The gospel is never contained to a community, but spreads beyond it through its members. Every community that is centered around the gospel of Jesus is on mission. The gospel is too good. It is too big. It is too profoundly what the world waits for. It is too needed for a community to keep the gospel for itself.
I’ve been privileged to be part of Christian community in multiple continents, contents, and languages. I have never been part of a community that is all about Jesus and isn’t on mission. As a community learns the gospel and applies it to its lives, it gets spoken about. As a community loves one another, the world observes. As Jesus transforms us, we are witnesses to it in public, with friends, at work, and in our homes. The gospel makes us, as Paul says, ministers and messengers of reconciliation. God makes his appeal to the world through us! God’s mission of reconciliation goes through gospel community—also known as the Church. You cannot simultaneously understand the gospel and ignore the mission. You cannot amputate the receiving of the gospel from sharing of the gospel.
The gospel sends the church. The result of the church being sent is that we live as a community of disciples—not only devoted to Jesus and to one another—but devoted to our neighbors and city. When we come to Christ, we are all sent on his mission.
Mission is not an option for followers of Jesus, or something reserved for “super-spiritual or radical Christians”; mission is for everybody! The mission of making disciples who make good culture, redeem social ill, and share a whole gospel is the joy and responsibility of every Christian.
A missional community, then, is a group of people who are devoted to Jesus, to one another, and to their neighbors and city! They are disciples of Jesus who are committed to making more disciples of Jesus! Therefore, mission is not merely a monthly trip to feed the homeless or a trip to Africa to serve in an orphanage (although those are great things to do!).
Mission Is Through Our Lives
Mission is something that happens in our everyday lives as we follow Jesus. Mission is not merely an activity; it is our identity! Being missional is actually being yourself–your whole self. The way you struggle with God through sorrows, griefs, and laments is missional. The way you receive promotions, gifts, and celebrations is missional. How you resolve conflict with neighbors, welcome others into your home, tip at dinner. It is in these things that God is making his appeal through you.
Your mission is to make disciples where you live. Whether you work in a high-rise office-building or in your home caring for your small children, you are sent there by God to be his agent of reconciliation. This is how God is making himself known through his people, by sending them out into the world. God actually places more people in your life than you probably realize.
Everyone has neighbors, co-workers, friends, bartenders, yoga instructors, financial advisors, teachers, classmates, fellow PTA members, and a whole slew of family relationships. In other words, God has sent you toward friends who don’t follow Jesus or know the gospel. How do you invite those folks to believe the gospel and become followers of Jesus.
Mission happens in the everyday things of life: backyard grill-outs with the neighbors, lunch breaks with your co-workers, attending concerts, watching films, play dates, and happy hours. The missional church is not about adding activities to an already busy life; rather, it is a matter of being yourself in the everyday with gospel intentionality.
This seemingly happens alone. The community does not physically travel with us through everyday life. For example, when we are at work, at school, and in our homes raising our children. A community can engage in those individual spheres sporadically, but the individual or individual family is the constant and consistent image of God.
Mission is Through Our Community
There is and always has been both an individual and communal aspect to being on Jesus’ mission. As you enter the spheres of life God has thrown at you, go as God’s messenger, go knowing you are part of a community of messengers that will play a role in your seemingly individual mission.
However, you are called to work together and be together on mission, too! Jesus sent his disciples out into villages together. The early church sent teams of people into new areas together.
Consider how your community shares the mission of making disciples. How can your community focus and unity around making disciples? This isn’t an activity but proactive and communal decision to love a specific people.
Remember our definition of a missional community. A missional community is a way to organize the church to gather and send groups of people on a common mission, (i.e. to engage artists in the city, engage a neighborhood, or help the homeless downtown).
A common mission is your community’s unified effort to love—through word&deed—a specific group of people. As you set out to start and lead a missional community, on of the first things you have to think about is: what will our common mission be. There are three broad categories for common missions: geographic, network, and marginalized. Read more on what these common missions are and what might be best for your community. Listen to a recent training I did on the topic of individual and collective mission.