The ‘In’ and ‘Out’ of a Gospel Community on Mission
A gospel community on mission is a way to organize the church to gather and send groups of people on a common mission, i.e. to engage refugees in the city, care for foster families, or help the homeless, etc.
Simply put: gospel communities are a group of people who are learning to follow Jesus together in a way that renews their city. They aren’t fancy. In fact, they can be a pretty messy community of everyday citizens who are devoted to Jesus, to one another, and lastly to loving their neighbors.
Gospel communities on mission are groups of people committed to the process of growing up in the truth of the gospel and obedience to the gospel. They are multi-focused, both internally and externally driven. They share burdens with one another and spur each other on to love and good deeds. These two focuses actually reinforce each other in an ongoing magnetic way.
Gospel Communities Are Inward Focused
Gospel communities are in the process of believing in, understanding, and obeying Jesus. It is an environment, a people, and an activity. It is an environment where we grow in our understanding and belief. And this is where we participate in helping others grow in their understanding and belief. It is a people we love, care for, and encourage beyond a time-slot but in life.
The inward focus is on sharing the burdens of one another, speaking the truth in love, walking through repentance&faith, and engaging in the regular rhythms of grace.
The inward focused community does these kinds of activities:
- Prayer together
- Scripture reading and discussion together
- Lectio Divina
- Eating and laughing together
- Communion together
- Listening to each other’s stories, struggles, and joys.
- Serving one another in our gifts.
- Thinking and praying for each other when we aren’t together
- Encouraging each other to follow Jesus through blessing
- Discussing our hesitancies, fears, and hopes with following Jesus
Gospel Communities are Outward Focused
They share burdens with one another and spur each other on to love and good deeds. A gospel community isn’t simply about caring for one another and fostering gospel growth. It also focuses on mission because gospel growth cannot be contained in a community but flows out of it. As we taste the gospel and seek repentance it results in faithful obedience.
Gospel Communities are on Mission. Meaning, they are committed to equipping and sending each member into their areas of influence to demonstrate and share the gospel. It also means, as disciples, they share a specific mission to show and speak God’s love in the city. They intentionally, plan, pray, serve, and participate in God’s mission of making all things new whether it is caring for the orphan, widow, refugee, or poor.
The outward focused community does these kinds of activities:
- Prayer for our friends, co-workers, and families
- Mutual encouragement, challenge, and equipping for mission
- Discussing our hesitancies, fears, and hopes with personal and shared mission.
- Planning for shared mission to use each of our gifts for one mission.
- Learning about the needs of those we are called to.
- Doing shared service, care, and listening as we love the poor.
- Creating spaces for friends, neighbors, co-workers, and families to spend time with our gospel community.
Example of How the “In and Out” Might Work Over a Month
Week 1: Weekly Meal where focus is planning, praying for and reflecting on shared Mission. + DNA later in the week.
Week 2: Weekly Meal where focus is listening to each others’ struggles and praying for one another. + Shared Mission Activity later in the week
Week 3: Weekly Meal where focus is listening to each others’ struggles/hopes for gospel to break into work, family, and neighbors. + DNA later in the week
Week 4: Weekly Meal where focus is praying the scriptures (Lectio Divina) + having a fun space on weekend to include others outside community or simply encouraging people to have friends, family, or someone over from shared mission over for dinner.