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Missional Communities – MCs

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You’re invited!

An invitation that is open to everyone — every week.

It’s an invitation to family.

Over the last couple of years you may have heard us talk about Missional Communities (MCs) and you may have wondered what they’re about. In the simplest terms, MCs are ‘extended families’ locking arms around a common mission. They are a place where relationships can form — the kind of relationships that fuel us to be God’s light and hope to a dark and broken world.

We currently have one MC at the Branch — and you are invited, any time. You can come once and check it out — or come once a month — or every week.  There’s no attendance requirements — just an invitation to come as you’re able.  We plan to have more in the future.

Each MC will in many ways look different from one another — with unique missions and distinct rhythms, but at their core they are the same: extended families with a common purpose.

Here’s some details:

Madison St. MC

  • When: every Thursday evening, 5:30pm-7pm (come when you can)
  • What: Every week we share a potluck dinner.  Most weeks we practice a spiritual discipline with adults and kids.  We are also sponsoring a refugee family together.  We devote some Thursdays to these relationships as well as other times during the week.
  • Where: 2020 Madison Ave. SE
  • Questions? Contact Chris at chris@thebranchonline.org
A few commonly asked questions about Missional Communities:
1) Who’s invited to a MC?
Everyone.  We can’t say that enough.  You.  Your family.  Your friends.  Your neighbors.  Your coworkers.  Anyone who you think would be blessed to be a part of an extended family pursuing a common purpose together.
2) Do I have to be able to commit to come every week in order to participate?
Not at all.  We’d love for you to be there every week, but we know that life and sickness and schedules may mean that you miss some weeks.  That’s ok.  Come a couple times a month — or a couple times a year — honestly, we’ll be glad to see you whenever you’re able to make it.
3) What happens if I’m having one those weeks and can’t bring anything to share at dinner?
Come. 🙂  Really.  We want to see you, regardless of whether you have food with you or not.
4) Do I have to come at the ‘official’ start time?
Nope – come whenever you can.  Let’s say a MC starts at 5:30, but you can’t make it until 6 or 6:30 – it’s no problem.  You’re welcome to come any time — even if it’s just stopping in for a few minutes.

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.

mission

To sign up or learn more, simply email chris@thebranchonline.org

CREATE Team

We hope you’ll join us on March 30th at 7pm as we begin nailing down details for CREATE (our annual arts camp).  This year we’ll need everyone, not just artists, to join in the effort in order to impact the 100+ kids we’re expecting.  If you have the gifts of administration, hospitality, or teaching (or you just enjoy hanging out with kids)  come dream and pray with us.  We’ll be meeting at Branch HQ.

success center

We’ve begun to partner with Hope Reformed Church and a local non-profit (School-to-Career-Progressions) in their Success Center.  Urban youth meet after school for life skills, mentoring, tutoring, artistic expressions, and a weekly meal.  Some of the Branch’s artists have been introducing students to various art forms the last few weeks, and on Wednesday, May 4, we hope you’ll join us in providing diner for these students and the volunteers.  Help us prepare food (4:30-5:30pm) or clean up (6:00-7:00pm).

benefit dinner for the DeYoung family

Last fall the DeYoungs moved to Tanzania to live among and serve the Tanzanian people.  Then, last month, they learned that their oldest daughter, Lola, has leukemia.  They have moved back to MI and will be here for the next two years in order for Lola to receive treatment.  Friday, April 29th, we’ll be hosting a benefit dinner and silent auction to raise funds for the DeYoungs.  Join us from 5-8pm, or sign up to volunteer.  Follow their story at followingthecall.org.

the Church of Alger Heights

Put Saturday, May 21 on the calendar.  We’ll be joining other Alger Heights area churches as we serve the neighborhood.  A team is forming to plan the details and ensure that we have the most impact possible.  If you want to be part of this team, let us know.

give

This Christmas…give a gift that will change the world. Read more

food baskets

Over the next few weeks we’ll be collecting food — putting them into holiday food baskets — and delivering them to local families.  You can participate by bringing a specific food item to the Branch, helping us assemble the baskets, or delivering them to the families.  To sign up or get more details, email chris@thebranchonline.org (all food must be collected by Sunday, November 21)

CREATE Celebration Details!

CREATE concludes tonight!  For details about the celebration, click on the image to the left.

Mission: Tanzania

This past Sunday Matt and Lindsey shared the story of how God is calling them to Tanzania.  We assure you, this is worth a listen (at the bottom of this post).

When you’re finished, you may be wondering how you can partner with God’s work through the DeYoungs?  Here are a few ways:

  1. Stay in touch with the DeYoung’s by adding yourself to their e-mail list.
  2. Commit to consistently pray for the DeYoungs and the people of Tanzania.
  3. Support the DeYoung’s financially.  50 families at $50/month allows them to pack their bags and head out.
  4. Participate in the golf outing on Saturday, July 24 at Wallinwood.

Head to followingthecall.org to contact them, pledge support, or sign up for the golf outing.

Serve

In the coming weeks people from the Branch will be gathering together to serve people locally and beyond.  For details of how you can get involved, click on the “We ‘Heart’ GR” link below.  Then shoot us an email: chris@thebranchonline.org

We ‘Heart’ GR

Mission

mission-picMission is at the heart of the Branch. Every month we’re reaching out to serve and love. We hope you’ll join us. This month we’re focusing our energies on….

ANGEL TREE
This week over 50 gifts, bags of personal care items and holiday meals are headed out to families in the surrounding neighborhoods.  It gives us joy to be a part of extending God’s love in this way!

In January, February and March we’re planning on locking arms with Alger Middle School again, as well as reaching out to the homeless and helping a refugee family get settled to a new life in Grand Rapids.  Details coming soon.

Mission :: Wind

windWe are using wind as a metaphor for mission. Mission is what keeps a community of faith moving. We are led by the spirit for the sake of the world around us, that needs the love of God. Thus wind seems like a good metaphor for mission, especially since both the Hebrew and Greek words for spirit (ruach and pneuma) both include breath or wind in there meaning.

There has always been intense discussion on why or for what purpose the church of Jesus Christ exists. From our reading of the New Testament, the purpose of the church is mission. This is really the only guaranteed purpose of the church as far as we can see. Jesus never promised safety, community, security or anything of personal benefit to us. He came announcing that the Kingdom of God is at hand. He called out followers and sent them out on mission. It’s true that wherever the mission went, community was formed and the community facilitates the mission. Take away mission and the community makes no sense. Take away community and the mission is hindered

It’s important to visualize mission with movement. Jesus did not call his disciples with the words “believe this doctrinal statement” but instead simply said, “follow me”. To follow Jesus on mission requires movement. It requires following the Holy Spirit sent by Jesus to guide us.

Perhaps a few words about what the mission is would be helpful. It seems to us that the ‘follow me’ that Jesus said has oft been replaced with a ‘believe this’ or ‘accept this’. There is a subtle difference in these words; ‘follow me’ implies movement or journey, while the others imply completion. Do this and your done. We’re not trying to say that following Jesus doesn’t have a lot to do with reshaping your beliefs, but plenty of christians respond to a ‘believe this’ and figured they were done and so stopped moving. So Jesus says ‘follow me’ and then sends us out to make disciples (repeat the ‘follow Jesus’), baptize them (forming community with water), and to teach them what Jesus told us (in a nutshell: love God, love others). As far as we can tell that is the mission and it’s why the church exists.