Common Life: Missional Communities (pt 1)
About seven years ago our church, Good News Community Church, began a journey towards transitioning to a community of missional disciples: cleverly disguised missionaries who are serious about the Kingdom of God in the everyday stuff of life. This “transition” implies several things: prayer, eating, service, and learning. Perhaps the greatest implication of becoming followers of Jesus and joining Him in His work of renewal as we collectively submit to His Lordship, was that it would require intentional effort to share a common life with others.
Missional communities, and this is important to mention, is not a programmatic element to the church where we receive a lecture given a chosen topic of our choosing. Rather it is sharing together in the messiness of the human condition, bringing ourselves before Jesus, and trying to work out what it means to be in process — and doing it with other people. A point that can’t be shared enough is the common life we share with each other.
What do I mean by common life? Good question. Let me explain.
Acts 2:46-47 reads, “Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.”
The common life could be defined as the things we normally do, as we follow Jesus, with other people in mind. It’s not some ground-breaking piece of science where it will magically attract people to your church, and doesn’t typically ignite some form of gospel explosion where you have to buy a bigger house to meet with people you’re learning to love. Instead it’s the low-and-slow of the gospel. It is wrestling with our faith and practice over months and years with people who are wrestling, too. It is in the shared experience of meals where we’ve been met with the divine presence of Jesus. It is the space where our kids get to see healthy, Biblical interaction with others; but yet a space where we learn to parent and discipline our young’n’s in a way that reflects what we confess to believe — and with the added accountability and grace we otherwise don’t get in the isolation of our own home.
As we’ve joined our community, and have recently began to lead a missional community, I often begin to wonder how you can chase after the way of Jesus without this. I look at our growing friendships, the vulnerability we lay bare in conversation, the unassuming and unguarded way that we share in laughs over meals, and how my own children have adopted other adults as surrogate mother’s and father’s, and I look back in awe at the many ways Jesus is winning us over to the simplicity of the common life of the believer and I can’t help but just sit back and think: “how could you do this any other way?”
At times this method of discipleship has seemed to me to be too overly simplistic, “is it really that easy?” But in reality, it’s the hardest thing I’ve ever done. It’s easy committing to an hour at a Bible study and doing some homework in my free time. It is next to impossible, only an act of God, a miracle, that He could change my heart in such a way that I would begin to welcome into my home those who were once strangers as now one of my own. It’s easy dropping my kids off at a program for others to deal with. It’s another miracle that I haven’t throttled my own children in front of others. It’s easy to give no thought to Jesus and His invitation to follow Him, but it’s another thing altogether to be reminded of our mutual pursuit of pursing more of Christ whenever I see/talk to/interact with my own missional community. It’s common, but yet my family can’t get enough. It’s common, but I can’t get enough.
This will be a series of blog posts where I’ll explore what the comon life within a missional community looks like and provide alternate narratives for us to consider as we pursue life in Christ with others.