This is from the teaching notes from Sunday School a couple days ago and our Missional Community meeting yesterday.
The Incarnation: How to Be a Missionary
Read Luke 4.40-44. What do you notice?
-Jesus begins his public ministry and people start to respond in droves.
-Bearing the burden alone, Jesus seeks desolate places to rest.
-The people try to prevent him from leaving, which is different from following him.
Continue reading Luke 5.1-11. What do you notice in the calling of the first disciples?
-The beach is teeming with people, Jesus solicits help from fishermen mending their nets.
-Tells Simon to go out into the lake. Simon complains that it hasn’t worked before.
-After obeying, Simon receives an astonishing sign: two boats teeming with fish.
-Simon’s response, “Away from me, Lord! I am a sinful man!” reminiscent of Isaiah 6.
-Call to follow refocuses Simon on the true harvest.
-Simon later writes 1 Peter 5.10, where the word ‘restore’ is the same as the word in Luke 5 for ‘mending’ nets.
There is an individual decision we all make to “leave and follow” (two ways of saying the same thing, really). But engaging the mission is never an individual activity. Even Jesus did not try to accomplish his earthly mission alone, even if ultimately the cross was his alone to bear. Luke 5 is the story of the formation of Jesus’ Missional Community.
Forming a Missional Community
A Missional Community is defined by its calling, a commitment to love over time. People choose to belong to Missional Community because of a shared calling or mission, or because they are committed to the leader or other people who have received that call. So how do we discern a calling?
Read Exodus 3.1-12. When God calls Moses, he mentions three things in this order:
1. The people cried out for redemption.
2. God heard them and had come down to redeem them.
3. God wanted Moses to participate in his work.
One way of defining calling might be a decision by God to redeem his people using a particular person or community.
Our calling as a community is not about being the lead character in a story about us. The story is about God and his redemption being poured into Alton, and we’re just going for Best Supporting Actor/Actress. So we ask ourselves these questions:
1. What are the people of Alton crying out for? What are the major needs? Who/Where do you feel called to?
2. How is God answering that need? What is he doing? What are you hearing from God?
3. How can we respond/participate? What are our gifts? What do we feel called to do?
Missional Community Structure
A Missional Community is a group of people who wade through those questions to discern their place in God’s story. Then, they reshape their individual and community life according to that mission. The basic template for structuring a group looks like this:
1. Love Your Neighbor As Yourself. A monthly rhythm balancing inward and outward focus.
2. As You Go, Make Disciples. Commitment to both learning and doing, and teaching others the same thing.
3. True Fellowship. Our value of participation or sharing in common shapes leadership roles, inclusion of children in worship and service, and an offer of friendship to the least of these.
4. Rule of Life. Community and personal rhythms to balance communion, community, and mission.
With that basic gospel DNA and the commitment to go together, permission is granted to form new Missional Communities. As we look toward multiplying by the end of February, pray through those three sets of questions we’ve derived from Moses’ call narrative. What kind of Missional Community would you love to help lead? What calling is God giving to us? The shores are teeming with people; it’s time to hear Jesus’ call to leave and follow, together.