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Towards a discipleship culture

Andy Glover outlines the role and purpose of the pilot missional community at Hoole Baptist Church in Chester

We had our first organised community gathering of the pilot Missional Community that Sue and I will be leading for the next six months. We've called in i61 as this reflects the vision of the MC. We have invited approx. 32 adults and 16 children to become our extended family - a family on mission... We had a really good few hours together, lots of food, conversations, laughter and fun.

CrossThis is what we said as we talked about what we are seeking to do with thanks to Mike Breen and Ben Sternke for helping us shape our thoughts....

The role and purpose of a Missional Community and how it relates to the Sunday Morning Gathering

You see both expressions of this dynamic in the earliest forms of church that we see in the pages of the book of Acts. “Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts” (Acts 2:46). The word translated “home” is the Greek word oikos. The rhythm is a regular expression (every day) of temple and oikos.

Throughout the book of Acts you see this DNA playing out, sometimes leaning more towards temple (the more organized and structured aspects of being the Body of Christ), other times leaning more towards oikos (the more organic and spontaneous aspects of being the Body of Christ). When persecution breaks out, for example, the church leans heavily on oikos, since gathering publicly would have been unwise. In Ephesus, Paul sees a need at a certain point to lean into temple, renting the Hall of Tyrannus for daily public training discussions.

You see the embracing of this both/and dynamic in Acts 20:20, where Paul is saying goodbye to the Ephesian elders on the beach of Miletus. He sums up his ministry among them by saying that he has taught them ”publicly and from house to house.”

While we all have preferences and leanings toward one or the other, it seems to me that we need to embrace both temple and oikos if we’re going to see the kinds of things we see happening in the book of Acts.

I heard Paul Maconochie say once that if all we have is temple we tend to get fat (not burning off enough calories on mission), while if all we have is oikos we tend to get faint (too much energy expenditure with not enough nourishment). But if we can embrace both temple and oikos, we become fit (being nourished properly for the task of mission).

The early church gathered in what the New Testament calls oikos, which means household. But an oikos wouldn’t only include one’s immediate family. It also included extended family, business relationships, slaves, and friends. The oikos was the major social structure of Rome, and the early Christians did a brilliant job of using it as the major social structure for the church. The relational pathways of oikos were the primary ways that new people came to faith in Jesus.

You can see this pattern in many of the New Testament letters. In Romans 16, Paul seems to be greeting numerous oikos communities that met throughout the city.

So here are six simple, but very accessible principles for creating an oikos:

    Shared vision (What do we exist for? In other words, in what way is this community going to bring heaven to earth?)
    Shared resources
    Extended family (= more than a nuclear family, we’d say a minimum of 15, max of 30 people)
    Mum/Dad (leaders in “spiritually fathering and mothering” mode)
    Common meal

One of the things God has been speaking to us a lot about lately is the need to create these extended families that really are experiencing radical community together. I think these principles are an excellent lens to use and give people when evaluating/creating the pilot missional community.

So off we go on the next phase of this exciting discovery on how to make disciples who make disciples who make disciples....

The Revd Andy Glover is minister of Hoole Baptist Church in Chester. This reflection is taken from his blog just wondering

Missional clusters which are 'small enough to know everyone but large enough to do things' - a report from Morden Baptist Church
Picture: RGB Stock
Baptist Times, 03/02/2014
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