Missional Communities

If you’ve been around the Branch lately you’ve probably heard us talking about Missional Communities (MCs). But maybe you’re wondering just what exactly MCs are — or why we’re planning to start a few. This page has been created to help answer basic questions about MCs and paint a broad picture for what God is doing through these communities.

Right now, there are still a number of questions about what exactly missional communities will look like at the Branch. But we think that’s ok. In fact, we think this provides a unique opportunity for you to learn with us and add your voice along the way.

So have fun exploring the resources below — and as you do, let us know if God begins to stir your heart. We’d consider it joy to have you lock arms with us.

the Basics (understanding the what and why of missional communities)

  • The summary from Wikipedia is a helpful place to begin:  Missional Community (also called Clusters, Go Communities, Mid-Sized Communities, Mission Shaped Communities, MSCs) is a group of anything from 20 to 50 or more people who are united, through Christian community, around a common service and witness to a particular neighborhood or network of relationships. With a strong value on life together, the group has the expressed intention of seeing those they impact choose to start following Jesus, through this more flexible and locally incarnated expression of the church. The result will often be that the group will grow and ultimately multiply into further Missional Communities. Missional Communities are most often networked within a larger church community (often with many other Missional Communities). 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. For the full Wikipedia Article, click here.
  • Missional Communities adopt certain values and rhythms that guide their life together.  In the coming months, the Branch will identify what values/rhythms will guide us.  In the meantime,  here are the rhythms of a church we’ve been learning from.
  • Jeff Vanderstelt: Rhythms [VERGE 2010 Main Session] from Verge Network on Vimeo.

Examples (so what do MCs look like?)

  • Here’s a video that tells the story of missional communities in one church in Tacoma, WA.

    Soma Communities – Tacoma, WA from Verge Network on Vimeo.

  • Here’s an example of a specific missional vision that fueled a MC: Beth’s group is a women-only MC, since that is what she felt the Lord was calling her to build. Naturally, they have sought to do mission activities related to women, but the breakthrough for a sustained approach came when Beth began connecting with a ministry that fights human trafficking. The city where she lives is located at the intersection of two major highways and is a significant hub for this horrendous problem. A local non-profit runs houses of refuge for women who escape or are rescued by the police, but this is very resource-intensive as the women arrive traumatized and with few possessions. Beth, who loves parties, wanted to find a creative way to both fundraise and also to draw women together in positive relationships. So she founded WRATH – Women Rallying Against Traffic in Humans. Her idea was to host great parties for women, where as part of the evening everyone brings a certain thing that the rescue house needs (whether it’s shoes or toiletries or food or whatever). As part of the evening, there is a short presentation and then people are invited to host their own WRATH parties with their own circles of friends. Beth’s aim is for her and the MC to educate , equip and empower women to do this, so that they can build an ever-widening network of women, most of whom are successful and prosperous but together can support some of the most vulnerable and abused women in society.
  • Pam on an MC Serving an Disadvantaged Single Mom: When our church moved to its present building, we had a God-given vision to impact our local area zip code, which is known for high crime, drugs and gangs. We wanted to help break this cycle and the many strongholds Our missional community (MC) is heavily involved in this through Whiz Kids, a faith-based literacy program that allows us to connect with families of elementary aged children and take the light of Jesus into their homes. This past summer, a young couple in our MC felt God challenge them to give their car away. They contacted me and I suggested giving it to one of the single mothers with whom we have regular relationship through Whiz Kids. She had two daughters in Whiz Kids and two sons in prison. She worked hard at her job, but needed dependable transportation. The resource staff at church helped to manage the process of transfer of title and I had the privilege of taking her to get her insurance started. After procuring the license tag, I picked her up at work, brought her to church and watched a great big smile appear on her face. You would’ve thought that we were giving her the biggest and best BMW. As we pulled out of the parking log, she pulled up beside me, looking like a teenager who just got her first car! With a BIG wave and huge smile she was off, all the time know that Jesus had sent a big blessing her way.

We’ll be adding more resources in the coming weeks. In the meantime, if you’re ready to learn more, just let us know and we’ll point you towards the most helpful resources we’ve come across.

Culture :: Fire

fireFire is our metaphor for the way that God encounters culture. Perhaps the most wonderful thing about God is that God comes. God doesn’t just sit up in the divine council waiting for us to come. We all know that we’d never make it. Instead God comes to us. This is the heart of the Biblical story. From Genesis through Revelation, time after time, God comes to meet his people. Each and every time God encounters not only human beings but also the culture that inevitably surrounds us. Think about it. God can’t come to a person with out being relevant to that person’s culture (language, geography, ethics, morality).

So when God comes to dwell with us, and this may seem obvious, but God comes as Jew. Jesus was a Jew. The color of his skin and eyes, the shape of his face, the way he dressed and even the way he smelled was Jewish. Does this mean that out of all the myriad variety of human beings on this planet the ancient Jewish people are the best representation of God? Certainly not. God comes with a message, and in order that God might be heard and understood, God becomes relevant to Israel in the form of Jesus Christ. But Jesus was different. He was very much a part of the Jewish culture, but he was also more. He was the very best of that culture. He encountered the culture of the Jewish people and like a purifying fire, proceeded to transform it.

Encountering culture means being relevant and transformative. It does not mean unconditional accommodation of culture. But if the church has learned anything from the highs and lows of the last few centuries of missionary activity, it’s this: in order to communicate the good news of the Kingdom of God, we must first become relevant (in more than just language) to the culture. Fire seems a good metaphor for this encounter considering the frequency that God chooses to appear in fire (think burning bush, pillar of fire and smoke and Pentecost just to name a few). So what does it mean to encounter and be transformative in our culture? This is a question that must constantly be asked if we are to be faithful witnesses of the Kingdom of God. To put it bluntly, relevance to culture is not optional.