So you are excited about being part of a simple church or missional community.
The name missional community highlights the purpose of these groups in focusing on spreading the gospel and making new disciples and not being just a different way of being church.
Where can I find one in my vicinity? These are the questions often posed by Christians looking for something more than they have experienced so far. In some cases, there may be a missional community that one can join – at least for a time.
However optimally it is usually better to grow a new one with your friends and to reach new people. How do I get started is the usual question?
1. Living Missionally
Firstly we need to focus on the correct order. The order is Jesus – Gospel – missional living - disciple making – gathering rather than the reverse order. It isn’t a matter of first starting a Church gathering, and then trying to attract people to it. Rather it starts with us falling passionately in love with Jesus and capturing his heart for lost people who need a Saviour.
It’s through a relationship with Jesus that people receive healing and cleansing, deliverance from entrenched destructive patterns and behaviours that bring brokenness to their lives and the lives of others.
A heart brimming with the love of Jesus for people is the soil from which missional communities grow.
We need to learn how to make disciples who make disciples rather than just collect existing Christians to our gatherings. Each follower of Jesus needs to be effective in leading others to follow Jesus. Start living missionally with your eyes and heart on Jesus and loving people as He did.
It is best to start with mostly new people though a few Christian friends who share your vision could help. However, avoid just making an alternate style church for “already Christian” believers.
If you have a few Christian friends who have a similar heart and passion, invite them to join you for a time of prayer pray and seek the leading of the Holy Spirit.
Perhaps you could invite them and any other interested people over for a meal or go out to eat, and share the passion that God has put in your heart – not just for a different type of gathering, but growing a missional community where disciples make disciples who make disciples. Rereading the Book of Acts is an excellent biblical focus, and note the principles involved in the early Christian movement. Invite them to join you in praying for the “harvest” and the community and to connect to new people.
It all starts with prayer and the guidance and empowerment of the Holy Spirit. Jesus did not start his public ministry until he was baptised with water and the Spirit who came on him in the form of a dove at his baptism. The disciples were told to wait in Jerusalem until they received “power from on high” before the church was launched. Seeking God in prayer, praying for neighbours and friends and other who don’t yet know Christ is the starting point. Start with prayer and asking Jesus, the Lord of the harvest, what he is already doing in your area? Invite some other believers to join you in interceding for your area.
Prayer walking in the community is helpful as you pray to be led to new people and pray for God’s blessing over the area and for any “principalities and powers” of the enemy that would hinder this work to be bound.
Pray that God will lead you to a “person of peace” (Luke 10, Matt 10). A person of peace is someone who welcomes and is open; to you and to the gospel. This person then can share their discovery with their friends like the woman at the well after she met Jesus.
Maximise opportunities to connect with people who are open to spiritual matters and prayer. In the early part of his public ministry, Jesus spent considerable time getting to know or “connecting” with people. When his first 2 disciples expressed a desire to find out more he simply invited them to “come and see” (John 1:39,46). His followers began to spend time with him and saw and experienced what the kingdom of God looked like. People need opportunities to “taste the kingdom.” This can be through loving acts of service, caring and sharing, prayer, miracles, seeing people’s lives transformed, etc.
Usually, you start with the people already in your relational network or “oikos” – your family, friends, workmates, people you meet at sport or other activities and hobbies, Facebook, etc. Build the relationships with people and ask as God asked Moses “What is in your hand?” What relational networks are we already connecting with? You can build, connect further and develop these relationships over meals, coffee, BBQ’s, or in whatever way you can interact meaningfully. If you listen to people long enough and they will share their needs and issues and how to invite them to accept Christ in their lives. The Holy Spirit will guide you in how to ask spiritual question and pray for them
Reaching beyond your Oikos - you family and relational network.
We also need to intentionally reach out to new people. Start with prayer and asking Jesus the Lord of the harvest what he is already doing in your area? Invite some other believers to join you in interceding for your area. Prayer walking is a great way to start as you intercede for your area, and pray that God will lead you to a “person of peace” (Luke 10, Matt 10). A person of peace is someone who welcomes and is open; to you and to the gospel. This person then can share their discovery with their friends, like the woman at the well after she met Jesus.
So we are living missionally, are sharing Jesus and have a number of friends who aren’t yet followers of Jesus – how do we encourage their spiritual journey to go further?
There are a few tools we need in our personal toolbox to be effective disciplemakers. These include;
Bridging conversations: This involves allowing a conversation to move onto spiritual topics. This may not involve the use of religious language, but recognize spiritual issues. For example, it could be leading a conversation to discuss the more important issues such as identity, spirituality, values, the future, God etc. It could be an answer to prayer, or how your family works or their dreams for the future. Obviously, parts of your story that touch on spiritual matters are very important. Significantly it can also be helping a person to recognize Gods touches or fingerprints in their own life and experiences. Don’t be afraid to ask “could we pray about….? (what they shared).
Your testimony: Learn to share your testimony simply and compellingly. Essentially it is sharing the impact that God has made in your life. It should touch on what your life was like before you encountered Jesus; how you did accept him, and the difference this has made to you since then.
You may need to give a brief overview of the big picture – the “God & man story.” His includes Gods perfect creation marred, by the fall, good and evil, God’s covenant people, the coming of Jesus and his death, resurrection, and kingdom, and his plan to reach all peoples with the Gospel, multiplying Missional Communities (simple churches), and his plan for restoring this world
Invite your friends into your life and missional community. They may not yet have accepted Christ but let them experience what Christian community looks and feels like. It should be like a warm, loving, fun-filled family. People in the simple church group should have a deep level of love and care and relational connection.
5.Inviting people to Follow Jesus in their life
Jesus invited his followers to “Come follow me” ( Mark 1;17). It is important to listen to where people are at in their lives- their joys, issues, challenges and to invite them to follow Jesus. This can be done in so many ways. It could be asking “would you like to find Gods peace in your Life?” or “Have you ever made your peace with God?” “Would you like to do that now?” “Would you like to have the slate wiped clean and have a new start in your life?” “Would you like to invite Jesus into your life?” After the invitation, wait quietly for the person to respond. And ask the Holy Spirit for guidance. They may say “yes” or “no” or “not now.” They may be ready to make this decision, need more time, or there may be obstacles to deal with. It is important to continue to stay in relationship with them and be connected irrespective of their decision.
When a new disciple has been made, they need ongoing care and mentoring so that they grow in their relationship with Jesus and begin to immediately share their faith and to make further disciples. New Christians need grounding in the basics of the Christian faith and to be taught how to feed on the Word of God, pray, listen to the Holy Spirit and grow spiritually. This process happens as they connect with and form a missional community or simple church.
If you want to find out more:
Scan through all the articles of the OIKOS website which provide background and resources about home church
Contact us about a Event in your part of the world. Go to the Event section on this website to find out details.
Contact us to talk with someone in your region about particular needs or questions you may have.
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