Reaching a whole town or city with the gospel. Saturating a place with good news. Completing the great commission where I live. If any of these thoughts excite you then you’ll be pleased to know that a number of places are beginning to ask the questions ‘what might that look like round here?’
As I’ve had the opportunity to explore and experiment with some of these ideas in the Liverpool city region in recent years, I’ve been asked to input to a number of other places – specifically Chester, Ipswich, Newcastle and Basingstoke this term.
What would it look like if in 10 years in your place everyone knew someone whose life had been transformed by Jesus? What if every neighbourhood had a small group of Christians living out life together, praying for their streets, practically blessing their neighbours, finding the people of peace, creating pathways to faith, and producing disciple-makers?
What if we did this so that everyone knew where to get spiritual bread, to get practical help, and to find Jesus? What if we multiplied these groups so that there was one missional expression of church (an MC in our language) for every 1000 people (#1in1000)?
This is our dream for seeing people and places transformed by the gospel.
Here’s a bunch of 15+ of those kind of Christians in Liverpool who are praying and plotting to do just that for their neighbourhood. Current plans for the next couple of months include:
- helping a neighbour with an overgrown garden.
- continuing to befriend the night-time security guard who watches a particular footballer’s mum’s house in our street.
- serving and blessing the local catholic primary school in our street (flapjacks for the receptionist so far).
- taking round bunches of daffodils for the women in our street over the mother’s day weekend and inviting their families to the Easter service.
What could it look like round your way?
Part of our vision as Kx is to see 1 missional expression of church planted for every 1000 people in England and Wales. That’s over 56,000 missional households, communities or churches in every neighbourhood across our villages, towns and cities. Now, we’re not going to be able to do this on our own – God is doing exciting things across our nation with lots of different churches, networks and organisations. But we want to plant our flag in the ground to say this is one of the key things we are focusing on over the next few years and hope you will join us in praying for and seek to plant #1in1000 in your area.
Here is a #1in1000 story from one of HBC Chester’s Missional Communities, called “Welcome” Missional Community.
‘As part of our missional community, we have operated a group called ‘International Forum, Chester’ for about a year. This group aims to welcome and engage with internationals in the Chester area. The IF group meets monthly in a neutral hired venue and has a talk for 20-30 minutes on a topic of international interest. Our numbers of attendees vary between a handful and 20. We have several Muslims from different countries who really enjoy the group and have become good friends.
In the summer we put on an additional event in conjunction with our broader Missional Community and wider people of peace. We had a BBQ in the local park and played ‘croccer’, a camp game based on cricket using a football. Our Muslim friends loved this event, and one of our Ugandan friends went to town bringing his BBQ and lots of food to share. Meanwhile friendships deepened and conversations went to a new level.
Our friends are asking questions about Christian faith and we have been able to share discussions in a natural and respectful way.’
Our Missional Community’s vision is to reach our neighbours around the area we live in Liverpool.
We started with 2 other families, so 6 adults and 6 kids in total. We wanted our MC to be an extended family on mission, so it was important from the start to build it around stuff that works for the kids and with people that were willing to share their lives with us.
So every Friday, 5pm we gather together for food. We rotate between our houses (all spitting distance from each other), and we do it ‘bring and share’ style. Easy – no fuss. So 5pm till 6pm we eat, chat, catch up. We draw the kids into a bit of prayer. Occasionally we’ve had a kids bible story. We regularly have neighbours join us. Then 6pm till 7pm we alternate between dads and mums accountability. So one week the dads take the kids back home and the mums meet together, then the following week the dads meet.
We try and focus this around the learning circle and 2 discipleship questions (What is God saying & what are you going to do about it?) We pray together. We find that because we’re sharing what’s going on in our lives through our Facebook, when we do meet, we can pray for one another with greater understanding. More recently another family have joined us that we led to faith a while back, but have been on the fringes for some time. It’s been a real joy to see them get committed and grow in their faith.
Once a month we do something more outwardly focused, so we tend to invite neighbours over for a drink, or extended one of our birthday parties out to the MC and neighbours so we can connect with them. We have a cycle of bigger outreach events for our housing estate, summer BBQ, bonfire night, Christmas carols and christingles, Easter egg hunt etc. Loads of people turn up to these and we’re building relationships with our neighbours.
Here is a great bit of story from a church which has been involved in Learning Communities and how they’ve seen growth in their church and development of new missional communities.
“I had in mind to thank you properly for all the support you give to the wider church and particularly the help to us as a church. It has been invaluable and we see the kingdom advancing through your endeavours – Thank you so much; we see you as a real gift from God to the church.
Despite not attending the latest round of learning communities we are making steady progress with our missional communities. As you know, we decided not to go for the big bang and started with two pilots. We now have 3 MC’s and plans for a 4th and maybe a 5th. The pleasing thing is that each one has started ‘bottom up’ with people approaching the leadership. Inspiring stories are starting to come and it is exciting:
– We have one group for the ‘more mature’ and have an event this Friday to which we expect about 20 ‘not yet believers’ from nearby sheltered accommodation where we have been given an open door to go in and out.
– We run a group for families with children with disabilities and special needs. This is proving a real blessing for families and we are even getting people referred to this group from outside – amazing.
– We have started a third called ‘Cafe of Hope’ for all the contacts and friends we make through the cafe.
– For our next one, which is in embryo, we have a vision statement and leader for ‘Life cycle’, based upon the men’s cycling group but with a wider remit.
Thank you, once again, for your help.”
This term our sermon series has been based in the book of Romans. As we have done this we looked at the ‘one another’ verses that can be found in the Bible (did you know there are over 50 of them?), so we called the series ‘Love One Another-Living as Family’. This is how we introduced the series to the church:
“We are looking forward to exploring what these different ‘One Another’ passages mean. One of the ways we are going to do this, that we’d love you to start thinking about will be to encourage everyone to get to know one another better by eating together in each other’s houses; a sort of ‘Come dine with me’ but without the rating system! The value behind this is to enable us to get to know each other better and give attention to who we are called to be as the people of God.
The series is going to start on 29th January and will last for 9 weeks, so get the dates in your diary and perhaps put up 1 Peter 4:8-9 on your fridge. ‘Above everything, love one another earnestly, because love covers over many sins. Open your homes to each other without complaining.’
And if you really want to go deep, the greek word for ‘One another’ is ἀλλήλων, pronounced ‘ah-LAY-loan’. Try and drop it into conversation during coffee time….people are certain to be impressed.”
We’ve had a number in the church talking about how they have loved getting to know different people through this series. They’ve been invited to houses and then on the back of that have been inspired to invite people to their houses in return. These people then themselves go on to invite people and so on.
One of the great things about it is that it’s encouraged people from across the ages and different groups in the church to meet together and find out about each other which is helping to give a greater sense of family. We used the twitter hashtag #tweetyoureat to share the fun!
Mike Rutter – Network Church Sheffield