Missional Communities A United Methodist Experiment in Creating New Places for New People in Alaska
Definitions Missional Community – Group of 20 to 50 people who are united, through Christian community, around a common service and witness to a particular neighborhood or network of relationships. MC’s gather regularly in their missional settings and participants’ homes for worship, study, food, sharing, sacraments, service, and fun. Their central focus besides the triune God is MISSION. Their mission drives everything. Most MC’s are linked to an Anchor church which provides prayer support, accounting services, and occasional celebration events in the mission field area.
How are MC’s different from Attractional Churches? Missional Communities do not have buildings or clergy to support. They have flexibility to move and adapt to a changing neighborhood. Pastors do provide leadership but they are bivocational, i.e., they have other work that supports their living expenses. People do not join an MC the same way they would join a church. Progress is not always measured by numbers, but by real people being transformed by the Holy Spirit.
Both models are needed!! Missional Communities are NOT a replacement of Attractional Churches. This MC movement does not seek to save the institutional church, but to reintroduce the Early Church and Early Wesleyan forms of spiritual formation and mission within the context of people's actual lives.
Leadership Lead Teams are as diverse as possible. They share in the leadership of the MC. They live by a Rhythm of Life (A covenant with other Lead Team members to pray, read scripture, serve others.) They meet regularly as a Lead Team for support and to hold one another accountable. A LEAD team provides leadership for an MC.
Anchor Church Anchor Churches are not asked to support the MC with finances. Anchor Churches do encourage the MC with prayer and occasional neighborhood celebration events. Anchor Churches provide accounting services for the MC’s offerings. Anchor Church pastors are encouraged to live by the same rhythm of life as the Lead team. Most MC’s are linked with one or more Anchor Churches.
Academy for Missional Wisdom Seven Alaskan UM’s are in the second year of this program. Consists of short retreats in Anchorage, several six week online courses that include reading a book, 3 page reflection paper, scripture, prayer, and online forums. Examples of new MC’s to be started or already in progress: PLUME in MatSu valley: Sutton UAA Campus Ministry Juneau Anchorage Soldotna Two year training program for laity and clergy to serve as leaders of new MC’s.
Academy for Missional Wisdom AUMC is negotiating with AMW about doing a shortened version of the Academy. AMW will do the first year which deals with the theological and biblical foundations. AMW will train Alaskans to serve as coaches to provide guidance during the second year of implementation of a new MC. No lone rangers! Tuition cost is $2000 excluding travel. Plan is to fully fund tuition costs for all participants in second cohort. Second cohort of Alaskans will begin January, 2013.
Permission to Imagine God’s Realm Coming to Alaska What kinds of Missional Communities of Faith could you imagine in Alaska? Where would this happen next? Is God stirring your heart to consider this leadership challenge and adventure of faith?