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What is a mission community?
Mission communities are groups of people meeting all over the Greater Fort Wayne region who are on mission. The average size of these communities typically ranges from four to ten families. Most meet weekly (various days of the week) and most meet in homes (not all, however).
What is the goal of a mission community?
Each mission community has the same goal: loving God (UP), loving each other (IN) and loving the world (OUT). It is about the two greatest commandments (love God and love your neighbor) and about the Great Commission (make new followers of Jesus). Doing these three things, while at the same time building relationships, are the purposes of each mission community.
Are mission communities simply small groups?
There are many similarities between mission communities and traditional small groups, but there are very specific differences. Small groups typically are Bible study centered or fellowship centered. They are usually considered a subset of the church. Mission communities are not subsets of the church but are considered "the" church, and they are far more holistic than Bible study and fellowship only.
How are mission communities structured?
While all mission commuinities have the same three way focus and goal (UP, IN, OUT), each one has a unique group of people, and therefore, will implement the vision differently. Each MC is encouraged be creative, develop their own passions, and do things the way they want to do them. Most will practice teaching, agape feasts, communion, baptism, singing, social events, outreach events, service projects, etc. Even though every MC is connected to Grace Gathering overall, in a very real sense each mission community is like a church in and of itself.
What is a missional focus?
Because OUT is the hardest to implement of the UP, IN, OUT focus, each MC is encouraged to develop a specific missional focus. This brings about intentionality with regard to serving the community and reaching others for Christ. Some examples of a missional focus are the following: ministry to a specific ethnic group, ministry at The Fort Wayne Mission, ministry to teens, ministry to single mothers, ministry to crisis pregnancy center, ministry to Refugees in Fort Wayne, reaching parents of child's sports team, ministry to the homebound, jail ministry, nursing home, ministry to reach a certain neighborhood, ministry to military families who have a spouse/parent serving overseas, etc.
What about children in mission communities?
Mission communities will determine their own practice regarding the integration of children. Some may want to include children in parts of their time together such as singing, communion, aspects of teaching, service projects etc. Others may want to secure child care during the time of meetings. Still others may want to have someone use a Bible study curriculum targeted to children in a separate room of the house. Depending on the demographic make-up of the mission church regarding age and stage of life, mission communities may try multiple options with regard to children.
What happens when a mission community gets too big?
The goal is that every mission community will eventually get too big. The early church in the book of Acts did not stay the same numerically because churches were reaching new converts for Christ. Likewise, healthy mission communities will be reaching others for Christ as well. As this happens and as groups get too large for a home, a mission community will reproduce new mission communities. Growth by multiplication is what we see in Acts and is what we hope to see among Grace mission churches. The process of multiplication is a very exciting time in the life of a mission communities.
How do mission communities and the Sunday morning gathering interact?
Sunday morning services are an opportunity for all the mission communities to gather together as part of a larger family of believers to be encouraged, to receive teaching, and to sense the support of a larger body. Because all mission communities are vitally connected to Grace Gathering as a whole, they are undergirded by Grace, they fall underneath the accountability of the elders, and they all receive ongoing training and coaching.
What are youth comminities?
YC's have a similar focus and structure as other MC's, the only difference is they are led and run by teens. Each YC has adult mentors, but these communities are led by teens, and these teens are given permission to be the church in their context of life.
If I am new, how can I get involved in one?
The best thing to do is choose two or three and try them. All mission communities are always open and are never closed to newcomers. They desire new people. As you try a few, choose the one that you feel best fits you and your family.
What if I want more information about this concept of mission communities?
This brief FAQ is meant to give you a snapshot understanding. If you would like to learn more about these concepts and how they work at Grace, the best thing to do is read our Mentor Guide. This will give you more explanation regarding this philosophy of ministry here at Grace. Also, feel free to e-mail Scott Jester at SJester@gracegathering.com.