Common mission is simple: it’s how your community loves your neighbors in a unified and concerted way. On the other hand, it’s complicated: What are the wise steps of getting there? What are the ‘types’ of missions to chose from? How do we process the realities of shared mission? What questions should we ask to understand the people we’re trying to love?

I recently created this simple handout for our leaders on common mission as a “cheat sheet” on mission. It covers the questions above without all the wordiness. Intended to be a refresher and a clarifier, the cheat sheet could be excellent in coaching conversations with leaders and co-leader meetings focused on mission. Download the PDF

Common Mission Cheat Sheet

Three pursuits of Every Gospel-Centered Community on Mission:

A missional community has three equal and codependent pursuits:

  • Grow in 0ur love for God (Gospel Enjoyment)
  • Grow in our love for one-another (Community)
  • Grow in our love to our neighbors and city (Mission)

3 Types of Mission

A common mission is your community’s unified effort to love—through word and deed—a specific group of people. As you set out to start and lead a missional community, one of the first things you have to think about is: what will our common mission be. Three broad categories for common missions exist: geographic, network, and marginalized.

  • A Neighborhood or Geographic Centric (i.e. your town, subdivision, etc.)
  • A Network or Affinity Group (i.e. artists, musicians, runners, architects)
  • A Marginalized People (i.e. orphans, widows, refugees, captives)

Understanding and Caring About the mission

Here are five sets of questions to help you move forward in discipling others as a community with the gospel.

  • People Questions: Who are the people God is sending us to? Where do they live and hang out? What are their stories? What are their names? What are the avenues to engage and build relationships?
  • Language Questions: What “language” do they speak? Are these people young families, business professionals, working class, etc? Rural folks or City people?
  • Value Questions: What is most important to them? Success, money, relationships, independence, survival, comfort, escape, etc? Who speaks into their worldview?
  • Gospel Questions: What false gospel do they believe in? In other words, what do they hope for? What is the “problem” in their eyes? What is the solution? How is the gospel good news to them? How does it address their values? How is the gospel better than what they value most right now?
  • Needs Questions: What are their needs? How does Jesus meet those needs? How can we be part of meeting their needs in a way that “shows” the gospel?

Know What You Have to Offer

What are the gifts, resources, and passions of the community? Who is in your group? What has God given you as a people—not simply possessions, but talents, abilities, hobbies, etc? What is it that you have to offer these people as a community? Likewise, how will your community begin to rely on and expect relationship from those you are sent to?

Lead Into the What

1. Commit to a new pattern of life. You will have to change the way you live to engage in relational ministry with the marginalized. Things will change. Make simple changes.

2. Create a plan of patiently speaking and demonstrating the gospel. Planning requires putting things on the calendar, and in the budget. Make a plan together that allows you to do be on mission together. If you don’t plan it, it probably won’t happen.

3. Once you’ve planned it, show up. This takes resolve. The planning part of our brain is rational and taps into the deep longings of our souls. The “in the moment decision making part” of our brain taps into our primal desires for comfort and pleasure. Making a plan is huge but overcoming the urge to call it off or “call in sick” is also huge. How will your community be transparent in these urges to call it off or call in sick?

Shepherd Yourselves in the Mission

Once you show up, evaluate how it went as a community. Ask questions like:

  • How did it feel? What fears were brought up by doing this? Who wanted to show up?
  • What was it that got exposed in your own heart as you served? What comforts would have rather had? What “ships do you look to escape on”? What “Tarshish” did you turn to?
  • Also, evaluate the mission: what do we need to grow in to be better missionaries? How do our hearts need to change? What did we learn about their true needs? What was encouraging? Do we need to change our plan and do we need to change our prayers?
  • Finally, what did we learn about Jesus? How did we grow in our love for God, one another, and our city?
Brad A. Watson serves as a pastor of Bread&Wine Communities in Portland, Oregon where he develops, coaches, and trains leaders to form communities that love God and serve the city. Brad is passionate about helping people live lives that reflect their belief and hope in Jesus. He lives in southeast Portland with his wife and their three kids.