Small groups on mission don't just happen. Mission doesn't just happen because a pastor, leader or even an entire group wants to it. Mediocrity is a road built with good intentions. Think about it this way. I have faithfully followed the Texas Rangers since 1978. I can still name names of players and give you statistical information about how they played over the years. At the beginning of every year, the players would always say that they had high hopes for the team and that they were aiming for a championship. For over 30 years, I believed them, but they were always one of the worst teams in the league, year after year after year.
That is until Nolan Ryan became the president of the organization. Not only did he bring his reputation as one of the best pitchers of all time, he brought with him a different set of organizational disciplines. Before, the organization try to advance with hype, public pronouncements of excellence and commitment to winning, the signing of big-name players, etc. They had good intentions, but it got them nowhere. Now you don't hear as much about those things. When you look inside how they operate, they are building the team on things like playing as a team, discipline, good coaching, hard work, and a commitment to the long-term. They have develop a different set of practices that permeate the organization. I saw this culture change happening about five or six years ago, even though the results were not immediate. Now we can see the impact with back-to-back trips to the World Series.
Too much of the time, we try to advance mission through public pronouncements, sermons, promotions, programs and the like. And while I'm not against such things, having good intentions for mission and talking a lot about it won't change things. Or if it does bring change, it's not lasting. We cannot be missional by riding the back of hype. Missional living is developed in underground ways, through unseen practices that leaders and communities put into place to make a difference in the world.
In my book Missional Small Groups (along with the Study Guide), I talk about the practices that small groups put into action to live in missional community. In my subsequent book MissioRelate, I introduce the practices of church leaders (senior pastors, small group champions, leadership teams, etc.) put into motion to promote the development of missional community in groups.
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