The last two posts have brought up the tension between being missional and building effective community. I am continuing this discussion by mentioning an excellent article by Mark Van S in the new NextWave:
You are church before you do church. This is one of the fueling insights of the missional church movement. This isn’t a new idea…but it is pretty provocative, especially when one considers its implications. If we take Jesus at his word when he says (as recorded in John 20:21) “as the Father has sent me, I am sending you,” then we realize that our being sent is the basis of our “doing” church. In other words, missiology precedes ecclesiology...
Mark goes on to describe 6 incarnational practices to help engage your neighborhoods missionally. This is excellent material.
I have debated with others as to whether or not one can be missional and build effective community all at the same time. Some would say that the mission must be the core reason for the existence of the community (thus Mark's comment: "missiology precedes ecclesiology"). I would tend to say that "being community" is also a core reason for existing (love one another and build up one another) however the community must still be a missional community at the DNA level.
Either way (perhaps it's just semantics) I know that the challenge for all of us is to sustain our sending mission in a world that calls us to comfortable, passive, remote-control-tv living.