Are Missional Communities a Threat to the Local Church?

I found this post linked on Pastor Randy’s blog. I think it is worthy of more conversation, and so, I hope to instigated that here on my blog too.

The Light Breaks Through

lightstock_203698_download_medium_byrene_haney_Missional communities continue to be an instrument by which we can live out what it means to be a missional church in the 21st Century.- Keith Haney

 The new standard for information, Wikipedia, defines “missional communities” this way:

“A Missional community is a group of people, about the size of an extended family, who are united through Christian community around a common service and witness to a particular neighborhood or network of relationships.”

I have to admit that is not a bad definition.  One congregation that has a robust mission community philosophy has the following as their definition and vision.  This plan comes from Christianity Today.

“What is a “missional community”?

 A community of Christ followers, on mission with God in obedience to the Holy Spirit that demonstrates and declares the Gospel of Jesus Christ to a particular people group.

Missional

  • They are committed to having spiritual conversations that…

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4 comments

  1. clashofcashntrash · August 1

    Is the “intentional community” anything like the 501c3? Or is it the church – the true church? I am not sure what it is, so I’m not seeing the threat.

    Like

    • Agent X · August 1

      “Intentional community” as a 501c3?

      I never knew one in those terms, but I suppose there might be. But I have always understood them to be extension(s) of the church. In fact I have always viewed them as the cutting edge of the church – doing what the church should be doing both on behalf of and AS the church.

      As you can imagine, since you read here often, if/when, and where I found one to be a 501c3 group, I would definitely question it in terms similar to this post. Similar. Not the same.

      (Sorry, I take so long responding here. I have baby watch today, and so I am constanty interrupted. )

      There are so many directions my mind runs with this post, and at the VERY LEAST, I am grateful for it because it makes me think about important issues.

      For starts, let me say critical things:

      There is too much definition of “intentional community”. It is not nailed down. That said, I think we get the general idea well enough, but trying to detail it from several angles gets pointlessly technical in my mind.

      Then there is the idea that it might be a “threat”. What possible threat is there against the church founded on the rock, of which the very gates of hell cannot withstand the assault? I mean when you put it in Jesus’s words like that, “threat” sounds almost ridiculous.

      Finally, after watching the video, which was great and explained things really well at some levels, I question why the illustration deals with a guy running a “hobby” shop and leading a model airplane group. What dynamics in that illustration would be effected if instead the hobby guy was reaching out to (or excluding) the poor and homeless and/or ex-cons etc. You know, the sick who need a physician rather than respectable people who just don’t happen to attend a church. Most “intentional communities” I have awareness of aim to reach out to the less fortunate really – they are intentional about inner city or slums or drug addicts etc. Not so much about people who make airplaines. Just sayin’.

      Those are my critical thoughts. Do they destroy the post? Not at all. But I hope they enhance it, because something is wrong, and the post definitely draws out some of the problem. The church should be an “intentional community” instead of some form of social club or dead institution. Why isn’t the picture Luke paints in Acts a good depiction of where I go to church today? Dunno. Smells like a problem to me.

      I hope these “intentional communities” help the church catch that vibe. Otherwise, I really wonder if what we are even is church. Are we the Body of Christ? Do we do anything the Body of Christ does? Do we touch and heal? Do we devote ourselves to loving self-sacrifice or to matching drapes and contemporary worship sound? Do we take the punishment on behalf of the poor, the dispossessed, the sick, and the sinners? Does any of that resonate with the Body of Christ on a cross? Or does it look, sound, and feel like a modern, Western, white-middle-class version of Roman patronage?

      I hate to say it, but I was approached just yesterday by a lady who chronically faces homelessness and recently found a house to live in at a neighboring community about a half hour drive up the road. She contacted me requesting a pickup truck that could help her move. she was willing to buy the gas! I lamented that I got rid of my truck a couple years ago, but I contacted the ONE single guy I know who I thought really might drop what he was doing (within reason) and help with his truck. (It so happens, this guy is poor too.) But I found out he moved to California since the last time we talked. And sadly, I could not think of anyone I know from church who would help.

      Now… I know people at church who drive trucks. I see Lincoln Navigators, Ford F-150’s, Chevy’s and what-not on the parking lot there every Sunday. Someone there drives a Corvette too (not good for moving, but I figure it’s not their only car), and yet I don’t know any of them in the way that I could ask that kind of favor without risking alienating myself for asking.

      The moment I realized this, I became very concerned. I rmember many years ago (I think I posted about this before somewhere) when I belonged to an upper-crust, White-middle-class church in Arizona and found myself inviting a hooker to come to church who talked like she really might take me up on the invitation. As I spoke with her about it, suddenly it came to my mind that she would not REALLY be welcomed there, and I began praying to God to not bring her to my church where she would likely suffer real spiritual damage just by being poor and promiscuous. I made up my mind then not to belong to a church I thought that way about ever again. And while this is a little bit different, it really isn’t that much.

      So, yeah. Something is wrong here. And I think if I belonged to an “intentional community”, we would make a group effort to serve just these kinds of people who have just these kinds of needs. AND we would be doing it INTENTIONALLY as the Body of Christ.

      I have some concern with “intentional communities” on a personal level though. This is entirely anecdotal, I know, but I once tried to join such a group to serve a neighborhood, I had already been serving for years. In fact, my partner, Special Agent D, and I had been serving the 65th Drive area for several years and praying for just such a group to come along. When it did, I made application to join it. I found that I was warmly received by others on the team, but someone not directly associated with this group told the pastor from that church that I do not believe in HELL. So, they called me in to question me about it.

      Of course I do NOT hold the traditional view of Hell. Not to get into it all here now, but Hell is a translation of Gehenna which is a valley outside Jerusalem. Yes, I believe in that valley and the ugly things that happened there to give it an infamous reputation. But, no, I do not believe the loving, creator God torments souls for eternity.

      So, I was cut from the program during the application process over this. Very sad. Very hard to take. Just one more rejection AMONG MANY that I suffer and have suffered. And this not from the Premier Homeless church or any associated programs. (Really makes me think God is orchestrating this kind of thing from behind the scenes – frustrating me for his own purposes, but that too is another story). Anyway, I have not had much use for “intentional communities” since then, and just have made it my practice to address the church at large. Why is the CHURCH not synonymous with this kind of community?

      I don’t know.

      Like

  2. BrookeM · August 2

    I think all of us have some inborn desire to live in a true community. A couple of my friends and I talk about this periodically. Here in America, so many of us live so isolated from each other. I would love to be in a small church community that served together, worshipped and studied together, prayed together, bore each other’s burdens together, encouraged each other, and inspired each other to push further and further outside of our comfort zones together–all in obedience to and for the sake of the gospel. I have yet to witness such a group.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Agent X · August 2

      Me too. Us too. Too true. Me too. Too bad, so sad…

      Your words, my thoughts too.

      Liked by 1 person

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