Here is a Story from Graeme Mallet. Graeme and Eli, with their 4 children, are members of Frontline and working with Africa Inland Mission in Madagascar. They are partnering with the Malagasy church to establish disciple making movements among some of the unreached peoples of North West Madagascar. Follow this link for more information about their ministry: http://eu.aimint.org/pray/peopleandplaces/themalletts/
As a missionary from Frontline Church in Liverpool, who is involved in T4T work in Madagascar, it has been really interesting and exciting to come back on Home Assignment to the UK and get involved in missional communities here.
For many UK Christians the prospect of being part of a real community is often the primary motivation for getting involved in missional communities. In our society today many people’s busy lives, although filled with technology with its virtual communities, lack deep, interdependent and real community with others. Often we have worked very hard not to be dependent on others or else if we have become dependent we become dependent on the state rather than other people. This increasing lack of real community that is observed in many parts of western society has not been normal historically, and is not normal for the majority of people on earth currently. It is certainly different from most people in Madagascar who usually live in very close and interdependent communities, whether they are Christian or not. The people of God described in the Bible, frequently lead interdependent communal lives, for example, in Luke’s description of the Jerusalem church in Acts 2. People have an innate God given desire (perhaps suppressed) to be a part of a community. Being community is fun and challenging but also very rewarding.
However, while I love and long for deep community (it can be lonely living in another country), I believe that if we want to see God move in a really big way in our nation through ‘missional communities’, we need to be more motivated by the ‘missional’ part of that phrase rather than the ‘community’.
One of the common hallmarks of the ‘disciple making movements’ (sometimes called ‘church planting movements’) that have seen exponential growth in parts of the Islamic World has been a missional vision which is built into the DNA of the communities so that people catch it as much as learn it. Steve Smith, the author of the book ‘T4T: discipleship re-revolution’ has observed over the years that the quality which best determines whether a leader will see God use them to start a disciple making movement is if the leader has the ability to do what he calls ‘cast vision’ I.e. envision others.
What challenged me about the vision T4T looks to instil was its intergenerational nature. It is a vision which is greater than just seeing the members of your missional community seeing people come to faith but is about seeing the people your missional community have seen come to faith, being fruitful, going out and seeing more people come to faith. That requires us to be quite intentional about what we are doing to enable new born Christians to be fruitful.
Disciple making movements are not totally analogous to ‘missional communities’ in the UK because in such movements there is no mother church providing oversight and accountability. Often the initial leaders of such a movement are trusting the Holy Spirit is guiding the leaders of those house churches which are out of contact with themselves. It is a bit scary, a bit messy and a bit like the growth of the church we see in the New Testament. They are also often working in a society where there is no existing church and so the people in their groups are effectively a blank canvas as far as church is concerned. This means the missional vision of the movement is not competing with the pre-existing ideas people have of church in the same way that they are in the UK. However I still believe that missional communities in the UK that are best at imparting the missional vision will be those that see the most growth. I look forward to seeing God working through them.