I read an interesting post at Ken Rains’ blog today where he quotes Gordon Cosby as saying that he has never seen a group go from community to mission. Instead, we should organize around mission and community will happen. During a conversation about the nature and mission of the church awhile ago, someone said to me "Well, church is basically just a bunch of people hanging out, right?"
No! It most certainly is NOT "just hanging out." I think that’s a big temptation for those who have been starved for community by traditionalism or hype. They’re longing for community so much they see it as the one and only goal of the church: to chill.
If Gordon Cosby is right, when starting a new church plant somewhere, the core group cannot begin by saying "we’re just going to hang out and see what happens." The core group needs to covenant together to bring the light of the gospel of Jesus Christ to the group they’re trying to reach. They’re methods for doing so might look a lot like "hanging out" in the first phase of the operation, but the members of the core group know they’re on a mission, and community naturally springs from being involved in mission, and being involved in mission makes community richer.
I read a book awhile ago called Better Off, chronicling the adventures of a newly married couple who join an Amish-like community for a year to see what it’s really like to live without all the modern conveniences of technology. One of the surprises in store for the author was that a large percentage of the "community" (read "hanging out") happened during work. There was a camraderie, a natural connection made as people worked side by side.
So as we imagine what it might look like to lead an established church into the wild tribalistic post-everything future, perhaps it will look a lot like small communities of people, covenanting together to infiltrate and impact a "people group" with the good news of the kingdom of God in Christ Jesus.
But how to inspire and teach and fan those gifts into flame? Aye, there’s the rub. Holy Spirit, awaken us!