A missional reading of Scripture calls us to become missional communities. We learn to read Scripture to discover what it means to serve as God’s people on mission. We engage the text to invite persons on the outside to become members of our community as they explore the life of faith. Missional communities exist to empower Christ followers to function fully as God’s people in the world. They, likewise, exist to shape outsiders into insiders. In our recent past, the approach to community was “believe first and then belong.” A missional approach encourages women and men to belong first and then believe.
The more disconnected and interconnected that our world becomes the more vital authentic biblical community becomes. God created humanity for community. God calls God’s people to be part of God’s new humanity: a missional community. This claim is rooted in Creation where God forged humanity to live together in shared dominion for the purposes of fulfilling God’s aims for the world. The consistent biblical witness is that God’s salvific aims remain tied to a people rather than to solitary individuals.
Who is My Community?
The most basic question is this: Who is my community? With whom do I and will I live my life? Do I belong to a group that loves me authentically and where I can use my gifts and talents fully for God’s mission in the world?
What kind of a community are we? Do we exist primarily to equip, send, and go into the world on mission, or are we a community that exists for some other purpose? If mission is not central to the perceived and lived-out DNA of the community, then it is not a missional community.
Barriers to Community
We must reflect critically on any barriers intentional or unintentional that block others from access to our community. What does a person have to become as a precondition to hearing the Gospel from us? How open are the various components of our community to newcomers? How easy is it for an outsider/seeker to become an insider/follower? Are we so mono-cultural as to be impermeable to persons of different ages, political views, styles of dress, ethnicity, socio-economic status, or any of the elements that fracture the wider human community? Are we in the world enough to be a visible presence or is the chief barrier the fact that we meet primarily inside of a building separated from the world?
Realigning with God
We must ask: What kind of community do we need to become to embody fully the Scriptural vision of a missional community that reflects God’s character to/for/in the world? As we evaluate our community there must be a willingness to change in favor of becoming more permeable to outsiders for the sake of God’s mission.
© 2015 Brian D. Russell