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Category: Ministry Design (page 1 of 11)

The Biggest Mistake I made launching Missional Communities

It’s been about 7-years since Kaleo Church transitioned to a ‘missional-community’ led model. Back in 2007 I began going public with this transition, posting blog posts such as: (Side Note: I’ve recently moved on from Kaleo when my family moved to Coronado)

  • The Decline of the Western Church and the Call to renew your Church’s Ecclesiology
  • The Church as Movement – Organizing Decentralization
  • Triperspectival Ecclesiology – Being the Church as Corporate, Intimate & Group
  • Such noble sounding posts! A lot of the thoughts and diagrams were summarized in this document (including some great diagrams like the one below): Building a Church Movement of Gospel Centered Communities
    Missional Community Movements

    While I still stand by much of the thinking at the time, I’d commend people who are thinking of making this transition to avoid one of the biggest mistakes I believe I made (and I made many) in this transition: Why is way more important than what/how.

    Recently I was reminded of this when a local church leader asked me to come and present to a small group of people who were excited about creating missional communities and living that way. As part of that exercise I asked each person to write down ‘why’ they wanted to be a part of missional communities. Here’s a few of their answers:

    I feel that I need to make a positive change in my life and to become a missionary would help me invest time and energy into something positive.

    It’s very hard for me to see people going down morally, spiritually and even physically. When you know the truth and the revelation of what God has done and can do, it becomes your reason to live.

    Obedience = Rewards. To be a Godly example to my children and impact future generations to be followers. To save the lost.

    I believe Jesus commissioned us to reach out to the lost. No, I really believe it.


    Because I know how empty and purposeless life is without the Lord. Because that is what Jesus intended for us > to tell others and spread God’s glory.

    In the times when we have lived in community I have felt most fulfilled and close to God.

    In obedience to my savior, Jesus. To show others the love he has shown me.

    What is your reason for doing missional community? I think one of the biggest mistakes I made was overlooking the great variety of reasons why people agreed (or resisted) to living life in Missional Community. This causes problems. Looking at the above answers, some of them I believe the motivation isn’t deep enough. It isn’t tapped into the Father God who made us and loves/transforms us so we ‘get to’ invite others into relationship with him. (Part of the solution I felt lines up in the post I did called: The 5-Dysfunctions of Missional Community) Take the time to answer these why’s. I believe in the long run, it’s going to be critical to your ability to be effective missionaries.

    As we continue to live this way in our new home, this reason of ‘why’ is a big part of the onboarding/discipleship process when Christians want to join in what we are doing.

    The 5-Dysfunctions of Missional Community

    This weekend I was thinking about why missional community life often feels broken. More specifically, why do people resist or fight against the call to be missional in community? As I’ve thought about my own experience and gathering from some of what I’ve learned as part of the GCM Collective, I thought of the idea of The 5-Dysfunctions of Missional Community. Agree? Disagree? I would love to hear your take on what I’m saying are the 5-Dysfunctions of Missional Community.

    Working theory: Calling people to be missional or in a ‘missional community’, is the absolute wrong place to start. The very name puts the emphasis on the ‘results’ or fruit of the Christian life rather than who they are in Christ. (Aside: If I were to start over, I don’t think I’d call them Missional Communities.) Because, for many, the way of life of the missonal community is so foreign from their Christian/Church experience it ends up being a new law, or way of living they try to perform in their desire to please God. The issue becomes one of needing foundational discipleship for people in order for them to move to a place where living life on mission is a joyful result of a transformed life.

    What common dysfunctions cause the mission to be derailed? Here’s what I’ve been toying with called the 5-Dysfunctions of Missional Community. The pyramid on the left represents the corresponding areas of discipleship that would need focus on. The right upside down pyramid represents the ‘right-side’ errors that that need to addressed. (Another set of errors around licentiousness exist).

    the 5-Dysfunctions of Missional Community

    So what should we do to address these potential dysfunctions? Go after the 5 truths needed that lead to a life of fruitful mission. I’ll unpack these from the bottom, up.

    Identity: At the foundation, people’s identity needs to change. First and foremost this begins at conversion, but continues where people see the idea of ‘adoption’ into the family of God as Sons is critical. Often believers struggle with one foot in the world (eg. consumers) versus finding their identity as the Kingdom of Priests. Without this identity changing, it is difficult to move upward. (Part of the reason that I wrote Going Deeper: Preaching the Gospel & Your Identity)
    Gospel: After the identity change, people’s motivations come into play. If they are not adopted sons, the legalism/licentiousness errors creep in as people find motivation for acceptance on what they do (orphan mentality) rather than who they are and the grace that changes everything. If the gospel isn’t the motivation, mission will be short-lived.
    Glory: Next, people have to see and behold God’s glory and fear him. This will be the beginning of wisdom and cause them to live as God commands.
    Worship: Next as these come together an attitude of joyful “I get to” takes place. Rather than duty, mission becomes an act of worship because we are loved by God and love Him.
    Spirit: Lastly, we see we cannot do this by our own power. It is only through prayer and seeking the Holy Spirit’s lead can we embark on mission. It is in our resting in God and His Spirit that spiritual fruit is produced.

    So, right now my working theory is that we start at the bottom and work up as follows:

    What foundational discipleship do you see necessary as you lead your people on mission?

    Building a Church Movement of Gospel Centered Communities

    I found the document posted below from years ago. It brought together a variety of resources and thoughts I and others have posted on leading Mission/Gospel Communities. It takes a lot of the writing/posts I did back in 2006-2008 on how Kaleo transitioned to Missional Communities. Some of these things looked great in theory, some worked and others are a work-in-progress.

    It has been rewarding to hear of people over the years who have been influenced by some of these writings and the impact it has been to them. I have been blessed to hear some who were introduced to the MC-model through I’m blessed to have been connected to people like David Fairchild, Jeff Vanderstelt, Caesar Kalinowski, Steve Timmis, Tim Chester, Mike Goheen and many others who shaped my thinking. Much of the thought has gone further than these ideas, and you can find them at the GCM Collective. The GCM Collective exists to promote, create and equip Gospel Communities on Mission. Today the GCM Collective is the largest organized community of missional leaders in the world.

    For those who’d like to grab this pdf (see below), here’s an outline of some of what it covers:

    The Values of a Gospel-Centered Missional Community
    Forms of Expressing the Church
    – Triperspectival Ecclesiology
    – Plurality of Elders & First Amongst Equals
    – Leading a Decentralized Movement
    – Missional Eldership
    – Leading a Movement not an Institution
    The Community
    – The Gospel work in Community
    – Missional Leaders in Community
    – Leadership Development in Community
    >> Missional Community Leaders
    >> Deacons/Servants
    >> Counselors
    – Missional Community Leader Assessment Interview
    Multiplying Missional Communities
    Organic Movement – Reverse Church Planting

    Download: (Sample of some of the pages, full pdf is 34 pages long)

    Hope this is helpful! One day I wanted to take this, edit it, update it and create a e-book of sorts. Here’s a sample of a graphic from the pdf:

    Shared Missional Community Leadership based on Soma Identities

    As Kaleo continues to invest in the life of our local church one of the desires brought up is to more greatly share leadership. Could there be a shared leadership model based on our identities? In this, Zac Anderson and Jeff Ramsey brought up an idea about what shared leadership looks like based on our identities as family, missionaries, servants, and learners.

    We discussed what activities, roles, and areas of focus a leader in each identity might have.

    Family: encouragement, teaching, care (know needs!), hospitality, counseling, DNA brother to brother, children, admin, historian, pay bills
    Missionary: faithful to living out the mission, evangelist, seek opportunities for mission and service, outward passion
    Servants: empathy, intuitive, gifts of service, hospitality, deacon, serving community, Sunday gathering
    Learners/Disciples: scriptures, DNA, teach MC members (know how to teach), godly example, equipping, facilitating gospel in all of life, storying, coaching

    How do you share leadership? What are the obstacles to enacting a shared leadership model?

    Concurrently, Caesar who met with the Missio guys and a church in Austin that spoke about how they share leadership based on GCM. One of the missional aspects they discussed was a ‘Community’ leader could even be a person who is not a believer.

    Non-Profit Functional Board of Directors and Elders for Churches

    How do you get the most out of your Board? How do you avoid the awkward Board Meetings where issues are presented and members address surface layers because they aren’t involved in the challenges being discussed? How do you go beyond the missed expectations from one another? Over the last few years I’ve had the privilege to serve in on several Boards, advisory council roles, elder teams or on executive teams which has allowed me to see ways we haven’t led well but also ways that were led well. In that, I thought I’d share a bit of my experience and hopefully hear from others about what they think has worked to enhance their Board leadership experience.

    On two of the boards, I’ve advocated a move to a Functional Board of Directors (from now on this term will also serve for elder led churches). Functional Boards means that each board member has their role defined and is clear on what is expected of them. Prior to this we operated with unclear expectations and more of a coaching role on issues that surfaced but didn’t feel this was very effective or best using the talent of the board. Here’s how that transition occurred:

    1. Create Unity on the Big Picture: Usually the process begins by facilitating an offsite day using a 1-Pager (we’ve used these type of tools with churches during the MonkDev Strategy Sessions as well) to help capture vision, values, obstacles and goal type information. When we’ve done this with organizations there are times where these elements have been thought through and people easily navigate and re-center on these things and other times where this type of process is brand new, so it takes more time. Take the goals and move to the next step.
    2. Bring Clarity on Strategic Initiatives: After big picture goals are agreed upon, identify 5-6 strategic initiatives that are necessary to achieve those goals. For example, one of the 1-pager goals of a non-profit was to become self-supporting and move from the founder donating a large portion of the monies. The strategic initiatives under that were many, but included increasing revenue. At this point ‘triage’ the situation to see which element if focused most keenly on would have the biggest impact on driving the initiative. In this case, sponsorship was the largest source of revenue and the most immediate to become self-supporting.
    3. Create Board ‘Chair’ positions to have key responsibility over an area: In this regard their are a lot of tools, my experience comes in the form of a Quad Report (so-named because it focuses on 4 things: Role Description (Core Purpose of Role, Responsibilities, What does Success look like?), Core Strategies (how does this role’s outcomes directly feed into the strategic initiatives?), A KPI dashboard (Google KPI Dashboard) and specific goals. In our example, a Board position was created for a Sponsor Chair to oversee growing the sponsorship function and since sponsorship revenue has raised ahead of projections. The position does need to take into account that this person is often a volunteer. They should champion the vision and seek to find people who can help execute. For the non-profit there is an executive director who has worked to tackle a number of the Quad deliverables such as clearer Media Kit for potential sponsors.

    Some thoughts on how this applies to a church: One of the biggest breakdown I’ve experienced with a team is unclear expectations. This process can clear this up and release elders to be the first amongst equals in the area of responsibility they are over. In my experience, we’ve had a first amongst equals who sees how all the parts are working together for the greater whole (like the Chair position of President or Chairperson). For more on eldership/leaders structure from my blog, also read: Elders – Missional Movements, Plurality of Leadership & First Amongst Equals and other posts I’ve done on Triperspectival Leadership.

    The Permanent Revolution: The Need

    Alan Hirsch argues that the church is in need to return back to the state of a permanent revolution. Christianity has become a civil religion that has lost it’s vibrancy (p 26) and moved from the apostolic people-movement Jesus created. We are entering into a season where increasingly there is organizational doubt about how we organize. See image:

    As Hirsch states, “We very much believe our message but we can’t seem to deliver it as effectively as we used to, and we feel bad about it.” Unless we address these doubts, Hirsch argues that the church will continue to move to increasing doubt beyond operations to the very message itself. The issue is one of needing new wine skins. Most churches will be unable to see this need because they are within the system and suffer from “paradigm blindness”. Yet, if we don’t change we will move into deeper organizational complacency (p 36) and settle into a civil religion. The argument presented is we need to rethink two major functions, first seeing the church as an apostolic movement and secondly, seeing the need for apostolic leadership to create missional movements, that is churches that express themselves in a local context, in a city, in a region and in the World.

    Have we moved into a period of operational doubt? The ‘modern’ church has been under increasing attack of late. This is the church that has flourished in a time where programs, systems and attractional woo brought many into it’s doors, even baptizing them. The question may not be the right way to approach this. One of the things that we decided at Kaleo was, “What is the best way to see the gospel flourish in our community?” It was at this time we moved from a Sunday as the primary gathering mentality to seeing Missional Communities as the organizing principle within our church. Now, we made a lot of mistakes in leading our people through this process, which I can share plenty about. This need reminded me of a session I did at the GCA Church Planting Conference in 2007 on Communication in Our Post-Christian World, where I discussed three trends that increasingly will impact the church:

    1. The Cultural Shift we are Experiencing will Change Paradigms. Gen X is over 40 years old now and in positions of power and change. The postmodern view is becoming more dominant and central as the generational shift occurs. Or one of my favorite quotes from Peter Drucker in The Post Capitalist Society, [1993; page 1] says: “Every few hundred years in Western history there occurs a sharp transformation …. within a few short decades, society rearranges itself – its worldview, its basic values, its social and political structure, its arts, its key institutions. Fifty years later, there is a new world. And the people born then cannot even imagine the world in which their grandparents lived, and into which their own parents were born. We are currently living through just such a transformation.”
    2. Christendom is increasingly moving to the Fringes. Hirsch and the above quotes discuss this further.
    3. More People in our Communities will have a Gospel Inoculation. People have heard enough about Jesus to think, I don’t know what God if any I believe in but I don’t believe in that god. Sadly, these people typically haven’t seen what it means to be a Christian.

    Are you feeling these changes? How is your church addressing the shift?

    GCM Conference Collective Experience

    Are you attending the 2011 GCM Conference? If so, join us for the pre-conference Collective Experience:

    Join other Missional Leaders from across the country to serve as a form of “advisory board” while at the conference. In this pre-conference you will experience peer-learning; what others are doing, what is working, what they are learning and how they have dealt with similar challenges you currently face.

    What happens at the conference? Key to the Collectives success is the relationship between the people. At the conference you will attend a pre-conference reception to meet, greet, eat and begin to engage with a group of missional leaders. While you go through the conference we will encourage time for your Collective to connect and process learnings together.

    What happens after the conference? Each Collective will be given a private group within the GCM Collective Community website for you to dig deeper with your peers and share best practices, successes and challenges going forward together. During the post-conference reception we will share suggestions and our recommendations, but ultimately you determine how you would like to interact after the conference.

    The goal is for you to be able to share experiences, resources and support to assist you in the ongoing mission God has called you to in your city.

    An Exclusive Opportunity for Church Communicators

    We’ve been silently working behind the scenes for the past few months at MonkDev, talking with some of the best and brightest in the church communications space. We’ve been planning our latest project, the Church Communicator Roundtable. It’s launching in a week, right before the Echo Conference. This invite-only event is an gathering of church communications practitioners who, simply put, know their stuff. Justin Wise has been hand-selecting people all across the country to bring together a solid set of individuals who know how to influence and not just communicate. We have one spot that we’re opening to the public and I’d like to offer that seat exclusively to you. Want to apply?

    As a Dallas Roundtable Member, you’ll receive:

    A 30 min Pre-Event Coaching Session
    Dinner at the III Forks Restaurant
    Lunch at the Aloft Hotel
    A Disruptive Learning Event of Important Trends
    Key Findings and Best Practices report from the content generated at the Roundtable
    A Communication Strategy to Traction Plan Session
    Networking opportunities with some of the brightest minds in the church comm space

    Coming to Chicago in the Fall!

    Gospel Communities on Mission Conference

    Attend the annual Gospel Communities on Mission Conference in Huntsville, AL. September 14-16, 2011

    The GCM Collective hosts our inaugural conference focused on the three vital components of effective ministry today: Gospel, Community and Mission.

    You will get to hear from, meet and interact with leaders who are daily practitioners, living in gospel communities on mission in their cities. This is a unique experience that will present the why, what and how-to of starting, leading and multiplying missional communities. Interactive plenary sessions, breakouts and unique training experiences will fill our days both on-site and off.

    Big church, small church, multi-site or neighborhood…this event is for every church that seeks to effectively expand the gospel in their context.

    Speakers:, Steve Timmis, Jeff Vanderstelt, Caesar Kalinowski, David Fairchild, Drew Goodmanson and Jonathan Dodson.

    Early Bird rate ($59) for GCM Collective conference ends Thursday,June 30! Dont miss it!!

    Hawaiian Islands Ministries Honolulu 2011 Conference

    Hawaiian Islands Ministry Honolulu March 24-26, 2011 | Hawaii Convention Center –

    Join me, I will be presenting 3 sessions:

    A Look into the Near and Distant Future of Online Ministry
    In this session leaders will learn how to develop web strategy to address a ministries’ needs. Learn what is on the horizon that will impact your ministry. This session is designed for strategic leaders regardless of their technological level of understanding. In this session participants will 1) learn how to plan for an effective ministry online strategy, 2) explore key emerging technologies that will impact their ministry and 3) hear how cutting edge organizations are implementing revolutionary practices today.

    Websites/Social Media and Your Church
    In this session you will get behind the scene access to the real world results of several church web strategies. We’ll look at the church website, social media involvement, mobile, content creation and more to see what is really happening. How effective are they? What are the best practices or common mistakes a church makes? This valuable session will equip you with practical insight, best practices & strategies that your church can implement whether you are an online expert or a beginner.

    Forming Missional Communities
    In this session you will learn how to build “Missional Communities.” We will discuss how churches have planted or transitioned to include living as a community of people who are united around a common, local mission. Also, how these communities are local expressions of Jesus and his church in the world, living out the gospel in all ways. Learn from one of the founders of the GCM Collective (Gospel Community Mission) about how these movements are changing cities and reaching the lost.

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