We’re continuing to post on the vision and values of our church plant.
So far: 1. “Why?” – 2. Our mission – 3. Skeptics and Dreamers – 4. Missionary communities – 5. Journey, Honesty, Community – 6. Participation, Oikos, Simplicity, Wonder – 7. Creativity, Roots, Justice, Truth – 8. 3D Church
Today: the specific kinds of gatherings we envision.
Remembering that we are committed to being a church that is both small enough (everyone is known and contributing in ministry) and big enough (resources are leveraged), and that we are committed to a three-dimensional expression of church, (worshiping God together, being formed as disciples of Jesus together, and engaging in Spirit-empowered mission together), we imagine the following types of gatherings…
JOURNEY GROUPS for SPIRITUAL FORMATION
Journey Groups are made up of 6-12 people who meet specifically to “grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ” (2 Pet 3:18). These will be more than just “hang-out groups,” (but we anticipate that quite a lot of spontaneous “doing life together” will happen in these contexts). The focus of these groups will be placed firmly on the formation of character in the likeness of Christ, and will probably meet in homes.
Journey Groups will be where people are known deeply, where friends share their lives with one another: their stories, their joys and sorrows, their stuff, their money, their faith, their decisions.
MISSIONAL COMMUNITIES for MISSION (duh)
Missional Communities are medium-sized groups consisting of 20-50 people (that could contain several Journey Groups within them) who meet regularly around a mission focus or vision. This mission focus could be:
- a people group (e.g., young professionals, refugees, stay-at-home moms)
- a place (e.g., a neighborhood or school)
- a passion (e.g., soccer, racial reconciliation)
Activities and meetings for these groups would be determined by whatever seems to make sense based on the mission focus. A potential pattern would be gathering twice a month as Missional Communities (to serve, to celebrate, etc) and twice a month as Journey Groups (to explore Scripture, to pray, etc).
Missional Communities will provide an ideal “entry point” for many into the community, because they are larger (and thus less intimidating) than Journey Groups. They provide an ideal place for relationships to be cultivated while connecting to the heart and mission of the church. The Missional Community is also small enough to allow every member to be actively involved in ministry, using his or her gifts to further the mission of the church and the renewing work of God in Fort Wayne.
We also expect a lot of “doing life together” to happen spontaneously in missional communities; people eating in one another’s homes, inviting neighbors and friends over for parties, laughing together, babysitting one another’s kids, etc.
A lot of energy and resource will be directed toward establishing the Missional Communities and helping them thrive. We anticipate these communities will be the heartbeat of the church and the key to helping us become a church that is both “big enough” and “small enough.”
WORSHIP GATHERINGS for CELEBRATION
We will also meet regularly as one church community for worship gatherings, which will serve to build up, encourage, and equip the church to continue its work of transformation and mission by engaging in proven, communal worship practices that form us as missional people.
While there will be room for creativity and variety at these gatherings, we will seek to maintain a loose liturgical structure of:
- Singing together
- Listening to the Story of Scripture together
- Responding to God’s Word together (consecration, repentance, etc)
- Telling stories of what God is doing in our midst
- Praying together
- Celebrating the Lord’s Supper together
- Being sent as God’s people together
We will value simplicity over sizzle, and strive to cultivate an expression of worship that invites participation instead of consumerism, that immerses people in God rather than awes them with our technical brilliance.
We want these gatherings to be meaningful but also sustainable for the long haul. We do not want them to become the “tail wagging the dog,” and will strive to keep simple enough that we have lots of energy left over for missional engagement the other six days of the week.
As the church grows and Missional Communities multiply, there may come a time when it makes sense to plant another congregation with its own worship gathering. In keeping the mission central, we trust we will be able to discern these issues when the time comes. We intend to continue to multiply these kinds of communities in whatever way the Spirit seems to be leading.
We will be seeking to partner with other churches as well, for the purpose of instigating and participating in a movement that sees the Gospel run amok in Fort Wayne and beyond. In essence, what we’re interested in and what we dare to pray for is nothing short of revival, in the technical definition of the term: seeing the spiritually dead coming to life in great numbers. Nothing would delight us more than being able to be part of something like that.
Next post – Our Philosophy of Ministry