Saturday, April 03, 2010
In Missional Renaissance, Reggie McNeal introduces such groups in this way: “The anticipated future has arrived in the form of missional communities in every culture where the Westernized Constantinian order is collapsing and the organic church is taking root.” I won’t try to unpack everything that McNeal is saying there, but the key point is this: A more incarnational form is replacing the institutional form of the church.
These groups go by several names. In Europe, they are called “clusters” or “midsized groups.” The model includes many of the groups that we would call “house churches.” Some take the form of “new monastic communities.” Whatever they are called, they tend to have four characteristics in common.
First, they are committed to the spiritual growth of the participants. They encourage one another in spiritual formation and the practice of the disciplines of the faith.
Fourth, they practice accountability. They believe that genuine spiritual growth and authentic ministry only take place where there is a high degree of accountability.
Are these churches? Yes and no. I suppose it depends on your definition of church. They certainly are expressions of the people of God on mission with God. If that is what you mean by church, yes. They are not concerned about buildings, programs, and building an institution. If that is what you mean by church, no.
In subsequent posts, I hope to unpack the idea of missional faith communities further and consider their relation to the traditional church.