Last month, I had the privilege of traveling with The Outreach Foundation to lea...
In 2019, I had the opportunity to be part of a cohort of Missional Community (MC) leaders and those interested in forming MCs from all across ECO, led by Alex and Hannah Absalom. Having led and continuing to lead an MC from the start of 2015 with my wife Patty from our home has been a highlight of our ministry together. And truthfully, without the Absalom’s help, we would probably be stuck in some bad habits of leading “too much,” and not developing leaders from within to multiply our community and start new ones. I found the education so valuable that we began another cohort with the Absaloms in 2020, a cohort that was presented with another challenge in a global pandemic. But Alex and Hannah are continuing to lead this group through the hurdles that COVID has created.
These are unprecedented times for ministry. That is the understatement of the year. But in this time where we are all trying new things in order to adapt to our current situation, MCs provide one of the best places to develop lay leadership for the church. A Missional Community by definition is a community of 25-75 people with a common purpose to reach people with the Gospel in a specific population. When Patty and I started ours, we wanted to reach the 72-home gated community that we’ve lived in for the last 15 years in Florida. And there was success in that. However, over time, our focus shifted to the places that I saw community being formed but without intentional Gospel presence. So, the focus became a couple of gyms that I frequented over the last few years. The results have been extraordinary. More people, when hearing what was happening at our home on Sunday nights, people who had been distanced from the church for various reasons, began to express interest and come to our home to experience what was happening. The core group of leaders, lay leaders from a few churches in our town, adopted this mission to reach out to this group even without being part of these particular gyms. And through Alex and Hannah’s teaching, we learned that it couldn’t be just the Terechs leading this group. Other members began to host the gatherings and share in the teaching and praying over the group. Now they are leading, and they are starting their own MCs! No, they didn’t go to seminary, and they are still forming their theology, but they are leading. And we are coaching and helping them with whatever they need. That might sound uncomfortable for some of you, but in order to see multiplication, we are going to have to give our people, as it says in Luke 9:1, “power and authority” to lead.
For such a time as this, it might be the easiest thing you can try as we start to get permission to gather in these groups again in our homes. Find places where community is forming or is forced to form. Whether it be the parents of a particular grade at your local school, the virtual workforce gathered at your local coffee shop, a local youth sports league or the like. Community is being formed at these places. What would it be like for your group to go on mission to these places/groups? What will it take for you to give authority to lay leaders to reach them? In a time where online worship is becoming preferred, we cannot rely on folks to show up at the church on Sunday morning “in search of” community”. Why not go to the community with a message of hope, of grace, of healing and forgiveness?