capable of the exponential growth and depth we see today. As Missional Communities continued to develop further and as we began to research why, something exciting came to light: Every culture (and sub-culture) gathers and finds identity in groups the size of extended families. When natural genetic extended families break down, people of all races, ethnicities and backgrounds organically begin to re-create the extended family. Missional Communities were simply tapping into something hardwired into human DNA.”
What has been the result?
“In Sheffield, England at St Thomas Church, what I started with a few hundred people in these groups of 20-50 people, each reaching out to various mission contexts, has turned into thousands upon thousands of people in Missional Communities in a city where less than 1% of people attend church. Untold numbers of people are finding Jesus. MCs for the creative class. MCs for former Iranian Muslims. MCs for former gang members and murderers who became Christians. MCs for students studying at the university. MCs for new parents. MCs for people living in particular neighbourhoods. MCs for the homeless. MCs for former prostitutes and drug addicts.”
What does Missional Community look like at New Heights?
“To help you imagine what we’re talking about, think about the texture and relational fabric of a Thanksgiving feast…” – Mike Breen
Our first steps into what this could look and feel like at NH has been our Community and Family nights. MCs exist in two capacities, one cannot be without the other to encompass the three dimensions of what Jesus attended to. One gathering is focused on creating an environment where those who don’t know Jesus yet can feel at home without the pressure to be religious (ie. Community Night). Whereas, the second gathering has emphasis on time with the body of believers and God, by including prayer, scripture, sharing, etc (ie. Family Night). Both nights are aimed at creating an inviting environment centred around growing in community with each other and God. Lastly, a final point, these groups can come in different shapes to accommodate the diverse cultures we come from, wether beside a fire cooking hotdogs, a meal in someones home, a coffee and bake goods tasting night, or whatever it may look like!
We hope you get a chance to come and check out Community and Family Night to get a taste of what a MC could be like in our relational networks here in Mission.
Hear the latest buzz on when these happen by checking out our Instagram newheightsmission.