By Caleb Jones
Why Missional Communities?
It was a Sunday morning in the middle of the spring, and I’d already been at the school for a few hours. There were about 8 other people milling about as well, all scheduled to help set up our Sunday morning gathering. Charlie, my 5 year old, usually comes with me. Our Sunday morning routine is pretty set: Charlie and I will head out and Crystal, Ollie, and Cora hang at the house for a bit longer; I have worked out that it takes exactly 12 dollars and 85 cents for our family to run properly through the 5 hours that a Sunday morning takes - that’s the total cost of two sausage egg and cheese croissants and a pint of milk from Dunkin’ Donuts on the way to the school and two fountain drinks from a gas station on the way home. That’s what it takes to bribe Charlie out of the house to go with me on Sundays so that we all show up happy for worship (one of those croissants is for me, by the way). I love our Sunday morning routine.
Along with setup and playing music, I was preaching that week and the lead up to that had been incredible. When preaching, I wrestle with the text, confronting head on the areas where I don't measure up and ultimately begging and trusting that the Holy Spirit will speak to the people just as he has been faithful to do for me as I prepare. With multiple preachers at Coquina, I know the other guys are experiencing the same thing and I'm cheering them on! Despite how I was feeling, as people began filtering in that morning I started seeing this anxiety in some of their eyes as it looked like another Sunday where our numbers would be fewer than the week before. For me, I could see the weekly incremental growth: I saw our sung worship improving, our time of prayer growing, and our preaching was getting better. Please don't misunderstand - I’m not saying any of those areas are perfect, but the goal is to grow in those skills to glorify God and encourage the body, and I can see it happening. I’m also aware that there were a lot of things changing at Coquina, but in that change and uncertainty I was incredibly hopeful and optimistic about where God was allowing us to go.
Not long after that, it hit me. I have a unique 360 degree view of this body of Christ that other people literally can’t see. From what I can see, we are extending gospel hope and wholeness all across this city. As I looked around, I saw a church on mission. We were gathering in these naturally occurring communities where our everyday service was on display, and as a result this Church has built a long-earned, good reputation in our city. What goes on during the week is just as important to the health of the church as what goes on during our Sunday morning gathering. There are multiple gatherings throughout the week where the people of Coquina, people from other churches, those not in church, and those who openly do not follow Jesus are gathering together. In those gatherings Jesus was being made known! That’s who we are all week long, and we were allowing low attendance during 2 hours on Sunday to rob of us of our joy.
So how can we celebrate this properly? How can we grow these local missionaries? How can we make our Sunday gathering reflect a weekly missions conference for local missionaries, designed to give them rest in the joy we experience in gospel community when the whole body is gathered and equip them to multiply their mission throughout the week? First, we needed recognize our missional communities (we did that back in September) and then we needed to begin equipping our local missionaries. The next 12 weeks, we will be putting out weekly St. Blogustine posts on Monday with content that will help communicate and reaffirm our vision for Coquina, and guide our missional communities. This is meant to supplement our Sunday gatherings where we will continue to study the Bible book-by-book. On Sundays, we practice expository preaching - that is where we study the Bible to see what it will tell us. I have great faith that God will continue to be faithful to speak to us during our sung worship, prayer time, teaching, and comunion. St. Blogustine will hopefully help us think like missionaries while we live our everyday lives with gospel intentionality. Mission is a bit scary and sometimes you end up the only one speaking truth into a particular culture. In those moments, we want to equip you to beg and trust that the Holy Spirit will speak through you and to others.
Here are the topics we will hit over the next 12 weeks (order subject to change):
Who are the outcasts/misfits - every subculture, including the one you are trying to reach, has people in it that are marginalized.
Election of friendship - as God chooses us, what would it look like for us to choose people to befriend, no matter the outcome?
Relational invitation to worship - people overlook a lot of “weird” things when they come with you or for you to church.
This relationship is not an instrument! - avoiding using people.
This Church is not an Idol! - health check to make sure we are worshiping the savior and not the work we do for him.
Mission is scary - mission causes us to rely on the Holy Spirit.
Imago Dei - every person was made in the image of God, so everyone has the ability to proclaim who God is.
Advocacy - what does it mean to be an advocate for someone coming into your space?
No perfect church - there is no perfect church because then we wouldn’t need Jesus.
You Might be right - recognizing the belief elements of our faith.
Markers - when you enter into relationship with someone, you don’t look at a time table of change, but we can look for evidences of grace.
Missio Dei - the mission is from God.