This is part of a series of posts on what a missional community is – check out the others and let me know if you have any thoughts or questions.
Yesterday I wrote about how I respond when asked how “mature Christians” can be fed in a Community Group. Today I wanted to share how missional communities have impacted and increased my faith.
(It is ironic that I started blogging again about missional communities and then we had to miss our community group gathering last night for health reasons. Kind of like rain on your wedding day or a free ride when you’ve already paid. Alanis Morissette anyone?!?)
As I thought through it, the growth of my faith falls into a few categories and then I thought I’d provide some additional practicals.
Watching Awe and Delight Causes Awe and Delight
As I’ve reflected on how the communities that I have been in have shaped and expanded my faith, it reminded me that Jesus enjoyed watching faith happen and people express their faith in Him. In the gospels, seeing faith seemed to be the area that caused Him the greatest joy and delight.
A centurion soldier believes Jesus can just speak the words and his servant will be healed, a Canaanite woman humbles herself in belief that Jesus can heal her daughter, men break someone’s roof open to get their paralyzed friend to Jesus and Jesus marveled, was in awe, and enjoyed it.
I am pretty far from being anything like Jesus, but I do see my faith increase, my awe grow, and my delight in Jesus and His gospel expand as I watch people enjoy and believe in God. This has been one of the most amazing things for my faith to see people wrestle with their own beliefs, express delight in God and be amazed at His goodness. I love it.
Faith that Transforms Pushes my Faith
Similarly, I watch those in our missional community talk about how their faith is changing their lives and it reminds me, pushes me, and exhorts me to do the same.
They speak of how they are seeking for their faith in Christ to guide them in caring for their co-workers, praying for their family and friends in need, and even convicting them to stop the bad habits of their lives. There is great power in this vulnerability and it cultivates in me a greater dependence on God.
It also reminds me that faith in Jesus transforms, it doesn’t just educate. Knowledge without obedience cultivates pride, but knowing your lack of obedience and need for Christ cultivates humility. This blesses me tremendously.
Learning from a Diversity of Perspectives
I’ve been in missional communities with people who are wealthy and with the formerly homeless, with families, newlyweds, singles, and divorced. The journey of life creates an experience of God that I would never receive by spending time with people just like me and in my life stage or demographic.
There have been people who have never been to church, some just exploring it, some hating it, and some who have been in church their whole lives. Hearing them express their thoughts on God, dialogue about them with others, and even learn from one another teaches me. In my missional community I’m not just learning the Greek meaning for the word in this text (not that there’s anything wrong with that disclaimer), but I’m watching truth change lives and even change mine.
It makes me a better follower of Christ.
Being under Leadership
I don’t lead our missional community and I haven’t led one in a while. I love it and not merely because I don’t have the responsibility – it’s quite the opposite. I think I have more responsibility in following than in leading. The scriptures call us all to submit to God, but also to submit to one another out of reverence to Christ. Lacking any authority in your life is a dangerous reality and learning to be led by others only makes you a better leader.
My faith grows as I trust God under other people’s leadership and watch them grow and flourish in that leadership. I’m reminded that God the Holy Spirit empowers all of the people of God to participate in the entire mission of God and it makes me extremely thankful to God for this reality. More pastors should enjoy being led in a missional community. It’s good for the soul.
Some Additional Practicals
In addition, I thought I would list some things about my approach or that I also participate in as a part of our missional community that has increased my faith.
- I pray for my Community Group often, especially before we gather and my heart is changed through my consideration of their needs over my own.
- I don’t approach missional community looking to be served or taught, but as a time to pursue and explore God with our church family and those new to God. The results are usually that I learn, I’m encouraged, and I’m more joyful afterwards.
- We have served the neighborhood together and that is a great way to demonstrate faith.
- I engage in a Life Transformation Group with a guy in our Community Group. I’ll write more about LTGs, but it’s a good space to engage the scriptures outside of our community gathering.
- I expect equipping in knowledge and theology to happen outside of Community Group as well. More to come on this.
The Christian faith is so much more than ascent to knowledge; it uniquely affects the heart, mind, soul, and actions. Missional Community has increased, revived, and expanded my faith in tremendous ways. I’m so thankful for my community.
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