How do we gather?
For most of us, when we think of “church” we think of a meeting or a fairly large, weekly gathering of people. The experience includes music of a certain style and some directive teaching that is most often a monologue delivered by a trained professional. In reality, “church” has evolved into that meeting. It is something we go to and we expect to get something from it, such as encouragement, better understanding, assurance, a good feeling or maybe just a chance to be around other people. Once they establish this large meeting, most churches then endeavor to arrange people into smaller groups for study and possibly a chance to build better relationships. That’s not bad, but we’d like to change that.
Instead of establishing a place or an experience for people to regularly come out of their neighborhoods and attend, we want to plant Church51 into the fabric of the community. To do this, we will turn things upside down a little and start with the smaller, more intimate experience. Our basic structure or building block of the church will be known as missional communities.
Eventually growing into a network of missional communities connecting neighborhoods across Atlanta and coming together regularly for worship and fellowship.
what is a missional community?
A missional community is a group of 10-25 people that focus on three primary objectives:
- To actively pursue relationships inside and outside the MC (missional community). This is more than just catching up with each other once a week. Yes, we are committed to being friends but we want the environment to feel like family. The scriptures tell us that church is not like a family, it is family. And we want the new normal to be that we are inviting others into the family all the time.
- To be intentional about not only our own personal transformation, but the transformation of those around us. We call this “life on life” discipleship or spiritual formation. Being part of a missional community should make it difficult for a person to stay the same, but would rather, continue to become the person they were meant to be.
- To always be asking and acting upon this question - “How can we help to help what is broken in our neighbourhood?” One of our primary core beliefs is that human were created to be generative, not just consumers. A missional community cannot exist for it’s own edification alone, but must look for ways to serve others on our context. We define “neighborhood” by where we live, work, play, go to school or the networks of relationships where we have influence.
A quick evaluation can always be done by asking three questions:
Am I meaningfully connected to other people?
Am I becoming a better person?
Am I, or are we expanding the good in the world?
when do we meet?
An MC would most likely have a regularly scheduled meeting for everyone to come together, but that should not be the only time people are together. Some would also meet for meals, others would meet for special activities like athletic or school events, we would meet to simply have fun and we would meet to serve our community.
For Church51, when we have 3 - 4 healthy missional communities, we will launch a weekly, public worship service, probably on a Sunday. Changing the conversation about church is primarily reflected in this one idea, that church is not a “place we go to” but it is “who we are”. While MC’s could meet anywhere, any time, the weekly worship experience will be an access point for those in our culture that see church as the regular meeting at a certain place. But for us, the church will have already existed with a new normal about who, where and what we are and are becoming.