Over the next couple of weeks we are starting Missional Family Groups at Restoration Church. In missional family groups believers commit to each other to live in family rhythms together and on mission together. A few thoughts on what makes this different than your average small group or Sunday School class?
1) It’s not different in every way. What do healthy families do together? Well at least in part, they pray together and study the bible together. That is what most small group models do too. Nothing different there.
2) Do family stuff together. This may be the different part for people. Missional Family Groups are where believers find ways and plan ways to live in family rhythms together. The word rhythm is essential. It implies regularity and predictability. Beyond Bible study and prayer, what else do families do together? Most share a meal together, at least some times. Some have a game night. Sometimes families have a movie night or go to a game together every week. I have one friend who takes his family to every Duke football home game. For believers to live in authentic biblical community we have to live life together. Missional Family Groups plan to live in these kind of family rhythms together.
3) Make friends with outsiders. This is what makes a Missional Family Group missional. Each group must determine who they are best set up to connect with and start planning out ways to make friends with that group. This group could be a neighborhood. It could be college students. It could be teachers at a school. It could be Auburn football fans. (That’s my favorite! haha) It could be business leaders or Doctor Who fans or a little league baseball team or... the list goes on and on. “I thought missions meant helping the less fortunate?” Everyone is equally less fortunate when they are outside of Christ... but, you may also focus on building relationships with the homeless, unwed mothers, orphans, or others who need our support. In these cases, the real mission could be the outsiders you invite to go with you.
4) Parties or Projects. We have said that there are many people in our communities who will not come to church but, they may come to a party or join you in a project to support the needy. Don’t invite people to church. Invite them to a party. Invite them to support a project.
5) Invite your new friends into the family. If you are intentionally making friends with outsiders and intentionally living in real family rhythms with insiders (other Christians) then you will always have an easy next to step for your new “outsider” friends to take. Imagine that you have been making friends with a couple at a party your Missional Family Group has been throwing every couple of weeks. They may be excited about coming to a Bible Study or to church, but for many, that step is too far. If your groups is living in family rhythms, you probably have a game night every couple of weeks or something like that. Invite them to your game night first. Then, maybe they are ready to join you for a meal. Then maybe they will be ready to join you for discussions about the Bible.
6) Build toward a depth group. We believe true life change happens in certain kinds of relationships. James 5 tells us what those relationships should look like. These groups should reflect four attributes. 1) You should speak truth into each others lives. 2) You should confess your sins to each other. 3) You should pray for each other. 4) You should act on your prayers, and serve each other in areas of need. This kind of relationship is most effective when its 3-5 people of the same gender who meet regularly to live out this vision regularly. We call these Depth Groups. The big goal of our church is to have everyone in our community in these kinds of relationships. That is the goal of a Missional Family Group.
SUMMARY: Over the next few weeks, we will dig in a little deeper and help everyone prepare to take specific actions to start or join effective Missional Family Groups. For now begin thinking of the people you are connected to that need to hear the gospel and become followers of Jesus. With those folks... make friends, become family, grow faith. -Lance