I have noticed a similar morphing taking place within some organic/simple church participants as well as some traditional church participants. The movement seems to be toward disciple making and missional communities as the core shape of the church.
Some might suggest, myself included, that the simple/organic church emphasis has helped pave the way for this. But the point is that, regardless of the impetus, the movement in this direction is positive.
Here are some voices, from a variety of backgrounds, which echo the focus on disciple making and missional communities as primary:
Jay Pathak, Vineyard Churches, talks about being missional in your locality:
It’s hard to be the church where you live, when you go to church where you don’t.
And we say all the time that church is supposed to be a people that are about what God is doing. And so churches aren’t buildings, they’re people, we’re the body of Christ, we’re the family of God…
So we’ve been trying to figure out, and push people towards, being the church where they live. Building Small Groups, engaging their neighbours, taking where their kids go to school very seriously, parents. Any issues or problems that are unique to their neighbourhoods – believing that we will be a part of a redemptive history of a city, if the church is the church where they live.”
Jordan Elder talks about the importance of missional communities which he defines this way: “a missional community is a family of servant missionaries committed to growing as disciples and making new disciples in all of life."
Simply put, the process of crafting a unique MC vision is about pursuing God together with your missional community, asking him to show you how he wants to work in you and through you during this time and place.
We do this because we believe God is working in this time and place. This is what we call Ancient Work. He is at work around us, accomplishing his purposes, using his people. It is our job to have eyes to see, ears to hear, and lives that are available to be used.
We do this because we believe that evangelism and discipleship best happen in community. Disciples cannot be mass produced. Disciples of Jesus are made life on life, life in community, and life on mission.
We do this because we believe that God speaks to us. He speaks to us about his work in the here and now. He speaks to us directly as we seek him in prayer, and he speaks to us through one another as we discuss and discern.
Mike Breen calls for the ‘American Church Revolution’ with these markers:
They are totally committed to making disciples, rather than just gathering believers.
They are defined by Mission to the world, rather than Ministry to Christians.
The wider Church community is comprised of a series of interdependent, smaller Missional Communities or, “Families on Mission.”
They are diligently deconstructing the expectations and aspirations of spiritual feudalism: everyone is the spiritual equal of everyone else.
There is significant common ground in the voices calling the church to recognize missional communities, incarnational ministry, and apprentice-like disciple making as fundamental DNA of the living church. The future of an impactful church is being shaped by these voices.