Over the last several weeks, really since moving Veritas into our home, I have become convinced that we made the right, but tough decision. Conversation after conversation has confirmed it to me. If our vision and mission is to be a missional community of authentic worshippers we need to start at a different place than most church plants start. Or should I say we need to start over from a different place. What do I mean by that? Well...back in April I read the book "AND: The Gathered and the Scattered Church" by Hugh Halter and Matt Smay. I also had seen Hugh in Harrisburg in March, and also again in April at the Exponential Conference. They shared something in the book and the two times that I heard them that they call Missional Flow. The idea of Missional Flow has given me words for how we, as Veritas, want to proceed as we continue moving forward in planting Veritas.
A tradition church and church plant starts with the structuring of Congregation. Normally when we talk about planting churches what do we mean? I believe it means we talk about planting a worship service. And if our worship service is cooler, hipper, sexier, and have better coffee...we might attract a crowd (mostly of people either who are new to the area and looking for a church, or for people tired of their church...basically transfer growth.). But if we want to connect with people who might not be looking for a church we have to start in a different place. The place where a missionary would start.
If you and I and say 8 other people moved to, say London, in order to plant a community of faith, what would be the first thing that we would do when we hit the ground (besides getting jobs, places to live, etc..)? I believe we would need to Engage Culture (or build relationships, friends, etc..). Once we begin to do that (probably after several months to a year or two) we would need to Form Community. And then finally we would Structure Congregation. These three things are Missional Flow.
As a brand new Church Plant back in September of 2009 we started with Structuring Congregation (and hoping to then Engage Culture and have the culture come to us). Now it was beneficial in that we did build some relationships with people who we wouldn't have met otherwise and they have continued to be a faithful part of our community ever since. But I began to realize that we needed to start with Engaging the Culture if we truly wanted to live out our vision of being A Missional Community of Authentic Worshippers.
So how do we Engage Culture? We are wrestling with this together in our Worship Gathering times at my house. I have walked our group through Missional Flow (and will again on our Core Group development time on Feb. 6). We'll be using something called a Ministry Brainstorming Tool found at http://www.gabaptist.org/groups/researchservices/groupfilecabinet.aspx?parentnavigationid=6267&theparentnavigationid=4955 under church surveys. I'll also be sharing a dream/vision of how our group (of musicians, college students, artists, and others) can engage culture by using the arts and music. Something that I call The Veritas Arts Collective.
I'll be sharing more in the near future about what the Veritas Arts Collective looks like (in my head anyway). I'll also share in the near future about ways that we are already engaging culture and other ideas of how we might do that. For now, I am excited about the ideas and hopes and dreams I have for our community as we walk together through the missional flow.