Missional community meetings

I was asked a question recently about what happens when our gospel communities meet together. Here’s my reply …

The first thing to say is that a gospel community is not a meeting. It is a group of people who are committed to Jesus and committed to one another, sharing their lives together and sharing mission together. It is about people hanging out together, doing chores together, eating together, serving in the neighbourhood – all with gospel intentionality. That intentionality includes both a commitment to discipling one another with the gospel and sharing the gospel with unbelievers – all in the context of ordinary life and shared life. It’s not a meeting your attend. It’s not a thing you do. It’s who you are are. It’s your identity. It’s your place of belonging.

So the way you run a meeting becomes secondary because your meeting will be the outflow of your shared life. You will pray together, but then you pray together in your ordinary, shared life. You will talk about Jesus, but then you talk about Jesus in your ordinary, shared life. You will eat together, but then you eat together in your ordinary, shared life. You will look at the Bible, but then you look at the Bible in your ordinary, shared life. So an unbeliever attending will not experience anything very much different from what they have already experienced of the gospel community.

We have been playing around the following rubric for our gospel community meetings. They should always include:

  • bread = eating together as an expression of community including communion
  • Bible = exploring God’s word together and discussing its implications to our live and our life together
  • blessing = sharing news, consultation, co-ordination, prayer and so on with a focus on how we we going to bless people in the coming week

Or maybe a better rubric is meal, ministry and mission. What do you think?

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12 thoughts on “Missional community meetings

  1. Great, may I suggest a good rubric may be “Meal, Ministry, Mission and Music”. Singing a song a praise or thanks giving would be what I might add. Of course this is all supported by a focus on Messiah. Prayer should flow naturally from this. If it didn’t I would be worried :-).

    Tony Norris, Sydney, Australia.

  2. Hi Tim,

    This a really timely post, as many people have been asking what I experienced while in Sheffield. But most of the questions have been about the meetings and what you do, how they work or how they are different from any other church. I have been struggling to explain that, in a sense, as you ask that question you have missed the point of TCH is about.

    What you described is exactly what I experienced. Church as a network of relationships. A community on mission together in the ordinary rubric of life.

    I think perhaps I should just point people to this post, because as usual you say it so much better than I do. Or perhaps I could just memorize it and sound really clever :)

  3. Thanks for sharing that, Tim. We are in the process of moving away from a church understanding that focuses on events to an understanding of church as community and shared lives around the person and work of Christ. It sounds so easy but an event focus seems to be deep in our hearts.

    1 John 1:1-4 is one of my favorite portions of Scripture, where we can learn how real and lived out community is grounded in communion with the father and the son (through the Holy Spirit, I’d like to add). For that we need the gospel message and this kind of community you so eloquently described.

    Thanks for helping us in Switzerland by sharing these things on your blog. Please, keep on posting!

    In Christ
    Thorsten

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  6. That sounds nice…now, how is it different from a small group Bible study? It sounds like the ‘missional’ element comes in the form of talking about how we are involved in the lives of others outside the group.

    In some ways it sounds like you are saying that the people in the small group should really be a part of each other’s lives. That is great. I guess it is missional because they encourage each other to be involved in people’s lives like Jesus was/is?

  7. Sounds great, a real need for this emphasis. However, I was going to make the same comment as Tony – where does gathering together to sing psalms, hymns and spiritual songs fit into this? I wouldn’t want to throw out the corporate worship and sense of God’s tangible presence inhabiting the praises of his people that a ‘meeting focus’ helpfully makes plenty of room for.

  8. Sometimes the gospel communities sing together when they meet; sometimes they don’t. We also sing at gatherings when the gospel communities come together. And don’t forget worship is a whole-life offering of our bodies as living sacrifices (Romans 12:1-2).

  9. Tim,

    Thanks for the great post. I’ve been pondering discipleship in ordinary life of late and you’ve put into words what has thus far escaped me. Now I’ve more to ponder.

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