Recently, I had the opportunity to speak at Exponential on the topic of transitioning a church with small groups to a church with Missional Communities (MC’s). A few asked for some notes on it and thought I’d do a few blog posts on it.
The first step in this process is to start with why and the win of this transition. The second step is to get essential leaders on board. Next you need to handle leaders who do not get on board in a loving way and finally, leaders lead by example.
At this point, many leaders shoot themselves in the foot because they have too many options.
At Revolution, we do two things: our Sunday gathering and missional communities. We don’t have a men’s ministry or a women’s ministry, we don’t do a bunch of bible studies and this is by design. The average person will give you two times a week for something at church. When you have too many options, people are unsure which is the most important thing.
The other thing churches do is they don’t make it obvious what is the next step from a Sunday gathering. Is it a group, is it serving, a ministry. When this happens, people feel paralyzed and instead of picking something (although proactive people do) most simply opt to not engage.
The other thing many churches fall into the trap of when it comes to MC’s is choosing to meet until Jesus returns. This comes from the idea that family never stops spending time together, so our MC’s must meet every week forever. First, families don’t spend every week together. Extended families don’t, people go on vacation, have activities, etc. Practically, this keeps men from engaging because men like end dates. In Tucson, the summer begins at memorial day and runs until the middle of July when school starts again (we are on a year round school calendar). Because of this, our MC’s take off June and July. We begin having sign-ups for MC’s in July so that they can start again in August. We also have ones that begin in January. We have them all start at the same time, instead of staggering them so that there is momentum to new things starting, new people have a chance to start fresh with everyone and it helps kick off a ministry season with excitement.
In your situation, you have to decide what is the next step, what is the order for people to best get connected and make that obvious. For people in our context who are skeptical about an MC, we push them towards serving as a next step, something that feels like a lower risk to them (this is particularly true for men who don’t want to jump into community). Whatever the order, make it clear, remove the barriers for people so they opt in.