Q: Do I have to be all in or all out?
A: The simple answer is, “no”. The beauty of MCs is that they allow for people (all people — those at the Branch and those not at the Branch) to participate in a MC at various levels. Some people will participate in all activities of the MC, but others will engage occasionally — or only in a particular aspect of the MC — and that is ok. We understand that not all those who are involved in MCs will be at the same place of spiritual development or life stage. The important thing is that each person who is ready to be involved on some level is ready to be making forward motion toward living more and more missionally in the world, no matter your starting point!
To get an even fuller understanding about the answer to this question, we strongly encourage you to look at the ‘layers’ documents here.
Q: I am a busy person! Is there a place for me?
A: That depends on you. This is an important question because most of us feel this tension. It is the accepted norm in our world today to be busy. But if we’re honest, it is also one of the greatest enemies of being a disciple of Jesus Christ. Which is why we regularly encourage people at the Branch to ask, “Why?” “Why am I so busy, and what am I busy with?” Ultimately, “In what ways does my busy-ness keep me from faithfully following Jesus Christ?”
As we ask these questions, we believe that the Spirit will show us if anything needs to change: areas that need to be pruned away, decisions that need to be made, priorities that need to be reconfigured. And once the Spirit has spoken, it is our responsibility to obey. Ok…now, back to Missional Communities. Is there a place for people who are busy in a MC? Yes (see Q&A above), but we want to be clear: in order to live incarnationally — and to be meaningfully connected to others — and in order to be a part of what God is doing in the world — we are going to have to become less busy (whether or not a person may ever join a MC). We are going to have to say ‘no’ to some things so that we can say ‘yes’ to other things. We may need to shut off the cable or restructure our weekends or… (you decide)!
So first thing’s first: is our busy-ness keeping us from being a disciple of Jesus Christ? If it is, what needs to change? Once we’ve wrestled with these questions, it will be much easier to see how and if we can be involved in a MC.
Q: Does a Missional Community focus only on meeting the needs of the broken?
A: Every MC will have a unique mission focus, but that focus could literally be anything. The only requirement is that it is a vision for mission that originates from the Holy Spirit. This means that one MC might focus on poverty in a particular neighborhood or supporting refugees, but another might focus on network of relationships of business executives or suburban high-school students.
In the end, it is most important to understand that our mission is about making disciples by participating in the renewal and redemption of the world around us. The good news is that God is with us! This will be the underlying inspiration for an MC’s identity and activities. We may need to be creative about how to stretch outside our traditional understanding of church “missions” in order to see where God is calling us to participate.
It is also important to say that while each MC will have a particular mission that drives it, there are other critical elements of an MC that go beyond mission. For example, borrowing a family dynamic, every MC will regularly do things that build community and strengthen the relationships of those associated with that MC. Missional Communities will also spend energy growing in faith and helping others do the same (making disciples). We strongly encourage you to look at the Rhythms document to get a fuller sense of what MCs will be doing. Especially note the rhythms of “Eating”, “Story”, “Re-create” and “Listen” as we learn how to live together as a critical part of our participation in God’s mission in the world.
Q: Can I be part of an MC even if I’m not a charismatic leader type?
A: YES. Let’s be honest — few of us are charismatic leader types! Missional Communities are for all people — people of all personality types — people from all kinds of religious backgrounds (including people with no religious background) — people in different stages of life — etc. If you haven’t already, we strongly encourage you to take a look at this information on who is in a Missional Community. Here is where we must all be reminded that our role in a Missional Community is based on the task of incarnational living. This means that we live our own lives, when we are together with each other and when we’re not gathered, in a way the claims God’s goodness, promises, and call to the Church. This is about living out a message of good news, “God is with us”. While this simple task is a stretch for many of us, we can all do it! We can learn to let the mission of God and our understanding of the great Story form our decisions about where to live, what schools to attend, whether to get married or have children, what jobs to take on, how to eat, pray and live in our neighborhoods…and so on. These are choices we all make anyway. Our role as a member of an MC will not require us to be skilled street evangelizers or charismatic people organizers. Our influence will be personalized to our own lives and personalities. That’s good news indeed!
Q: Can I help lead an MC even if I don’t have a theological education or leadership training?
A: Absolutely. In fact, Missional Communities are meant to be led by ‘ordinary’ people. Each Missional Community will have three, maybe four or five, people who will make the commitment to provide leadership for the group. Few, if any, of these people will have formal theological training. What these people will have, however, is a strong sense of calling to a particular type of mission and a demonstrated willingness to listen to and be obedient to the Holy Spirit. To get a fuller sense of what we will be asking of those leading MCs, see the commitments “Covenant Members” will be asked to make.
Q: What about my kids?
A: Yes! Kids are welcome, necessary and appreciated in the life of a Missional Community. There are certain things your kids will get out of being part of this sort of family/community. And, there are things your kids will bring to life of the MC. What’s more, there are certain things that your kids will bring to the world through life in an MC.
Check out this link for details and thoughts on all these things!