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Building a Movement of Missional Communities - part 5 Sunday, March 30, 2008 |

To build anything you must start with the end in mind. This is called endvisioning. Endvisioning starts with looking at the final result you want to achieve and then finding the critical path that gets you there from here. This assumes that you understand your target group. You ask the questions:

  • "What will it take for all my people to be reached?"
  • "What is needed?"
  • "What will it look like when they are reached?"

For example, there is a true story of a people group in China where the strategists realized there were 4800 unreached villages among 1.4 million people. So they asked the question, "What is needed?"

They needed 4800 churches (missional communities) in 4800 villages.

Can you see any way to get there in an oppressive country where evangelists are illegal, the people are remote, illiterate and poor, and as foreigners you speak no Chinese language or local dialect and have no Chinese partners? YET, the end-vision is STILL 4800 churches (missional communities).

After looking at the end, you ask what the stages of a movement would look like just prior to reaching your end-vision. These strategists in China started with the end in mind and worked their way back:

5. 4800 village churches
4. 90+ district churches
3. 35 key area churches
2. 11 county churches (Prioritize most populous counties)
1. Nothing but a vision

The KEY to the whole movement was starting churches (missional communities) with the “seeds” of a kingdom movement within them – "movement" churches. They realized that yes, they could plead, prod, encourage and train local Christians to start 11 “seed” churches. And they helped them start horse churches not mule churches - horses reproduce... mules do not.

So, start with the end in mind.

[ Review: Part 1 Part 2 Part 3 Part 4]

image: Movement/Movimiento by: victor_nuno

Building a Movement of Missional Communities - part 4 Saturday, March 22, 2008 |

In Part 1 and 2 of this series we looked at the first six elements of a movement of missional communities (MMC), or multiplying house churches. Let's look at elements 7 through 10:

7. Small Groups / House Churches / Missional Communities
MMCs are not sparked by people whose idea of “church” is just a large group of unengaged people sitting and soaking in a sanctuary. MMCs are sparked by people whose idea of “church” is an interdependent network of communities of people gathering wherever they can to minister to one another to be on mission. These groups may or may not come together on a regular basis to celebrate, worship, and receive advanced training. (Our network of missional communities do come together weekly on Sundays.)

Reproducing communities have 10 to 30 members. They have an effective witness in their locality. They meet in an intimate setting where they can easily hold one another accountable. Each group is a spiritual family with a high sense of mutual concern. Leadership tasks are more easily done.

P.O.U.C.H. Communities:
• Participative Bible Teaching: Every member contributes. Every member reproduces.
• Obedience to Scripture: The Bible, not a leader, is the ultimate authority. Study emphasizes application.
• Unpaid Leaders: Self-supporting men and women. The get on-the-job training as they need it – little by little, over time.
• Cell Groups (already discussed their traits).
• Houses, coffee shops, and other “third places” are typical meeting places: Encourages witness to family and neighbors. Can use existing facilities. No need for large funds and projects.

8. Missional Communities Starting New Missional Communities
MMCs are not sparked by people who want to plant missional communities one at a time. MMCs are sparked by people who want to see groups planting groups. They teach new believers that reproduction is natural. They teach new believers that no external aids are needed to start a new missional community.

9. Rapid Reproduction and Multiplication
MMCs are not sparked by people who plan for slow growth. MMCs are sparked by people who plan for rapid growth. A MMC continues to spread if believers, groups, and leaders are reproducing regularly.

Intentional multiplication launches new missional groups in a strategy for reaching unreached networks of people adding fuel to the fire of a movement. The resources are in the Harvest. We’ve estimated that there are approx. 600,000 lost people in Austin! That means that 99.7% of our future leaders, hosts, apprentices, and laborers are not yet believers. That means that we must focus on prayer, evangelism and simple training to find the majority of our future leaders and laborers.

10. Healthy, Missional Communities
MMCs are not sparked by people who have a low view of church. MMCs are sparked by people who long to see healthy communities and churches. Healthy Traits: worshipping Christ, living in community, getting trained for ministry, and making disciples.

[ Review: Part 1 Part 2 Part 3]

image: Movement/Movimiento by: victor_nuno

Building a Movement of Missional Communities - part 3 Thursday, March 20, 2008 |

George Patterson wrote a book called Church Multiplication Guide based on his experience with church multiplication movements in Latin America. Four things he says that have been helpful for my understanding of leadership and movements of the gospel:

1. Loving obedience to God's Word should be the mark of success for leadership.

2. Keep the bar for leadership high, but the entry point low.

3. On-the-job training is the best way to develop leaders.

4. Leadership development should be little-by-little and topic-by-topic.

We will never see a movement of missional communities as long as we wait for the "perfect" leader. Peter was years into leading the largest church in the history of Christianity (at the time) when Paul rebuked him for being a racist and having bad theology. Why do we look for the perfect leader when the New Testament model was full of leaders who were imperfect, yet learned and grew over time?

[ Review Part 1 , Part 2 ]

image: Movement/Movimiento by: victor_nuno

Building a Movement of Missional Communities - part 2 Tuesday, March 18, 2008 |

In Part 1 of this series we looked at the first two elements of a movement of missional communities (MMC) or house churches. Let's look at a few more universal elements:

3. Intentional Planting of new Missional Communities
MMCs are not sparked by people who are aiming only to do needed community projects, start Bible studies, evangelize and/or disciple. MMCs happen when groups plant new groups. To spark an MMC, someone must design a strategy that will get missional communities to plant new missional communities. To spark a MMC, someone must implement that strategy.

4. Scriptural Authority
MMCs are not sparked by people who have several sources of authority. MMCs are sparked by people who consider the Bible the one and only authority regarding what to believe and how to live. The Bible must become the guiding source for belief, church polity, and life itself. Bible teaching is usually based on questions which arise from the text itself. New believers hold each other accountable to live under the Bible’s authority. In MMCs, two measures of success are used:

1) obedience of new believers, missional communities, and leaders to the Bible; and
2) degree of reproduction.

5. Local Leadership
MMCs are not sparked by people who believe that only mature outsiders can start and lead new missional communities. MMCs are sparked by people who raise up local people to start and lead new missional communities. Rather than doing all the work themselves, they coach people in doing the ministry as soon as possible.

6. Lay Leadership
MMCs are not sparked by people who believe that only professionally trained people can start and lead new missional communities. MMCs are sparked by people who raise up groups of unpaid lay people to lead and start new missional communities. These leaders are bi-vocational.

Role of Paid Clergy: As an MMC unfolds, the need for paid clergy often emerges. However, the people on the growing edge of the MMC continue to be bi-vocational believers. This ensures the largest possible pool of potential leaders and church planters.

[ Review Part 1 ]

image: Movement/Movimiento by: victor_nuno

Redemption and Restoration - Block Party style! Monday, March 17, 2008 |

My wife has a great post on our first block party here in the neighborhood. Here's an excerpt:

We truly had the poor, homeless, 2 prostitutes, one widow, one drug dealer and many children eating together with the believers of Christ. I'm telling you, there is no life better than that!

I love that we live in a neighborhood where a professor and a prostitute can come together at the same party. I love that we can engage in redemption and restoration, and join God in His mission here in this community. Trust me, He's been here far longer than any of us, and we are standing on the shoulders of so many other spiritual giants who have gone before, but how great it is to be a part of seeing Jesus renew all things.

The words of N.T. Wright are still ringing in my ears:
“The whole world is God’s holy land. At the moment the world appears as a place of suffering and sorrow as well as of power and beauty. But God is reclaiming it. That’s what Jesus death and resurrection were all about. And we are called to be part of that reclaiming. One day all creation will be rescued from slavery, from the corruption, decay, and death which deface its beauty, destroy its relationships, remove the sense of God’s presence from it, and make it a place of injustice, violence, and brutality. That is the message of rescue, of “salvation,” at the heart of” the gospel." - Simply Christian

simple & organic Friday, March 14, 2008 |

I've decided, after a year or so of using another blog design, to go with a simpler, more organic look and feel. In my old blog, the links, book review, blogrolls, and buttons were all crowded on the left and right side of the blog, making it the blog equivalent of a Golden Corral buffet. (Which type of mashed potato should I choose? There's so many...)

The links, book reviews, and blogrolls are all above, granted that you take advantage of the little tag labeled "Pull". Once you do, you will notice that all of the old links have been compressed and categorized into far fewer links to navigate. My hope is that this will be easier on the eyes, and simpler to navigate. Plus I like the organic feel.