Archive for the ‘Community Groups’ Category

From Ben Connelly – talking about the recent Verge conference:

Here’s the point: “missional community” is not a “model” at all. It’s not a church structure. If it is, then it’s just another program, which it was very clear nobody wanted at the conference. If it’s not a model of church, what is it? It’s deeper than that: it’s a lifestyle.

Living as a community on mission is not a weekly event; it’s an everyday activity. It doesn’t start from a pastor preaching it to his church; it starts as individuals start to live it out and others catch on. It doesn’t mean that a church has to “blow up” its small group program; it means that we train our leaders what it looks like to live on everyday mission, and to see disciples being made.


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Jeff Vanderstelt at this year’s Verge conference:

“At Soma we act upon the assumption that every saint is a full-time paid staff member to do the work of ministry. It doesn’t matter whether the check we receive has our church’s name in the upper left hand corner, or Microsoft, Boeing, etc. Wherever the check comes from, it is God’s channel of bringing his resources into your life to enable you to do your full time ministry as God’s sent one.

A critical question we must ask is, ‘Have we structured so that everybody becomes a ‘carrier’ of Jesus and see all of life as the ministry they are called to?’ The most effective carrier of discipleship is not an event. It is doing life together.

No one gets equipped in meetings. We may get informed, motivated, etc., but equipping requires us to be doing, not just hearing. We must live life together in community or we cannot equip each other. How do we know if a man is faithful? (2 Tim. 2:2) We know that only if we are doing life together.

We do not put on a lot of events that extract people from life…instead we equip for life with one another. Unless we call people to focus on mission, they will ultimately become internalized and segregated from the world. We must reorient our whole lives around reaching out to people. Do whatever it takes to be a missionary to a particular people group.

When we started Soma, it was not about a big launch service. We launched people and commissioned them to start their own groups. Each leader has an apprentice. Those who lead small flocks well are those who become entrusted elders of the congregation.”

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Lots of conversations this week about anxiety after last Sunday’s sermon in Matthew 6. Our focus was on the downward drag that anxiety has on our generosity – and many of you are building on that connection and seeing its impact in other areas of your life.

As you wrestle with this area of sin in your life (and I want to encourage you to attack it from that angle and not just blow it off as an innate part of your personality), let me encourage you to do two things:

  1. Make it Known. Confess this to your friends in your community group and fight club. Be specific. And ask for their help in praying for you and pointing you to Jesus.
  2. Get Trained. Use this page of resources from John Piper on Fear and Anxiety. Read and think and write and take steps away from anxiety as you move towards becoming a person whose faith in Jesus becomes more secure.

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In this season of life for our church, we’ve stated that we want to be missionaries living in community empowered by the gospel.

Here’s what keeps you and me from living this way: spiritual sterility that’s fueled by the fact that we breathe in the individualism, consumerism and materialism of our culture. None of us are immune to these challenges and we are predisposed to one or more of these in ways that keep us from relying on Jesus, building life around each other and doing ordinary life out in the world with gospel intentionality.

I’ve caught myself saying something lately that I don’t believe. As I talk about living this way, I am quick to talk about how hard it is – maybe to give me, you, or us an out for not lining up our lives with these values. But at the end of the day, I don’t think that living as missionaries in community empowered by the gospel is that hard…it’s just different.

Now those differences are exacerbated by the fact that they are initiatives that depend on a powerful work of the Spirit to weld us to Jesus as he shows us the depths of the Father’s love for us. But this same Jesus said that the life that follows him is easy…natural…meaningful. So let me toss out a few easy, natural, meaningful ways we can live out these values of gospel, community and mission:


  • Applying the Scriptures together in community groups
  • Gathering for corporate worship
  • Joining a Fight Club to engage in the deep soul work of exposing my sin and sinfulness and trusting Jesus in specific, tangible ways


  • Share friends – find where non-Christians and your interests collide and spend time there to make friends and change their assumptions about Christianity.
  • Share food – work meals with non-Christian friends into the normal rhythm and routine of your life.
  • Sharing life – developing rhythms of spontaneous time instead of relying on programmed events


  • Restoration – as a group, identify and begin to wrestle with real problems around you – where will you express mercy and justice together?
  • Generosity – where is God leading you as a group to use your money to meet kingdom needs – in ways that are both organized and spontaneous?

In their book Tangible Kingdom (the source of some of the ideas above), Hugh Halter and Matt Smay encourage us to ‘imagine the parts of the Kingdom that may open up to you if the same people you love to be with on Saturday night were the same people with whom you dive deep with spiritually. And then, in turn, they connect their friends with you and your friends.’

Could be fun…

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Jeff Vanderstelt is one of the leaders of Soma Communities in Tacoma, Washington – one of the more intentional missional communities I’ve been exposed to. Recently Jeff did some training for church leaders in Phoenix who passed along some of the lessons they learned from Jeff.

Here are a few:

20. Is the church really equipped? Every church would say, ‘Everyone is a minister’. Few actually structure and live that out. Will we do that?

21. People you disciple need to see you living the gospel out in your real life.

22. Every Missional Community sees themselves as the core of a potential church plant.

23. If you teach people the Word but do not train and equip them to obey it, you have not made a disciple.

24.. The power is not in your status or stature, but in your life. Jeff’s church is around a 1000. Not a megachurch by any means. He is 5 foot nothing. And he does not have a great preaching voice. But I’d listen to him all day because he says what is true, and his life backs it up. Did you hear how he told stories from “last week”. And they were names of people on his street? This isn’t “once upon a time I led this random guy to Christ.”

Read the rest here – would love to hear which of these encourage and challenge you.

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…and no, it has nothing to do with childcare.

Mistake #1: Reducing your group to a weekly event.

Mistake #2: Failure to live on mission together.

Solution: Build life and mission around ordinary life lived in community empowered by the gospel.

For more on this, check out this post by Tim Chester.

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From Drew Goodmanson:

Kaleo Church is still learning what it means to be a community of believers gathering throughout the week in homes across the county. We call these groups Missional Communities. Why? Our desire is that we would be gospel-centered communities on mission. As we’ve got a few years into this church plant there are a couple observations:

To Clarify…A Missional Community is not PRIMARILY:
1. A Small Group
2. A Bible Study
3. A Support Group
4. A Social Activist Group
5. A Weekly Meeting

1. Small Groups as Bible Studies are the easiest to form but the most dangerous.
Why are they dangerous? In our early days we did much more class or Bible study gatherings. What we found is that theology “in theory” often leads to knowledge without wisdom. Thinking through the problem of evil and suffering in abstraction is quite different than sitting next to a young couple that lost their baby. Groups should use theology to re-orient people back to God/Truth but in such a way that it is focused on heart transformation and right thinking. Sometimes we call this teaching “theology on mission” since the aim of the theology is directed to specific worldview conversion.

2. Small Groups that deal with Support of one-another inevitably become exclusive and accommodating.
While not as easy as a Bible study, a support group can become the default when people are not on mission. Recently a church decided to move to a neighborhood small group model. Several of the ‘established’ small groups resisted. They provided an apologetic saying that their group had 30-years of deep relationship building that wouldn’t allow others to jump into this deepness they sought. 30 years of not being on mission will lead to exclusiveness and without mission the group will never get beyond itself.

3. Missional groups without a Community Centered on the Gospel can not last.
A missional group will quickly run into circumstances that require it to drink from the grace-renewal well of the gospel. Groups that gather around good causes and can-do attitude will eventually peter out as people become absorbed into something else or lack the motivation to continue.

Mission is a necessity for small groups to avoid #1 & #2 because mission requires gospel-supporting of one another that causes us to stand on the promises and truths in God’s word. Our hope is that our understanding of God’s word is intensified, our support through gospeling of one another is continual and the result is mission that causes us to seek the Kingdom of God first in all we do.

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