Gospel Communities on Mission Best Practices
Living as a Gospel Community on Mission is not a program with a script to follow, it's choosing to intentionally live everyday life with a missionary mindset. We simply love God and want to adjust our lives to thoroughly enjoy Him and each other in a way that invites more people to discover how good He is.
This will look different depending on who you are, where you live and whom you're serving. But these are some best practices we think most people in most situations will find helpful.
These groups help Christians equip and encourage each other grow as disciples of Jesus. Typically a DNA group is made up of 2-3 people of the same gender that meets once a week or so for Discovery, Nurture and Action. In a DNA group, each person might take turns sharing what they've been Discovering lately through the Bible, prayer and obeying God. They also spend time Nurturing one another by asking good questions to find out how each person is really doing, what they're celebrating, struggling with, etc. Then they inspire one another toward Action to keep each person real and on the move. DNA groups can multiply as more people are invited in.
One of the most important functions of a DNA group is helping one another understand and live your stories within God's big story. To help with that we've created a 12-week curriculum called "God's Story, Our Story" (parts 1 and 2 available below). This curriculum not only teaches about how our stories fit within God's story, but also provides practical training for the habits and practices to do so. We recommend that every person engaging in a DNA group for the first time start with this curriculum. It works better if you go through it together as a group (even if it means someone is going through it again!).
Hospitality (inclusive gatherings and service opportunities)
Think of yourselves as an extended family who likes to get together for meals, to celebrate birthdays, to work side by side to help people in need, etc. And this extended family understands that everyone is welcome to invite new friends because biblical hospitality always has room at the table. You might gather once a month for a big family meal that is always open to guests. Maybe once a month just isn't enough. Maybe you take turns hosting parties or open houses for your community. Maybe you serve the poor in your community each month. The possibilities are endless. The point is, create your own ways of inviting people IN to experience the people of God and more importantly, the God who unifies us.
These are the natural gathering places of the larger community you're living among as local missionaries. Maybe people in your neighborhood hang out mostly at the local elementary school or at the neighborhood park or pool. Maybe people in your book club hang out at Powell's. Maybe the foster parents you want to serve gather once a month for some training and encouragement. Part of being sent OUT by Jesus could be spending more time in those places and being friendly to the people you meet. The cool thing is, these are also places you're likely to run into the Christians you're doing life with since their spending more time in these places too.
As you invite people into your extended family gatherings and are sent out to spend time with your larger community in the places they already hang out, you can be praying something along the lines of... "Lord, I'm all yours today. I'm ready to encourage someone on your behalf today. Who would you like to provide for through me today? You've given me more than enough and I'm ready to bless someone. Who would you like to reconcile to yourself today through me? I'll speak the words of life you've given me, help them start to trust you and teach them to obey you. Whatever you'd like to do through me today, count me in."
DNA groups, hospitality and hangouts are helpful ways to implement the gospel, community and mission into your everyday life. They work well for a lot of people and they may be exactly what you need but please feel free to flex and adapt these ideas that best fit your situation.