27 February 2011

Book Review #1: Launching Missional Communities

About 3 weeks ago I stumbled upon a resource that couldn’t have dropped out of the sky at a better time. In our church plant in Syracuse we have been forging a new model of church in the heart of the city. Our growing launch team has been training under the radar for the last few months, diligently deconstructing and then reassembling a fresh biblical take on the Story of God. I’ve been committed to this tedious, sometimes painful and sometimes awkward process. I’ve felt for a long time the epic truths about why God launched the “human project” on this earth, how we participate in it daily and where everything is going is lost on most people who call themselves Christians. This overarching narrative should dominate our church life and conversations as followers of Jesus. Instead, for most Christians being a Christian is about avoiding sin, doing your quiet time, raising safe Christians kids and serving the programs of the church; which somehow all adds up to glorifying God. At Axiom we challenge that quite a bit.

A piece of reassembling what God is about and has always been about is seeing the thread of community throughout the scriptures. God is communal. He has passionately pursued sharing with His "human project" the implementation of His great hopes for this world. He has consistently elected gatherings of people to partner with Him in the mission or renewal, justice, order and rescue. He called Israel and now the Church to partner with Him to spread His shalom and holy love in His world. Community is at the center of the effectiveness of this mission. Community is a failure if the end result is our personal friendship needs being met. Supernatural Community is about joining God together in being Priest’s in this world.

So the practical question is how do the people of God; work together, play together, eat together, share life together, do justice together, digest His Word together, love their neighbors, welcome the stranger together for the sake of building for the Kingdom of God? I personally do not thank the traditional model of church wrestles with that question well. At Axiom Church we have been ardent about grinding out a model of doing church that creates space for authentic missional community. We are not content in owning the cliche of saying we have community because we have a few small groups and a place to serve n the church.

As we’ve been swimming in this divine experiment of figuring out what church looks like with a communal ethos at the core, its been hard to find tried and tested resources. I’ve read a truck-load of theory books on community over the years but could not find authors who were working communal driven models out in real-time. That was until I bumped into a book from two U.K. guys called "Launching Missional Communities: A Field Guide" by Mike Breen and Alex Absalom. This book is straight up, undiluted practice on how to frame church around missionality and community. Over the next few weeks I’m going to blog/review my way through it. So far this book has been packed full of treasures. I’ve already been marking up my copy so much it looks like I’ve lost my mind. Church planters like me who are fending off traditional launch plans packed with dollars, buildings, and numbers crave content like “Launching Missional Communities”. Check back as I tear through this puppy and see what goodies are translatable to 'Cuse.

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