So, I'm trying to bring some conclusions to my thoughts on this whole thing although someone once said "A conclusion is what happens when you get tired of thinking"
In my mind I have a picture of missional community, so what I write below is what I am living for and exploring at this present time, once you put something down on paper it can seem like you have a fixed opinion, what I am writing about is my discovery and exploration of community so far!
A community has to be relational, it has to relate well to other expressions of church "if you knock the bride you're going to have to deal with the husband"cynical, critical undercurrents are not good for any community, large or small. It has to relate well to the world, culture, sociological, geographical area in which it is birthed; if it is not engaged with the world beyond it's walls it will fail. The community has to relate well to each other, smaller communities are a tougher place to be because you can't be invisible, more tension, more challenges but more depth. The community has to relate well to God; a healthy holistic balanced understanding of our Maker, His Son and the Spirit that guides us. A good relationship with God sounds obvious but needs work. Boiled down at it's core a relational community should be one that is: under-girded with love.
We should not fear leadership, that is excercising it or being definite with it. Leaders in communities should consider themselves as gardeners rather than CEO's. Leadership should be plural and inclusive although I am happy with one person standing uo and taking overall responsibility. Leadership teams should find the heart of God together rather than just trying to implement one persons vison. Paul says WE have the mind of Christ, note the plural! Leadership should be humble enough to accept advice, direction, correction and challenge from servant hearted apostles but also from the community they are leading.
You've got to have an idea of where you are headed. I'm not a great one for short term, medium term and long term goals. I don't really like the phrase "purpose driven" however in shying away from some of the more business minded models we have to be careful that we don't throw the baby out with the bath water. A picture needs to be painted, a direction needs to be set. The power of vision lies in our ability to imagine an alternative reality, I am living for an alternative reality, we have vision here and believe me it helps.
Arthur Wallis once said something like "revival is born out of prayer, sustained by prayer and brings forth prayer" or better still the bible says "Pray without ceasing" I am convinced this is the key underlying factor to growing communities. Fast more than you do right now (I'm speaking to myself here).
Open, welcoming food orientated communities feel good to me. I believe in the power of the circle. Hospitality is not just about sharing food it is about sharing lives. Give clothes away, buy gifts for people in your world, have parties and barbeques as much as you can. Burn certain chunks of your diary and give yourself more time to be proactive rather than reactive. We have been living in a cash rich and time poor society, make more time. This is not the season to add more to your life rather it is the season of pruning back.
Without a commitment to life long learning we will only ever stay as baby communities. A commitment to discipleship and growth are a necessity. Read together, listen to pod casts together, have accountability groups, do a bible study. Whatever works but remember to stretch and challenge your behaviour as well as your mind. Be disciplined both privately and corporately.
If it goes well give the glory to God, if it goes badly still give Him glory. We can't make anything happen we just have to be obedient. Worship as a lifestyle is such a pat phrase but if we truly understood that phrase our communities would be richer for it. I worship Him by wiping puke of a drunk! I also like singing........ Break bread often. Live thankful lives in fact "in all things give thanks."
Whatever it takes: feed the poor, sponsor a child, don't shop at Tescos, lobby an MP, start a facebook group, whatever it takes be just. Watch the planet be good stewards. Be just with your money and allow generosity to permeate your community, give, give and keep giving.
I haven't said missional because if this is all done around the principle of "We do this for those who do not yet know you" it will work, we will be missional to the core.
That will do for now......