Now you might be thinking that your church is small and you don’t need all the elaborate processes (discussed in this series) for moving people to get on the airplane of missional community. Or you might be a new church plant that has started out with a vision for missional community from the beginning. Good point. Let’s address the small church today. Tomorrow, we will look at the new church plant.
You would think that as much as we talk about mega-churches that there are more of them than there are. But the reality is that over 90% of the churches in America are less than 100 people. I grew up in one of those churches in North Texas. It was actually a very good experience for me because it was a healthy loving group of people. But if you insert a vision for missional community into that church, people will do a little “freaking out.”
In the 1990s we observed this in church after church as we consulted with churches to help them develop organic, missional small groups. One small church in the suburbs of San Fransisco went all out for this vision. The church voted to go this direction and the board was fully behind it. Traditional people even participated in the groups. But then they started reaching people with painted hair and tattoos and they started coming to worship services. That’s when it became clear that the established people were not discipled for missional life. They had not been formed for mission. Even though the established members of this church had been followers of Jesus for many years, they were not equipped to be the kind of church that makes missional communities flourish.
I wish I knew then what I know now. Not everyone is ready for missional community. It matters not how much they agree with the vision. In a church of 100, if you have five or six who are equipped to experiment with missional community, you are on the right track. The other 95 people need some kind of connecting small group that will allow them the space to take appropriate steps toward a future of participation in missional community.
For previous entries in this series, click here. More tomorrow.