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Breakout - mission shaped communities

A couple of posts ago I referred to a book called Breakout, which tells the story of St Andrews Chorleywood.  During a time of building renovation their people separated into what they called MSC's or mission shaped communities undertaking mission in a variety of ways in their surrounding community.  Now you might wonder whether what happened in a large church of several hundred could be encouraging for us as a small church.  Well the way they started is not limited by size:

The Lord had shown us that if our MSC's were to be authentic they had to be vision-led; this was grass-roots and bottom-up as a strategy.  This meant that new leaders had to come to us.  Having been asked the question 'What is the Lord saying to you?' almost all our fledgling MSC's began with a slightly nervous member of our church family making a telephone call or writing an email or coming up to us in the street saying, 'I think the Lord has been speaking to me.'  And as they spoke of what the Lord had laid upon their hearts we glimpsed the beginnnings of a new adventure in mission.  We were also able to link them with other church members who had come to us and spoken in similar terms.  All over Chorleywood and the surrounding area there were prayer meetings breaking out as new leadership teams were getting together for the first time and seeking the Lord for their MSC. (p 87)

Now in a small church, we will start with a smaller number of mission initiatives.  But again the diversity of mission groups that sprung up can help us to be open to hearing from God about a range of mission ideas:

Around these leaders' visions for mission we were able to direct our people and slowly and surely the lifeboats were built and filled.  This meant that the MSC map was more diverse and more creative than we could have conceived or planned.  We had MSC's for the youth, for the elderly, for the deaf community, for many different neighbourhoods and communities.  We had MSC's planning to meet in Starbucks, community halls, school halls, Scout huts, in the midst of car boot sales .....

Listening to God, being open to His creativity, releasing people into ministry and mission, praying, and having a go - any size church can do that!

David Wanstall, 05/08/2009