I am exploring whether or not to lead a new sub-community in a megachurch that would be an attempt at missional community. We had our first meeting last Sunday as a core group, discussing the conceptual ideas I have for such a group.
I found that first meeting both frustrating and exciting. The concepts of missional community and the emerging church are foreign to most of the people in this suburban megachurch, so it will take some time for some people to "get it." The pastoral leadership at this church is split—some are very modern in their Christianity, perpetuating the attractional megachurch model for outreach. Others are more in tune with creating more incarnational communities within the church for the sake of offering the Kingdom of God to those who have not yet experienced it.
My working acronym for this new community is EPIC. I stole the idea from Leonard Sweet (in his books Post-Modern Pilgrims and The Gospel According to Starbucks). However, where Sweet has “Image-Driven” for the “I” in EPIC, I have changed that to what I feel is the central core purpose of our missional community. The "EPIC" I hope to establish will be an "Experiential, Participatory, Incarnational Community."
Here’s what I want our community to be:
- Evangelical megachurches talk a lot about God and the Bible, but not enough effort is given to actually experiencing God.
- We will take time for experiences that connect us with God, like contemplative prayer and worshipful communion around the bread and the cup.
- Evangelical churches talk a lot about the priesthood of all believers and the empowering of gifted people for ministry, but the pastors and missionaries are still seen as the full-time Christian ministers.
- We will encourage the people in this community to participate in the ministry, owning it for themselves and forging it with their own personal gifts and endeavors.
- Evangelical churches have partitioned the gospel into “personal conversion/being born again” and “care for the needy.” The first takes precedence, while the second is seen only as a route to the first.
- We will eliminate this dualistic understanding of the gospel of the Kingdom by seeking to be the incarnation of Christ to our part of the world. We will do what Christ would do, with caring, loving, compassionate concern for the holistic needs of people.
- Evangelical megachurches are infamous as places where people pop in and out without anybody ever knowing each other.
- We will create a sub-community into which we can invite people so that they can experience what it means to be loved by fellow Christians.