The second “C” of the Missional Sweet Spot is the congregation.
It’s our connection to the larger work that God is doing.
For some within the Missional conversation, there seems to be this notion that a larger gathering or ‘corporate’ worship is somehow irrelevant or relegated to a previous area.
I don’t think that could be any further from the truth.
I once met with a family that seemed to be under this notion. They had read a few books on Missional living from a well known author and decided that a Sunday gathering time was irrelevant. They sold their house, moved to a new (and more impoverished) area of town and just started to ‘live missionally’ where they were at. Their actions were some what commendable. They gave up their rather comfortable lives for a different experience and really had a heart for the poor, hurting, and broken.
I was excited to hear what they were doing and asked how I and the church could help them in this mission. The pairing seemed somewhat natural for me: we lived in close proximity in both geographical and missional contexts. They could have served as an example to our congregation of how to practice missional living, and we could have served as an encouragement and prayer group for them.
With pain in their voice, they offered what they wanted to believe was a real answer: “Oh, nothing. We’ve had some struggles but we’ll get it figured out.” You could hear that something was missing for them. They desperately wanted to be missional and disciple others and were unable to acknowledge the pain, frustration, and isolation that they experienced. If they would work just a little bit harder, a little bit longer, and read a few more books, they could finally figure out the magic formula and experience a breakthrough.
Sadly, I think what they were missing was right in front of them: a gathering of believers to worship, confess, pray, and rejoice with. People that could help share the load. Other members of Christ’s body that could support and believe in them.
As we look at how to live in the Missional Sweet Spot, we can take some encouragement from an early church leader who wrote: “And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.”
The frustration of this family, and of many people (a lot of whom still attend church on a regular basis) is the often static nature of the church. The church has, in many places, lost it’s visionary and missionary sending capacity (something that we will look at in the next post). But just because the church struggles or falters, it is not an excuse to abandon her and go solo. Life in the body of Christ, communion with a wider body of saints, is a clear requirement for faithful, missional living.
For you and me to live faithfully to what Christ wants, we must continue to gather, celebrate what God is doing, train new leaders, empower new followers, and release all people to live on mission.