"I've never been to your church, but I love your church." This was what COMMUNITY Campus Pastor Shawn Williams heard while getting his hair cut. The conversation started when the women cutting his hair asked Shawn what he did for a living. He said, "I'm a pastor at the Yellow Box." As soon as he said that she responded, "My neighbors are a part of that church. In fact, I've recently gone through a divorce and it's been really tough being a single mom. But my neighbors who go to your church have been a big help getting me through it. They've assisted me with carpooling; they've brought me meals and they've even helped me with small home improvement projects." Then she looked at Shawn and said, "I've never been to your church, but I love your church." I don't know your definition of a missional church, but stories like that tell me a church is doing it!
Many people wearing the badge of missional experts have said that missional and mega are incompatible; a church like COMMUNITY can't grow to be a large church AND exist for something outside of itself. Unfortunately, many times they have been exactly right. But for the last 24 months COMMUNITY has been in a transition to fulfill the dream of mobilizing every person in our large and growing church for mission. Last April myself and Alan Hirsch published our plan for transitioning a church for missional engagement in our book, On The Verge. The On The Verge transition lays out the following three moves for a church who wants to become missional:
- "See It" - This is the phase where you capture the imagination of people through story-telling and teaching. During this move people have the "ah-hah" and begin to see the mission of Jesus for the very first time.
- "Get It" - This is the phase where people begin to understand and feel passionate about the mission. They begin to truly understand that our God is the missio Dei and as his people we too have a mission. They also begin to feel a passion for the mission and it becomes this compelling cause for which they want to give thier lives.
- "Do It" - This is the phase where people begin to implement what they have seen and now understand into the flow of their everyday lives. They eventually move to the place of becoming unconsciously competent about mission. Simply put, they do it!
After 24 months of working through these three moves at COMMUNITY and gaining missional momentum we had a breakthrough last weekend. We asked all our small groups to work through a 6-week process of determining their mission. Some of the groups would be "1-mission groups" and others would be "Multiple mission groups." Last weekend we had about 1400 students and adults and 140 small groups stand on our stages and say out loud their mission, be annointed, prayed for and commissioned by the leadership of our church. The pic to your right is just one of our celebration services where groups filled the stage and made a public commitment to the mission of Jesus. More than 70% of our people are in small groups and 73% of our groups participated in the commissioning service this weekend. To you that might be a lot of numbers, but to me it is a sign that a very large church is clearly mobilizing large numbers of people for difference-making mission.
No, we are not done! Far from it. We have a long way to go. We have to sustain the missional momentum that we are now experiencing. But one thing I am increasingly convinced of is this: the large church can be used as a platform for energizing and mobilizing large numbers of people for missional engagement. In my own opionion, mega AND mission - it can be done!