It’s one of the words that have become in vogue in our church culture lexicon is missional. My auto spell check always changes it to “mission” or “missionary.” My internal conversation goes something like this…”no, no it’s missional, you know missional…to, well, umm” and my mind moves to an outdated term I have long understood…evangelism, but even that doesn’t quit capture the nuance of being missional.
In seeking to understand this better and to make sure I wasn’t missing anything attached to this modern term, I came across an article by Alan Hirsch, the director of The Forge Mission Training Network, called “Defining Missional.” It’s a great read and I love the definition he gave.
“It’s more that just outreach…that leaves it up to the church to go out and get people to move. It applies to the whole life of every believer. We are all missionaries sent out to a non-Christian culture. As the people of a missionary God, we ought to engage the world the same way he does—by going out rather than just reaching out.”
So how do we “go out” rather than “reach out”? For me that means wherever and whenever I “go out” I should be sharing the love of Jesus non-verbally or verbally…applying it to “my whole life as a believer.” Now we are making it personal and public. Interesting!
I have been working to incorporate this into the small groups on our campus and finding it to be a bit of a challenge to move our people from consumer, to server, to invitation giver. Below are three ways to make small groups missional.
#1. We need to build missionality into the natural rhythms of our small groups as well as leadership training.
We do this by serving together in our life group seasons. By training and defining to our small groups leaders what missional living is and why we are all called (Matthew 28:19) to “go” share the Good News, inviting others to church and to be the hands and feet of Jesus. When we do this we deepen our relationship not only with each other but with our God who desires us to love him by loving others. Making this a natural aspect of small groups means that in week one the question is presented…
How can we serve in an engaging way to demonstrate the love of Jesus and invite others to join us at church? What would that look like for you personally?
#2. Next we have to get our small groups out of the home, on to the street, and in the community to have fun! So many times we can get so focused on the curriculum that we don’t look up to see who or what is going on right in front of us.
Lift your heads friends! There is a whole world that needs to know Jesus in a non-threatening environment.
This is what I love about what we call “Activity Groups.” Groups focused around different activities such as cycling, hiking, yoga and much more. The attendees already have a common interest that they love so they organically begin to talk about the topic and their life. As Christ followers, we begin to share our life and can’t help but share how God is a part of our life. It’s the perfect setting for people to ask you questions about your faith as you share with them. Just meeting in a coffee shop, park or an open public setting can create a new energy and excitement on its own. Being together reduces the fear factor tremendously. So get out! Make the invitation. I know it can be scary, but what’s the worst thing that can happen? Yea, they might say no, but then again, they might say Yes!
#3. Tell the stories of the groups that are out there killing it…inviting their friends, family, neighbors and co-workers to church. Nothing takes you as far as a great story. In a study led by psychologist Dr. Raymond Mar, he found that stories help improve people’s social interpersonal skills and behavior in situations that they are unfamiliar with or haven’t experienced yet. Long story short…
“A compelling story with an emotional trigger keeps it real, brings a little more trust, helps us understand others, and be open to new ideas.”
They easily remember the story to apply it to their own life. Finally, increase your comfort level for asking for these stories, re-telling them and getting them on our favorite social media platform. This will help to increase the “normalcy” of getting out of the “classroom” and into the world.
This article originally appeared here.