I have a book that I’m telling you that YOU HAVE TO READ. Launching Missional Communities: A Field Guide by Mike Breen and Alex Absalom is required for an community of faith that wants to jump the curve from intuition to movement. Before I brag a bit more of the book, let me explain our context. Context provides meaning.
As best as I can tell, the grassroots energy and momentum within the GCC movement is at an all time high.
We’ve been working together for more than a two years, reeducating ourselves on what it means to BE THE CHURCH, not just GO TO CHURCH.
We’ve been working together for more than a year, reorienting ourselves around a new vision. This open source process has involved thousands of us. The religious gurus didn’t go up on the mountain and come back down with “the vision.” Together, through countless conversations in smaller settings and hundreds of exchanges via email, we been asking, “What is the Spirit of God saying to our church?” God did not develop laryngitis at the end of the first century. The Spirit is still leading, guiding, prompting, and yes, speaking to his people. When we listen together, we increase the chances of clarifying and amplifying what God is actually saying, while diminishing our own personal misperceptions that take us off course. This new vision was birthed as hundreds of us listened to the wild and untamed Spirit of God. What is the Spirit saying?
Together, we are RAISING THE BAR…
BE THE CHURCH
ACTIVATE THE CAMPUS
REPRODUCE AT EVERY LEVEL.
We will launch and equip Granger Community Church start-ups all over the globe. All expressions – micro, mega, multi, rural, suburban, urban, multi-ethnic, local, domestic and international – will be united by the same mission and DNA. We will be a movement of more than 100,000 missional followers of Jesus gathering as 2,000 reproducing churches.
The Greek word for church is ecclesia. This word is used three ways in the New Testament. One use of the word describes a larger gathering of the church within a specific city, like the church in Corinth.
To the church of God in Corinth, to those sanctified in Christ Jesus and called to be holy, …Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. 1 Corinthians 1:2-3 (NIV)
But in the early church, these larger gatherings were actually made up a collective gathering of smaller units. These smaller units were platoons of people who were doing life together, being the church together 7 days a week. The second use of the word ecclesia refers to these missional communities of 20-50 people.
Greet Priscilla and Aquila, my fellow workers in Christ Jesus. They risked their lives for me…Greet also the church that meets at their house. Romans 16:3-5 (NIV)
So the church in Rome wasn’t just a gathering of hundreds of loosely connected people who visited a building for a service once a week. The larger gatherings were made up of coalition of these missional communities. Rodney Stark in The Rise of Christianity, documents the exponential growth of the church from 1000 in 40 AD to over 33,000,000 by 350 AD. How did it happen? He credits this missional communities strategy.
We’ve experienced the same reality in our church planting movement in India over the past ten years. What started as a group of 15 of us has exploded into a movement of more then 950 churches including over 120,000 people. Most of the growth in the movement has happened through “small and reproducing.” In other words, sure we have some larger churches. We have one megachurch in our movement and quite a few churches that number 100-800. But, most of our churches are these reproducing missional communities of 20-50 people. They have been reproducing like rabbits.
So, we’re bringing that reality back home right here in Indiana. We’ve got great training materials to help launch missional communities in India, not it’s time to back-translate it for the western context. I’ve spent the last year searching for the best examples and best training materials I can find from pioneers here in the West. I read 1-2 books a week, so as you can imagine, I’ve been through A LOT OF material.
What I’ve discovered is that there is a ton of material out there on theory, but very little on actual practice. Where’s the best book that really unpacks how to launch a missional community? I found it!!
Launching Missional Communities: A Field Guide is that book. We’ve been strongly encouraging every committed member of GCC to read The Forgotten Ways Handbook by our friend Alan Hirsch. The next book on the list is Launching Missional Communities. I can not recommend it more highly. Our training of missional communities will be strongly influenced by this book as our future unfolds. If you ready to learn how to build a community of people who can BE THE CHURCH, pick this book up immediately. This book walks through the nuts and bolts of launching, growing, multiplying, and making disciples through missional communities.
This is a book by practitioners for practitioners. Mike and Alex have lead a movement through the St Thomas’ Church network in Sheffield, England that has swelled to thousands – with many campuses and different expressions – all built from the grassroots through missional communities. This movement is now one of the largest and fastest growing churches in Europe.
Expect to see more posts from me in the future featuring Mike and Alex’s outstanding resource. You can buy online now or look for it in our bookstore.
Disclaimer: I received this book from the publisher. I was not required to write a positive review. I had to! The book is amazing. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”