Why I wrote “Called Together”
I was raised on the house-church/cell-church movement in Western Europe. I can remember our pastor explaining week after week that we were all “sent-ones” into business, school, homes, and boroughs as messengers of the gospel and participants in the kingdom of God. I observed through my teenage years small communities forming around experiencing and sharing the gospel with others. I remember catching, within those years, the unbelievable power of God’s scattered church. That we are all–regardless of occupation–given the vocation or calling to be God’s witnesses and ambassadors in our cities. That we are, as Eugene Peterson says, “God’s billboard to the world.”
Years later, as team member of a church plant in Portland, I grew to realize our calling is not isolated but communal. We are called together. We are called to grow up in Christ together. We are called to experience the gospel together. We are called to serve the poor together. We are called participate in the mission of God together.
I wrote this guide with my good friend Jonathan Dodson to facilitate the establishing and the renewal of communities. We’ve somehow made following Jesus and obeying his commands and individualistic enterprise where “community” is one discipline that must be checked each week. Instead, what we find in the Bible is the gospel of Jesus creates communities that share life together and life for the sake of their cities. My outlandish prayer is this guide could be part of the reshaping of North American community groups. That the hundreds of thousands of groups in America could grow into everything they were meant to be.
Who I wrote “Called Together” for
I wrote it for Bread&Wine in Portland and City Life Church in Austin. I love these two churches and this guide is the culmination of much of our two histories as we’ve, by the grace of God, started missional communities in the hearts of our cities. Austin and Portland are sister cities with a unique bond and astounding amount of similarities as many in my generation hop between both searching for creative expression, entrepreneurial opportunities, and a full life of recreation, art, music, food, drink, and work. This book is born out of a desire to equip and resources missional community leaders in these two cities and these two churches. But I also wrote it for more than our churches.
I wrote it for leaders of communities. I friends and family scattered across church and leading community groups. Often it’s a struggle as they want their community to be more, but don’t know how. We are a generation that doesn’t want to settle for weekly Bible studies and call it community. We want that, but more. I wanted to craft an accessible resource to help these leaders move toward their calling of leading groups that are not only getting together to learn about God, but getting together to live their calling.
I wrote it for churches and community pastors. I wanted to create a resource that helps pastors and leaders implement their vision of thriving communities. I believe we’ve created a small (affordable) and excellent guide for those who earnestly desire next steps in forming or re-forming their community groups to be centered around the gospel and on mission.
I have the privilege of working with churches in Portland and around North America who desire this. As the pastors embrace missional communities the transferability and resources to implement is difficult. If you didn’t plant your church structured around missional communities it seems almost impossible to get them. Or so it seems. I contributed to this guide as a way of helping gospel-centered churches transition their existing groups into missional communities or pilot new missional communities.
What Will You Find in This Guide?
- Important pre-launch steps for Missional Communities
- A weekly guided discussion for Missional Communities to walk through
- Missional Community Commitment template and examples
- Missional Community Leader role description and leadership development plan template
How Can You Use This Guide?
- Take it and work through it in your own community group.
- Read through it and then think of the folks who you could invite into becoming a missional community.
- Work through this guide as a staff and/or elder team.
- Give this guide to a few leaders hungry to do more with their groups.
- Use this guide as part of your strategy to re-launch your communities as missional communities.