The Cycle of Life in a Missional CommunityJune 18, 2015
In missional community life, you’ll quickly discover it’s hard to fit in everything you think you are called to do. I’d like to offer you a helpful tool that will help you ease up on yourself and others.
Like most things, there is a cycle to missional community life. Understanding the cycles will help you be present in your current season without getting overwhelmed that you are missing something. To understand the cycle of missional community life, we must understand Jesus pattern of discipleship.
New Testament Scholar, William Lane saw three phases in Jesus’ pattern of discipleship.
•The first phase, we find in Mark 3:13-15. It’s the call to be with Jesus.
•The third phase, is in Mark 6:30-31. Here we see the disciples returning to Jesus, reporting to him all the things they had seen and heard. At this moment they heard the word from Jesus, “Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest” (Mark 6:31). Phase three, therefore, is a rest season.
Understanding that Jesus had a rhythm of life he lived with his disciples will help us understand how to best lead those we are called to do life with. Here’s what these cycles look like practically in MC life.
As Jesus called his disciples to be with him and learn from him, so followers of Jesus need this time. Here is where we get settled in our identity as beloved children of the Father. Here is where we get grounded and prepare for the mission God has sent us on. This phase isn’t study for the sake of study. It’s a phase where we learn in order to be prepared for the mission.
For example, last summer, my MC felt called to serve families at our local elementary school who didn’t have enough food to eat. We thought it would be a great idea to do summer BBQ’s at the school and simply invite them in so we could build relationships and serve as we have been served. To prepare for this, we spent a season studying scripture to see what we could learn about serving the least of these. Then we spent a while discussing some videos from Tim Keller’s book, The Reason for God. We did this to prepare for the second phase.
In scripture when Jesus sent out his disciples, he sent them out to proclaim the good news of the Kingdom through word and deed. Similarly, we went out as a missional community to spend the summer eating, making friendships and speaking of Jesus when the opportunity arose. The point of our preparation was to go and do it. We had an amazing summer and built many new friendships.
After a summer of working out what we had learned, we were tired. We needed to rest. And as Jesus called his disciples to come away to a quite place, we did the same. We went hiking, swimming and had fun in the mountains. We even had some of folks who we’d spent time with from the summer join us. Having them come rest with us was a wonderful way to get to know them better.
In addition to this, we also had simple times of hanging out in the back yard. Because we needed rest, we didn’t even bother making a big meal together. Instead we did a BYOT night (“Bring your own taco”). We threw frisbees, joked around and had fun. Rest means a lot when you’ve been working hard.
The Cycle in other areas
I’ve found this cycle to ring true in my daily life as well. Every day when I rise, I spend time in silence, meditating on what the Spirit would have me know. Then I go out to do it. When the day is over, I rest. I’ve seen it in the business world too. Every good team will spend time together learning, then doing. Last, they should rest and celebrate their accomplishments.
Additionally, this cycle holds true as we are now planting missional communities in Orange County. We are currently in a calling phase. We are gathering folks together to learn and grow in our identity is family, as missionaries, as servants. Then we will discern ways to work these things out, then we will rest. Then the cycle repeats. Of course, it isn’t always this clean because everything overlaps when you are in a life on life setting. But knowing what season you are in enables you to focus on the work at hand.
How might you apply Jesus way of making disciples to your current context? We have to stop viewing our lives as slices of time we have to give away. Instead, look at your life as a cycles (or seasons) you live in with intentionality. I encourage you to live in these cycles with purpose and enjoy living all of your life like it matters, because it does.