Part 2 of an article on missional communities - click here for part 1
In case you are concerned that this is just an OCC thing, most western church networks and denominations are asking the same sort of questions about church life. As the centrality of church in our national life diminishes, we are being compelled to find a fresh expression of church life that is actually truer to our New Testament roots.
In the Anglican church, for example, a seminal 2004 report called 'Mission-Shaped Church' was a dramatic catalyst for a "new missionary movement" of "fresh expressions of church" to "re-evangelise the UK".
The mission-shaped movement is ongoing. 10 years this graphic was presented at the New Wine Leaders Conference 2013, which puts even more starkly the points we have made in this article:
In chewing over these ideas more deeply, British church leader Mike Breen notes the church thrives when 4 'spaces' are all working well:
- intimate space: where 2-3 trusted friends help shape your life through support and accountability
- personal space: where we are formed and shaped
- social space: extended family - this is the principal vehicle for mission that God has used during the centuries, and the one least represented in Western society, the anchorage for human existence
- public space: where the church expresses its collective identity in wider society
Put more simply, we all thrive in a blend of larger, medium and smaller settings.
And this is not just a UK thing. As one example, this article from an American perspective sets out how missional communities are different from Bible study, support group or social action groups. This article from The Gospel Coalition explores the theme from a more conservative viewpoint.