I posted this almost 9 months ago, but as we’ve had a number of conversations about this very topic this summer, I thought it would be helpful to repost it.
If you’re trying to learn or relearn something, you have to construct a context in which that learning can take place, yeah?
Here’s an example to this point: Just imagine for a moment everyone in the world forgot how to drive a car. And they had these hunks of metal on wheels in there driveways and don’t know what to do with them. One day you hear, “There was a time when they used to drive them, sit in them, and go places.”
“Yeah! That circular thing is a wheel and you can turn it and it directs where that heavy thing would go. (By the way, it’s called a car).”
“Really? Because we’ve been using it for kids to climb on and we’ve put planters in the headlights. You mean it’s not to be used for lawn ornaments?”
So imagine that world. Your friend has told you this. You do a little digging and after a while you find this book and it talks about how to drive a car. What do you do? You don’t just get on the road and take it out for a spin. You have no idea what you’re doing. You have no idea how people react, or for that matter, how many people you might kill in that metal death trap. What you do is get it on a racetrack where you have space to test out the car without hurting anyone. It provides a space for you to experiment and get your bearings when driving this new vehicle.
We’ve lost the extended family and we’ve lost the oikos on mission. (Oikos being the Greek word used in the New Testament for “households” that refers to the extended families existing as households on mission for the first 300 years of the life of the church).
What we are doing with Missional Communities (20-50 people acting as an extended family on mission together) is constructing an oikos that helps us understand what the NT church did and how it did it. It’s a cocoon where we learn all of the necessary skills so that we can be an oikos and be a family on mission. Missional Communities aren’t the end goal. They are the vehicle that gets us back to the original thing. MC’s serve as the racetrack where we can get to know this foreign thing before we take it back full force onto the streets, which will take some time.
In 50 years time, people will look back and say, “It’s hilarious, they used to make people get in MC’s because they didn’t know how to do this. Isn’t that amazing!?”
Or to use another analogy…Missional Communities are to oikos what a cocoon is to a butterfly.
Or even another one…Missional Communities are the training wheels that teach us how to ride the bike of oikos.
(***And just to clarify, because I get this in the comments fairly often, I am not proposing that we abandon worship services where all these MCs come together. I believe these are needed and valuable for sustaining the mission of these extended families. For more on this, read this post by clicking here.)