I had a question recently on the difference between missional communities and small group Bible studies or house groups …
House groups often tend to be a weekly meeting. People talk about ‘house group night’ – the evening in which they ‘do’ house group by attending a meeting. A missional community is about a shared life, a network of relationships, a genuine community of people.
House groups are often centred around a Bible study. The Bible is central to the life of a missional community, but the Bible is read, discussed and lived throughout the week in the context of a shared life.
House groups are often insular and focused on the mutual care of their members. Pastoral care is a feature of missional communities, but they are also groups with a strong sense of mission. They can articulate their vision for mission and identify the specific people they are trying to reach.
House groups are normally managed centrally by the church leadership. Leaders are often fearful of house groups becoming independent. Missional communities are given a mandate to reproduce organically or spin off into church plants.