Missional Communities:Geography (location, location, location)

The following is a summary by Dwight Bernier that explains some of the reasons why we’ll begin organizing our Missional Communities by where we all live.

When I was in fifth grade, my science teacher tried to convey to us what dictates the value of a home. I hope that he wasn’t stunned when none of us could come up with the answer. He then gave us a hint: “It is three words”. Really helpful. When none of us could pull out the answer he wanted, he told us in almost an annoyed fashion (maybe he didn’t realize we were fifth graders and still picked our noses more than he drank coffee), “Location, location, location”.

As people who desire to live in community together, we see that a necessary aspect to being community and missional is our location. In making the shift from small groups to missional communities, we want to show why location is a necessary aspect of these groups. This can be done by showing that we must value three things that can often be overlooked.

Time

First, we value time. In Maine, we drive a lot. We drive to work, to the grocery store, to coffee shops, to church service, even to our neighbor’s house much of the time. So why would we want to ask you to travel out of your community to be a part of another community? We love that God has given you time to be with your missional community in your community, which means that you go five minutes down the road some nights as opposed to twenty minutes. That saves time (thirty minutes roundtrip just in the aforementioned example), resources, stress – and puts you in a great place to be able to invite your neighbors, friends within the community, and acquaintances to live life with you for the welfare of the greater community.

Our Neighbors

This naturally leads to the second thing we value, our neighbors. We want them to see the community called the Church living out the gospel. Jesus says that how the Church loves each other will convince people that we are His disciples (John 13.34, 35). Essentially, Jesus is saying that the community, which is the Church, is the hermeneutic for the gospel. People will see Jesus and His love through how we love one another! That is crazy! One would think it would be through some great speech, miracle, sign or wonder. But Jesus says people will see the gospel and know that we are His disciples by how we love one another. Let’s be honest – in most gathered worship services, people don’t get to see how disciples of Jesus love one another. But as your neighbors see you gathering together with others that love Jesus, they not only get to hear about how Jesus is changing your life, they get to see the gospel lived out. They see broken, jacked-up people like themselves, loving, serving, praying for, gospeling and blessing one another. It’s one thing to see one person who is “different”, but it’s another thing to see a group of people, who are radically different in the way they love one another, seek the welfare of the community, and are continually desiring to invite others into life with them. We are called to live the gospel out in communities with your neighbors. I know that there are probably a lot of questions surrounding this idea of living this out in your community, and I know that we will answer some of those questions this coming week.

God’s Strategy

Thirdly, we value God’s strategic placing of you, His gospel witness, in the community where you dwell. In Jeremiah 29, we see that the people of Israel were sent into exile in Babylon, a place where most were questioning the goodness of God and what His plans were. God told His people, through the prophet Jeremiah, to ‘seek the welfare of the city where I have sent you into exile, and pray to the Lord on its behalf, for in its welfare you will find your welfare’ (7). Maybe, like Israel, you might feel like God has placed you in exile in Casco or Denmark (what is there to do there anyways?). But we believe that God has placed you in a strategic location, where He is calling you to invest, build houses, plant gardens, raise families, love your neighbors, help with the schools, coach teams, and desire the well-being of the community – all because God is working His gospel in us, which can’t help but overflow into our greater communities. God made no mistake in putting you right where you are – so invest there.

There is great news in that God, before He created time (which we want to value and steward), chose to place you where He has for the good of that community, and because as Tim Chester says, “God is about the business of transforming the world to fit the shape of the gospel”.

This fall, missional communities will not be based on friends/comfort/age/stage, but rather where God has placed you to live out the rhythms of life, which He is calling us to do with great gospel intentionality

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