Goal: 1001 New Missional Communities

Apparently the desire to begin new “missional communities” within the PC(USA) is not limited to the local or even Presbytery level. Now, at the national level God has seen fit to put people in place who are also sensing this call. If you ask me, when something like this grabs hold of so many different people within the church at the same time it is a clear indication that the Spirit is moving!

There is an interesting article pointing to this move at the National level in the most recent issue of The Presbyterian Outlook. The article, written by Erin Dunigan, is called “Rekindling the Spirit Needed for Mission to Flourish.” I would provide a link, but I cannot find it on their website yet. Here are some excerpts.

“The PC(USA) is ____________ .” What would you use to fill in the blank? The hope of Roger Dermody, deputy executive director for the General Assembly Mission Council, is that the answer would be “people who are changing lives.” Dermody’s vision, fleshed out as 1001 new missional communities in 10 years, is an ambitious challenge for a denomination that has faced struggles of political and theological controversy as its membership declines. Dermody came to the GAMC after nearly two decades of ministry at Bel Air Presbyterian Church in Los Angeles. “By God’s grace I was part of some ministries that, even though circumstances looked bleak, they turned around,” he said. His current call, he said, is to be a catalyst for new life. “We in the Presbyterian Church used to have this incredible entrepreneurial spirit that created hospitals (and) amazing schools, as well as churches. So what I began to wonder was: How can we help inspire people to get back to that?” It was from that wondering that “1001 in 10” was born…

…Dermody said “1001 in 10” is also not meant to discount the mission and ministry of existing congregations, but rather to engage those communities in thinking of new experiments. The term missional communities rather than churches or congregations is intentional. “The minute you call something a ‘church’ we have so many rules that it almost chokes something out before it even starts,”…

Although I would agree that changing the language may create some freedom from regulation, a more positive reason for using the term “missional community” is to reinforce that idea the a gathering of believers is supposed to be identified by their common mission in Christ rather than a shared denominational membership, church building, etc. However, I recognize that the language is very important when you are talking about finding a place for something new within an existing denominational structure and polity. The article goes on to explain that there is a desire to support the grassroots movements (like the one we are beginning, I hope) rather than legislate it top-down.

[Dermody’s] hope, … is to create a movement where the church rediscovers its role in giving birth to new worshipping communities. Dermody said the initiative is not an attempt to bypass the role of middle governing bodies in new church development. “It doesn’t have to come through us,” he said. “Our role is connecting and inspiring the church and using our balcony view to see what is going on and connect that.” Dermody said he would “love this to be something that we all take on together.” He already has commitments from organizations within the PC(USA) for close to half the target number of new missional communities.

Sometimes, timing is everything. Often people want to look at attempts at New Church Development in the past and figure out how to make it work “this time around.” But if this is truly Spirit-initiated then we won’t have to “try,” we just have to respond faithfully.


Girl on filthy street

Last night at Mountain View PC we had a great evening talking about Justice and spending time in worship asking the question: “What is my next step?” What an awesome ministry my good friends Phil and Amy are engaged in with Steps of Justice!  I am convinced that the Church is called to be at the forefront of stepping out against injustice as it acts out the prayer: “Your kingdom come!” I’m not as confident in stating what this looks like exactly. I have a feeling that it will be slightly different for each community of faith.

It is my prayer that whatever form this Stanwood/Camano Island church development takes, that it would be infused with the desire to both reach those who do not yet know the grace of Jesus Christ, and to follow Jesus in reaching out to the “least of these” (Matthew 25:45). One of the most exciting things to me about being engaged in the birthing of a new faith community is the opportunity to infuse some of these qualities into the “DNA” of the community. But in order to do this we must be aware of what the issues are. We must be willing to move beyond self-centeredness and open our eyes to the world around us. This is no easy task.

What do you believe are the most pressing “justice” issues in the Stanwood/Camano area?

“Discernment Team” Defined

One of my goals in keeping this blog is to help keep those of you interested in this new church development updated on our progress in real-time. Keeping that in mind, and since we are currently in the process of gathering a “discernment team,” I want to help define this using information from “Starting New Churches” document that we are using to guide us through this process.

Discernment Team: This is the group who will discern God’s will for the beginning of a new church among a particular people or community. This group will covenant together to work through the gatherings of “Starting New Churches” once they have completed their third gathering. They may or may not continue to be part of the Core Leadership of the projected new church. There are several moments for members of the Discernment Team to reaffirm their commitment to the processes or to move on.

It is important to remember that this group called to begin the process, but not necessarily to be the ones to carry it through to completion in the “launch” phase. For that reason, the team will be small and focused on listening to God’s direction for laying the foundation. Others, who are not part of the discernment team, will later be “called” to be core leaders and to carry out the vision that results from the discernment process (though there will be some core leaders that are also a part of the discernment team).
Currently, we are inviting specific people to be a part of this team. Here is some insight into that process from “Starting New Churches.”

Making the Invitation
We are not looking for people to simply “fill out” a committee. We are looking for highly skilled and highly motivated people. We are looking for Christian people. We are engaged in a spiritual task. This will take time, sacrifice, and faith. The invitation by the convener is to a 16 gathering process called “Starting a New Church.” The guidelines for these gatherings are available at www.PresbyGrow.net. The guidelines give a suggested process and schedule. We strongly suggest that the conveners familiarize themselves with the process before they extend an invitation to others to join in. We recommend the process include all 16 gatherings. When done, if we decide a new church is what God is asking of us, the team will have completed all the work needed for mission grants and to call the appropriate leadership for the new church.

You can read more about the discernment team in the appendix section of the “Starting New Churches” document. The key thing for us is that we have representatives of Mountain View Presbyterian Church (as the “parent” church), representatives of the Stanwood/Camano Island community, and representatives from NPS Presbytery.

Jeff Vanderstelt: What is a missional community? | Verge Network

Question #1: What is a missional community?

A Missional Community is a Family of Missionary Servants who make Disciples who make Disciples.Family – First of all a missional community is a group of believers who live and experience life together like a family. They see God as their Father because of their faith in the person and work of Jesus Christ and the new regeneration brought about by the Holy Spirit.This means they have and know of a divine love that leads them to love one another as brothers and sisters. They treat one another as children of God deeply loved by the Father in everything – sharing their money, time, resources, needs, hurts, successes, etc… They know each other well. This knowledge includes knowing each other’s stories and having familiarity with one another’s strength and struggles in regards to belief in the gospel and its application to all of life.They speak the gospel truth to one another, regularly building each other up in love. They also love the people around them as if they were part of the family, showing them what the love of the Father looks like and in so doing inviting them to experience life in the family of God.John 1:11-13; Rom. 12:10-16; Eph 5:1-2Missionaries – God’s family is also sent like the Son by the Spirit to proclaim the good news of the kingdom – the gospel – and fulfill the commission of Jesus. A missional community is more than a bible study or a small group that cares for other believers.A missional community is made up of Spirit-led and filled people who radically reorient their lives together for the mission of making disciples of a particular people and place where there is a gospel gap no consistent gospel witness. This means people’s schedule, resources and decisions are now collectively built around reaching people together.Matt. 3:16-4:1; Jn. 20:21; Acts 1:8; Acts 13:2Servants – Jesus is Lord and we are his Servants. A missional community serves those around them as though there are serving Jesus. In doing so, they give a foretaste of what life will be like under the rule and reign of Jesus Christ.Living as servants to the King who serve others as he served, presents a tangible witness to Jesus’ kingdom and the power of the gospel to change lives. A missional community serves in such a way that it demands a Gospel explanation – lives that cannot be explained in any other way than by the Gospel of the Kingdom of Jesus.Matt. 20:25-28; Jn. 13:1-17; Phil. 2:5-11; 1 Pet. 2:16Disciples – We are all learners of Jesus our rabbi who has given us his Spirit to teach us all that is true about Jesus and enable us to live it out his commands. Jesus commanded us to make disciples who believe the gospel, are established in a new identity and are able to obey all of his commands Matt. 28:19-20. The missional community is the best context in which this can happen.Disciples are made and developed: 1 through life on life, where there is visibility and accessibility 2 in community, where they can practice the one anothers, and 3 on mission where they learn how to proclaim the gospel and make disciples.What do you think about Jeff’s definition of missional community? What other questions does this leave you with? Join the conversation in the comment section below…Jeff Vanderstelt is a Church Planter who leads Soma Communities, a body of church planting churches in the South Puget Sound. He also serves as the Vice President West of Acts 29 as well as the Church Planters Advisory Counsel for the Conservative Baptist NW Association. Jeff spends most of his time equipping church planters and church leaders in Gospel Centered Leadership and Missionally focused methodology. He has been planting churches for 7 years. Prior to that he was a youth pastor in four different churches over the span of 14 years, the most recent being Willow Creek Community Church in Chicago. Jeff has been married for 18 years to Jayne and together they love and shepherd 3 beautiful children in the Gospel and Mission of Jesus Christ. Twitter: @JeffVanderstelt.

via Jeff Vanderstelt: What is a missional community? | PRINTABLE | Verge Network.

Why The Missional Movement Will Fail

Mike Breen: Why The Missional Movement Will Fail | ARTICLE | Verge Network.

This is an interesting article. Click on the title to check it out. As I read it I realized that I never thought that it was possible to be “missional” without making disciples. I’ve always assumed that we would be doing both. After all, isn’t that the mission that we have been charged with (Matt. 28:18-20)? Can you be on mission for God without being a disciple? Can you be a disciple without participating in God’s mission?

broken down car