This is a short clip from a 3dm work shop I attended. If you want to explore this expression of church I highly recommend Launching Missional Communities by Mike Breen & Alex Absalom.
For the past nine months Desire and I have loved being a part of a house church. We have loved meeting weekly with 8-10 people to participate in what it means to be church. We believe any group of people who live out DNA together are “church”.
DNA is …..
Divine Truth: Journeying through God’s word together. This is not just limited to bible study but also includes all forms of worship.
Nurturing Relationships: Living in Grace filled community.
Apostolic Mission: Loving your neighborhood in tangible ways with the same passion as the Apostles and the early church.
We have found that a group of 8-10 people creates a great environment for Divine Truth and Nurturing Relationships. What often is often lacking is Apostolic Mission. With 8-10 people you have limited physical & emotional resources for your home to effectively engage a neighborhood / people group for the long haul. In answer to this dilemma and new innovative idea is being practiced all over the world. This seemingly new concept is rather ancient and is called Missional Communities.
A Missional Community (also called Clusters, Mid-Sized Communities, Mission Shaped Communities, MSCs) is a group of anything from 20 to 50 or more people who are united, through Christian community, around a common service and witness to a particular neighborhood or network of relationships. With a strong value on life together, the group has the expressed intention of seeing those they impact choose to start following Jesus, through this more flexible and locally incarnated expression of the church. The result will often be that the group will grow and ultimately multiply into further Missional Communities. Missional Communities are most often networked within a larger church community (often with many other Missional Communities). These mid-sized communities, led by laity, are “lightweight and low maintenance”.
Here is the experiment….
Our hope, dream, & vision is for our current Paseo home to become a network of 3-5 Paseo united to show the love of Christ to Northeast El Paso through a common mission.
“How are you going to do this Nate?” I’m glad you asked.
This month we are exploring a new format for our Paseo home community. Our Paseo home currently meets every Thursday night at our house.
Week 1 (last night) will be a normal meeting at our house that consists of hanging out, eating food, laughing, praying, and exploring God’s word.
Week 2 will be more of the same.
Week 3 will be a guys/girls night out where we just hang out and have fun. One week the girls will hang at the house while the boys go out and the next week we will trade. I am hoping that week 3 will give everyone a desire to pursue discipleship relationships that we call 2’s &3’s (this is where you meet with one or two Christians of the same sex to pray, discuss Scripture, confess sins, & pray for the lost.)
Week 4 will be a Missional OUT. This is where our group shows the love of Christ tangibly to Northeast El Paso. Our current mission is Teen Challenge a residential program that helps men and women struggling with substance abuse. Our goal is to show the love of Christ to both the staff and residents of Teen Challenge on a monthly basis. In addition to Teen Challenge our group also has connections to missionaries in the Philippines. This will allow our group the opportunity to unite around the mission of Christ both locally and globally.
As we explore this new format during the month of July our two apprentice leaders are taking more and more responsibility in leading the group (I love how the group doesn’t need us anymore!). Starting in the month of August our Paseo home will meet without Desiree and I on Week 1 & 2. This will allow us to make more connections and to start a second Paseo home. We will still meet with our Paseo home on Weeks 3 & 4. As we form a new Paseo home, the two homes will be separate on Weeks 1 & 2 but will come together on Weeks 3 & 4. My hope is to repeat this process several times with he end result of 3-5 Paseo homes in Northeast El Paso united in the mission of Christ.
I am pumped!
Hey Paseo Home leaders,
As you know it’s our goal for every Paseo home to hit the three areas that make a group of people a church:
Divine Truth: You encounter the one true God together.
Nurturing Relationships: You live life together in grace filled community.
Apostolic Mission: You seek to love your neighborhood with the same passion as the early church.
Today I would like to give you some help in the area of Divine Truth. One aspect of Divine Truth is encountering God in his word. Below you will see our current sermon series for the Sunday Gathering. We have titled this series 29. For the rest of the summer we are looking at how the story of the early church is really our story. We are the twenty ninth chapter of Acts! If you are a leader who is struggling with what to discuss in your Paseo homes I hope this will help. Your home can discuss the text before Greg & I preach it on Sunday or maybe your group would like to discuss it the following week after the sermon. This is completely optional, so you don’t have to use it. I just wanted to through it out there.
Acts Chapter 9
Acts Chapter 10
Acts Chapter 15
The Riot in Ephesus
If your group is struggling with the area of Divine Truth I would also like to remind you about the principles from the Tangible Kingdom. Pick a small section of scripture (a single idea, story, or concept) and ask the following questions…
What don’t you like about the passage?
What do you like about the passage?
What is confusing or hard to understand about this passage?
What does this passage say about the nature of God?
No matter where you are at on your spiritual journey, how can you apply this passage today?
I hope this helps,
The following is a quote from Dietrich Bonhoeffer. I think it has something prophetic to say to consumer Christians who are always on the hunt for the perfect church experience. I think it also has something to say to church planters and wannabe church planters (like myself) that are seeking to build new communities.
“Innumerable times a whole Christian community has broken down because it had sprung from a wish dream. The serious Christian, set down for the first time in a Christian community is likely to bring with him a very definite idea of what Christian life together should be and to try to realize it. But God’s grace speedily shatters such dreams. Just as surely as God desires to lead us to a knowledge of genuine Christian fellowship, so surely must we be overwhelmed by a great disillusionment with others, with Christians in general, and, if we are fortunate, with ourselves.
He who loves his dream of a community more than the Christian community itself becomes a destroyer of the latter, even though his personal intentions may be ever so honest and earnest and sacrificial.
God hates visionary dreaming; it makes the dreamer proud and pretentious. The man who fashions a visionary ideal of community demands that it be realizes by God, by others, and by himself. He enters the community of Christians with his demands, sets up his own law, and judges the brethren and God Himself accordingly. He stands adamant, a living reproach to all others in the circle of brethren. He acts as if he is the creator of the Christian community, as if his dream binds men together. When things do not go his way, he calls the effort a failure. When his ideal picture is destroyed, he sees the community going to smash. So he becomes, first an accuser of his brethren, then an accuser of God, and finally the despairing accuser of himself.”
Church planting assessment is a three day evaluation of a potential church planting couple. Our assessment took place at New Life Christian Church in Odessa, TX from June 1st – 3rd. Desiree and I were evaluated along with three other couples by the staff of Christian Church Starters (a church planting organization out of New Mexico), the staff of Nexus (a church planting organization out of Dallas), the staff of New Life, veteran planters, and the head of counseling for Dallas Christian College.
Our dream is to plant a network of missional communities. The goal is to move to Las Cruces with a team of 8-10 people (we call this a huddle) and live in one particular neighborhood. As we live in this neighborhood we will show the Gospel of Jesus to this neighborhood through tangible acts of love that fit the needs and culture of that neighborhood. As our community grows we hope to have 3-4 house churches (composed of 8-10 people) that gather together to form a larger missional community (25-50 people untied to show the love of Christ to a particular part of town or group of people). When we reach this point, three leaders from our original huddle will launch their own huddles with the goal of starting three new missional communities in different parts of town. In the end we hope to start a movement of small communities living on mission that gather together for a monthly or bi-monthly Sunday worship celebration.
The Results of Assessment: We blew them away!
Nate: They were impressed with my level of passion for people and our vision of what Church could be. They felt that my personality fits well with our vision since I am highly relational and love to work in a team setting. They were also impressed with my ability to raise my own salary for the past nine moths even though I have had no formal fundraising training.
Desiree: The Counselor told Desiree that he had never seen a woman score higher in leadership potential (we both had to take several personality tests). The entire assessment team agreed that Desiree had huge leadership potential that she has not tapped yet.
As a Couple: They said that together as a team we were one of the strongest couples they had assessed. As individuals they would have misgivings about us planting but as a married couple, we are a great team. They told us that in order to move forward in planting, Desiree and I need to be equal partners in this endeavor.
The homework: They have encouraged us to stay in El Paso at Paseo Christian Church for another year and work on three things…
1). Attend formal fundraising training.
2). Start working more as a team (we already do this, but they want us to develop this more).
3). Work on developing leaders. An L1 leader is someone who does everything themselves, L2 is someone who raises up people to come along side them, and an L3 leader is someone who trains new leaders and releases them. Right now we are L2 leaders, but for our model to work, we need to be L3 leaders. We need to develop the skills to train people and release them.
The Future: CCS & Nexus want to figure out a new missional model of church planting. They feel we are people who they can work with as they explore the future of church. They want us to start forming missional communities in El Paso right now. If after a year we still want to plant in Las Cruces they will be behind it, but they are encouraging us to expand our vision. They see El Paso and our ministry as a potential training/sending center to release people to plant missional communities all over the Southwest.
I had the privilege of spending eight days in Ecuador installing water filters. We flew into Quaquil, the economic capital of Ecuador, boasting a population of 5-6 million people. We spent most of our time in El Recreo, which is a town of 50,000 people just outside Quaquil. The people of El Recreo live in simple houses constructed with concrete blocks that are stacked on top of each other three to four stories high. They have tap water, but it is untreated. Two of our team mates (both civil engineers) discovered that the government of Ecuador uses huge pumps to suck water up from the ground and is then put into the system without being treated. Because of this the people of El Recreo depend on purified water purchased from the store, but it is not really purified. Sometimes the water they buy is yellow, and one person told me he found a severed finger in the water.
Just outside El Recreo is “The Invasion” which is a swamp inhabited by people who are unable to purchase a house in El Recreo. Most of the houses are of bamboo construction and are built on stilts since the area often floods. The people of the invasion depend on the “purified” water since there is little infrastructure. We were able to bring 100 simple water filters and instal them for 100 different families. These filters are simple, last a life time, and filter 99% of all bacteria. (For more information visit givecleanwater.org) I have been on many missions trips, but this trip blew me away. Each demonstration and installation took only 20 minutes, and in that short time, I saw a family’s life change.
I was installing a water filter at the house of an older woman. After the demonstration we asked her if we could pray for her and her family. She told us the story of her five-month-old grandchild. One day the baby was fine and the next day the baby was stricken with dysentery and wasting away. The baby was at the hospital at the time. The people of Ecuador are surrounded by constant illness. If there is one thing they should be able to trust, it’s their water. They should be able to take a drink of water and know that it will help them and not hurt them. One hundred families can now trust their water.
I want to be carful to not give the wrong impression. We were not a group of optimistic gringos swooping in to save the day. Every step of the way we were working in partnership with a local church. This church was planted by a minister from Chile named Marcello. Marcello started by building a children’s ministry 10 years ago, and now those children are grown leaders of the church. They are looking for ways to engage their community through tangible acts of love. This church seeks to love its community free of charge and with no strings attached because this church loves Jesus. It was humbling to see these brothers and sisters naturally living out a form of Christianity that is so difficult for us in America to achieve. What we wish for and write books about, they live.