who has a good reputation with the whole Jewish nation, was divinely directed by a holy angel
to call you to his house and to hear a message from you.” The following day he (Peter) entered Caesarea.
Now Cornelius was expecting them and had called together his relatives and close friends.
Acts 10:22, 24, HCSB
Here is the goal of missions: That a year from now, there would be more people who know Christ as Savior, as a percentage of the population of a specific people group, than right now. Based on that specific goal, we must “develop a contextual process to reach, disciple, congregationalize (gather), mobilize, and reproduce believers among specific ethnic, lifestyle and life-stage groups,” a definition of missional strategy that Curt Watke teaches in his missional training.
Across America and the world, new strategies are springing up almost daily to accomplish this goal. My purpose is not to recommend one or the other, but rather to encourage us to explore the variety of ways God is moving to win people. The establishment of missional communities is one such strategy sweeping our world. Reggie McNeal accurately chronicles these in his book Missional Communities: The Rise of the Post-Congregational Church. McNeal is careful to say that missional communities can exist alongside our congregational churches as an alternative church life form. And both can and must learn from each other. The term “missional community” embraces a wide variety of groups. In general they are groups of between ten and seventy people collaborating together to fulfill a mission strategy. Sometimes, a missional community is formed by smaller cluster groups such as discipleship groups, etc. Members of missional communities worship, study, grow and do missions together in formal and informal ways. 3DM Ministries, founded by Mike Breen, facilitates missional communities to model the three dimensions of Up-In-Out. This is a close correlation to the full circle of worship-discipleship-mission. I highly recommend Launching Missional Communities: A Field Guide by Mike Breen and Alex Absalom for excellent insight into missional communities and how they function. This resource is based on more than 20 years of developing a practical nuts-and-bolts approach to starting highly effective missional communities.
The house church is one prevalent form of missional community. Since New Testament days, the house church has been a powerful seed in church planting. The house church movement is alive and well across the world, moving under the radar of institutional awareness and control. House churches are the engine fueling the rapid growth of Christianity in China, India, Brazil, and many other parts of the world. Lessons from the house church movement—both good and bad—can give excellent insight into leading your worship ministry to become a missional community. You can read more about the house church network at http://housechurch.org/about.html.
Meanwhile, institutional churches are being revitalized by the “mission outpost” strategy. An outpost mission team is called out and trained in the five-fingered-approach specifically to start mission outposts to become new churches under the guidance of the sponsoring church. The mission outpost process is very simple: form and train a mission team, target a people group in your community, place the team at a home or public setting to do missions, form a home discipleship group from contacts made there, and then grow the discipleship group into a house church to reach indigenous people around them.
These strategies and many more are predicated upon finding the “person of peace” and his/her household. In Luke 10:5–7 (NIV), Jesus sent his disciples on mission with this instruction: “When you enter a house, first say, ‘Peace to this house.’ If someone who promotes peace is there, your peace will rest on them; if not, it will return to you. Stay there, eating and drinking whatever they give you, for the worker deserves his wages. Do not move around from house to house.”
God shows us where he is about to visit by the presence of one or more people of peace. In the Scripture above we see Cornelius, the person of peace who reached out to Peter and opened his household. God instructs us to look for a person of peace in a target people group and connect with that person and his/her household. If there is no person of peace there, then we simply move on. God may prepare the most unlikely people to be your “person(s) of peace,” so be open to everyone. Finding and building a relationship with the person(s) of peace is the key to connecting with their households—their relational networks. It is imperative to involve persons of peace in our Missional communities as quickly as possible so they embrace the gospel and join God’s mission. This will equip them to be leaders as our outpost grows into an indigenous church or missional community on its own.
So here is the circle of missional strategy:
1. Churches present local mission events;
2. From those events, mission outposts are established to meet people at their point of need on a regular basis in your community through ongoing mission projects;
3. Persons of peace are discovered from the mission outposts and enlisted to host Bible storying groups in their home or another community setting;
4. As people in the group accept Jesus as Savior, the outposts become indigenous house churches;
5. House churches link together to become a constituted church or missional community;
6. These present local mission events . . . and the missional strategy keeps going full circle.
New Testament churches were basically missional communities worshiping, discipling, and doing missions. They reached out to persons of peace in their own communities and established new missional communities household to household. Using this model, Christianity grew exponentially in three centuries from about 1,000 believers in 40 A.D. to 33.8 million by 350 A.D. Would you agree that the strategy worked? Can the strategy work today?
WORSHIP LEADERS – I am challenging YOU to do ongoing Mission projects in and through your worship ministry, discovering persons of peace in YOUR neighborhoods, then discipling them to establish mission outposts for the sharing of the gospel of our Savior and Lord, Jesus Christ. WHO WILL GO? — Mark Powers
- Watke, “M3 lectures.” South Carolina Baptist Convention, 2012–2013, used with permission.