Get in the game! I played softball for many years. I played first base. I’m convinced it was because my long legs could stretch to catch wild throws. I also had three brothers, so I grew up playing baseball with my brothers in the back yard. Regardless of how I learned to catch, throw, or hit the ball; it was useless if I did not get in the game. Imagine a coach’s shock if I had walked off the field only to see a ball hit to third base and thrown to first with no one there to get the final out of the game. I doubt I would have played first base on my team anymore if I just chose to jump in and out of the game when I felt like it—or maybe not at all. There are no spectators in missional small communities. They are just that –communities in which all participate in the mission—the mission of God. No one is a spectator.
Ed Stetzer often speaks of the need for classes and groups to move people out of rows (as passive spectators), into circles (as active participants), and out into the world (living on mission). Ed is talking about missional small communities that see people transformed who, in turn, transform communities down the street and around the world.
What can a missional small community deliver?
- Deeper friendships
- Accountable relationships
- Environments for spiritual growth
- Missional opportunities
What elements might one regularly see in small missional communities?
- Mission orientation
- Word-driven mentality
- Multiplication mindset
- Kingdom focused
What are some obstacles facing missional small communities?
- Value transference of information more than life transformation
- Value teaching more than learning.
- Reflection of past practices or traditions
- Segmentation of the mission of God.
- Lack of intimacy
Any of these obstacles can prevent a class or group from becoming a small missional community. However, the segmentation of the mission of God may be the hardest to detect, yet I think it may be the most dangerous. Listen to class or group leaders. You will often hear a frustration over not having time to “finish the lesson” or my job is to teach the class. Without realizing it, leaders thinking can gradually sway toward a mission centered on getting through the Bible study. Every expression of the church owns the mission of God.
Does your class or group own the mission of God? What 2-3 things can you focus on during the coming year to help move you and your class or group toward becoming a small missional community?
Where are you now? Have you stepped out of the game to rest for a while? Have you lost sight of why you are playing? Are you more focused on what you want and what you need? If so, it is never too late to get back in the game. Get in the game!
Click here to hear one Sunday School teacher’s story of how focusing on the mission of God led his class to a sports camp in North Dakota this summer.
Transformational Class: Transformational Church Goes to Sunday School by David Francis
Chapter 8 (pages 173-198) of Transformational Church: Creating a New Scorecard for Congregations by Ed Stetzer and Thom S. Rainer.
Belinda Jolley serves as the Director of the Adult Ministry Office of the South Carolina Baptist Convention. Belinda and her husband, Steve, enjoy starting new classes at First Baptist Church in Rock Hill, South Carolina.