Every missional community has three essential ingredients: qualified and called leaders, a clear mission, and a committed core. Praying for and gaining clarity on these three things is where every leader must begin. While everything might not be perfectly clear before you begin (it never is), you will want to have a an initial plan of action.

Here are just a few diagnostic questions to ask as you launch your missional community. If you’re a coach, this is the stuff to think through with a new batch of leaders who are called and qualified to lead. These discussions on the front end help create a discipleship environment that is focused on the gospel and a community operating in its gifts.

A Shared Leadership Team

Who are the missional co-leaders?

Who are the shepherding co-leaders?

Who will host?

Who will coordinate meals?

A Common Mission

I’ve discussed this crucial element in a previous post as well. A common mission is your community’s unified effort to love—through word and deed—a specific group of people (neighborhood, network, or people group).

What is the common mission you will invite others join you in?

How will your community begin to learn, engage, and share this mission?

What is your community’s first “baby” step toward mission together?

A Committed Core

Pray for the people God will bring into your community. Pray for people to come alongside you and help. Pray for God to bring names to mind. Think through the specific people in your life you want to join your new missional community. They’ll need to live or work fairly close to you since it’s hard to commute to community. You aren’t looking for “all-stars” or elite Christians—they don’t exist. Pray for people who will commit to the process of becoming a community. Pray for teachable, humble, and honest people. Pray for people that believe in Jesus!

Before you begin sending invitations and making phone calls, be able to put your hopes and prayers for this new community into words. You need to know why.

What is a missional community? Why start one? Why this mission?

What do you hope this will look like in your city and town? 

What are you asking people to commit to? As you invite people, give them a picture of gospel-shaped community alive in God’s mission. As you describe what you are prayerfully starting, avoid making your invitation tailor-made to each person, where you sacrifice your convictions. For example, you really want your friends who are struggling in marriage to join, so you tell them it will be a group that fixes marriages. Invite people into a community that isn’t centered on their needs, hobbies, or passions but the gospel of Jesus and his mission.

TIP: Set a Date and Get Started

You have a vision, a name, and a team. The logistics are working out. Now it’s time to set a date for your gatherings and get started. Oddly, this can be one of the more challenging steps in the process. You have to overcome the inertia of fear, anxiety, and spiritual warfare to set a launch day.

TIP: Give Your Missional Community a Name

It doesn’t have to be creative like a garage band, or spiritual, or from the Bible. However, your missional community needs a name or the default will be “Your Leader’s Name Missional Community.” This unfortunately reinforces the idea that the community belongs to the leader, that it’s their thing, and not our priority.

Instead, set the tone from the very beginning by naming community together so it’s everyone’s community. To be sure, leadership is important and requires an increased level of responsibility, planning, and vision, but healthy communities are ones that get described as “our missional community.” Some easy options are naming it after the neighborhood, sub-division, or even the street that will be the focal point for your missional community.

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.