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Maundy Thursday

Gather and Go: Jesus’ Invitation to Missional Community
Pastor Greg Finke
Imagine missionaries from all around Nepal, Ghana, or Indonesia coming together on a regular basis to share the stories of what they have seen God doing in their mission fields. Imagine them having the opportunity to share with each other what they are learning through trial and error – both what is working and what is not working. Imagine the support, insight, and positive accountability the missionaries would receive gathering like this.

With a little help from their friends, the missionaries would have their batteries recharged, their missional toolbox restocked, and their hearts refilled. Of course, they are well aware that their mission is not fulfilled as they meet with the other missionaries. They know their mission can only be carried out in the mission field.
Now imagine such missionary gatherings happening not just across a foreign country but across a local community. Imagine local missionaries coming together regularly from their neighborhoods, workplaces, and schools for support, encouragement, insight, and accountability. The exciting news is that these gatherings are happening across North America in increasing numbers! And you can be a part of one!
I call these gatherings of local missionaries “missional communities.” I define a missional community like this: A smaller group of people who gather regularly in order to support each other as they learn to seek, recognize, and respond to what Jesus is doing around them every day as he carries out his redemptive mission.
When people start to see their daily lives as a mission trip and then participate in a missional community for support, insight, and accountability, I see them quickly gaining insight and confidence in how to join Jesus on his mission. Every once in a while, when people hear me talking about missional communities, they think they hear me saying we should replace Sunday worship with midweek missional communities. Let me be clear, I advocate BOTH. It is my observation that the congregations who have BOTH vibrant Sunday worship AND vibrant missional communities are the congregations seeing the most growth – spiritually, missionally, and numerically.
Throughout time, the rhythm of God’s people has been to gather and then go, to come together for worship and Bible teaching and then go out for life and mission, to gather for Word and sacraments and then scatter into the harvest fields. Separating worship and Bible teaching from mission and Bible doing makes no more sense than separating eating and exercising. Eating without exercising make a person fat. Exercising without eating makes a person starve. In the same way, I advocate BOTH coming for worship AND going for mission.
Why is the missional community essential to our missionary lifestyle? It is not just the gathering, but why we gather and what we do while we are together. The reason we gather is specifically to support each other as we learn how to seek and respond to what Jesus is doing redemptively in the lives of people around us.
What I have learned over the years is that the key to people staying intentional and inspired for long-term missional living is the hearing and telling of our stories. Our mission stories reinforce our mission-values, our mission-values reinforce our mission-practices, and our mission-practices ensure that there are more mission-stories to tell.
Mission doesn’t happen in our missional community,
but mission doesn’t last without our missional community.