What we really need to do is hear from the Lord and let his Spirit show us the way. He has shaped us in particular ways, and he has already been at work, preparing the harvest fields. Missional communities cannot simply be a good idea or a new program. They must be rooted in vision for mission and a passion birthed in the heart of a leader though prayer.
Consider this passage from Acts 16:6-10:
Paul and his companions traveled throughout the region of Phrygia and Galatia, having been kept by the Holy Spirit from preaching the word in the province of Asia. When they came to the border of Mysia, they tried to enter Bithynia, but the Spirit of Jesus would not allow them to. So they passed by Mysia and went down to Troas. During the night Paul had a vision of a man of Macedonia standing and begging him, “Come over to Macedonia and help us.” After Paul had seen the vision, we got ready at once to leave for Macedonia, concluding that God had called us to preach the gospel to them.
The reason Paul was traveling in the first place was because of his passion to see the good news of Jesus reach those far away from his home base of Antioch. In the course of working out this vision, it seems obvious that Paul had a plan of going into Mysia, but he was sensitive enough to the Spirit to know when his good idea needed to end because the Spirit had better perspective on what doors were actually open and what was actually needed.
As we look to launch missional communities, that has to be a bedrock belief. We have to honestly believe that apart from the Spirit, we can do nothing. Our ideas, intellect, plans and hopes are worthless if done without the Spirit’s leading. What we’ve seen in America’s über-entrepreneurial culture is that this can be a hard lesson to learn (sometimes it’s the failure of a missional community that does it for us).
So if we could advise anything from the beginning, it would be to take time to seek the leading of God’s Spirit for the vision of your missional community and allow him to shape where you’re being sent and how the vision will incarnate itself in that context.
We said earlier that if the missional community is the missional vehicle, then discipleship is the engine. We might also say that the Holy Spirit is the fuel in the engine, and prayer is the internal combustion that makes the whole thing go!
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