On the 1st June 2011, Jo and I moved into a new neighbourhood. We believed that God had significantly altered the foundational blocks in our lives and that He had done this to lead us into a new situation and a new way of living. The new way of living that He had chosen for us was nothing other than the life He had chosen for His original disciples and every disciple since. The new way of life was to move into a neighbourhood, to enter the spaces that other people in the community inhabited and to develop relationships, build friendships and to share who we are and what we have with those who live closest to us. It is now November 2011, the sixth month of this new way of living. We are still thoroughly committed to building a community of faith in our street, we are beginning to understand the time this takes, and we are beginning to understand the steps that are necessary in order to truly change the conversation about God, where we live.
The missional question that we are grappling with is this: “Can an entire street be won for Christ?” The street that we live on has less than 30 houses, this roughly equates to between 80 and 90 people living on our street alone. There are many towns and villages in Britain today where churches have not been able to reach a regular congregational attendance of 80-90 people. For me that illustrates the challenge; if many churches that are attempting to reach towns and villages with a population of hundreds and thousands are unable to grow beyond the 100 marker, how can we expect to reach 80-90 people in one street alone? The Lord dares us to imagine great things, and dream big dreams and when the Holy Spirit breathes on a community then that entire community can be thoroughly and eternally transformed. Just read Acts 2:1-4. There were 120 people in that upper room in Jerusalem, admittedly they were all waiting for the promise of Jesus Christ to be fulfilled, but when the power of the Holy Spirit flooded through, nobody was able to resist what He was doing in their lives.
We understand that not everyone on our street is either waiting nor wanting to become a Christian, but we are convinced that there is a conversation to be engaged in with each and every resident. And that conversation is an on-going conversation.
Over the next weeks, months and years we will be engaged in the activity of building a missional community of faith right here on our street. We do not know what that community of faith will look like, but we do know that there are certain key biblical guidelines for what it needs to be in character and activity. What really excites me, personally, is that God gives every one of us a unique physical DNA and yet through that DNA it can be proven exactly who we are related to. Every community of faith has a unique spiritual DNA, and yet that spiritual DNA also demonstrates that we are part of a wider global and eternal spiritual family. The missional community that emerges in our neighbourhood will have its very own DNA, its character and activity will, in part, be determined by each and every member. However, though this DNA will mark us out as a unique and special community, it will also be that DNA that connects our community with the larger community of faith throughout the world, time and history. The vital connection is Jesus (the vine), each and every individual and community (the branches) are vitally connected to Jesus, and are ultimately transformed into His likeness because of that vital connection. See John 15.
So as we journey along this path, we will be sharing our reflections, our discoveries, our successes and our failures. This will be as real and truthful as we can be. We truly believe that the breath of God is on this project. And we are looking forward to sharing our small Kingdom building with you because even though you will probably never be part of this community in a physical sense, in Christ, you are part of the same wider community that we belong to.
God Bless & Encourage You.
Next time: Some thoughts on Missional Living taken from Luke 10.