The ‘Unbounded Church’ is an ‘Idea’,
the idea that for the church to be missionally effective in the Australian it needs to be unbound, set free from the rigid, inflexible and ponderously slow, change-averse 'Christendom' forms and structures which bind it.
The way this ‘Idea’ is being expressed is through the creation and embedding of small Missional Communities (MCs), which function as Kingdom-Outbreaks, specifically in places where unchurched, and unreached, Australians already meet on a regular basis or are comfortable to meet. This means generally in public locations.
However, while many are involved in the implementation of such Missional Communities, often they feel, and indeed are, very much on their own. It is for this reason that a ‘Gathering’ was organized in October to bring together as many as possible of those who are involved in the development, embedding, and multiplication of Missional Communities. The main purpose was to provide encouragement, to show that all, no matter how small, are involved in a ‘bigger and important’ thing, but also to provide an opportunity for knowledge-sharing, the gaining of ideas and some equipping.
Much encouragement came from stories of how God has been at work in a wide range of MCs of varying styles and cultural contexts. Here are a few.
A small group of Christians have turned an existing ‘Self Defence’ (Karate) Class attended by many non-Christian families into a ‘Church for those who come’. The initial step was to ask if any of the class members were interested in staying behind afterward to read the Bible. This got a couple of takers, and in the course of time, this number has grown. To the Bible reading has been added a prayer time for the needs of the group. As the group has continued there has been a number of conversions, for which the Self-defence class has become their ‘church’!
Another story we heard was of a group of Christians starting a club for those interested in ‘Board Games’. This is following the same strategy as the ‘Self defense’ class by initially introducing a bible study time, and while still young has non-Christians already joining.
A small detail, but one significant for effective mission, is that the instigator of this MC does not like Board Games himself, but saw an opportunity for the gospel and pursued it.
We also heard of the MC that gathers in what can only be described as a seedy pub environment, not the sort of place most of the Christian members find particularly comfortable. The group has developed strong relationships with many of the ‘regulars who now insist that the Christians join them and run a Bible study! They also have a regular prayer time. Truly God is at work here!
All these are just a few of the examples shared of how God will enable the taking of the message of Christ into the alien universes of the lost if we, guided by the Holy Spirit, are open to what he wants to do and are intentional and creative in how, and where, we are prepared to do it. When we are, then God will provide the encouragement to seek to develop yet more and varied forms of MCs. In fact, it can be said that the types of MCs that can be created, and the contexts in which they can be established, will only be limited by self-imposed reluctance to step out and our imaginations.
The ‘Gathering’ had many benefits but was most certainly a time of great encouragement and more are planned. Watch this space and come along!
Martin J. Bragger,
Facilitator Unbounded Church