A couple weeks ago I woke up, ate breakfast with the family, and walked my son to elementary school. From there, my 3-year old daughter and I walked to the local cafe, as we usually do. After properly caffeinating, I responded to a few emails, texted a new friend to hang out, and got to know the person sitting next to me. He shared his story, and I shared mine. Then walking home, I prayed for those we had bumped into that day, as well as those whose houses we were walking past.
In the evening, our family headed to a neighborhood holiday party where I offered my services as hot chocolate extraordinaire.
Without question, I have the best job ever.
But, what am I actually doing?
Living as a missionary, starting missional communities, and growing churches is a nebulous process, especially as we get started. We need ways to make missional living more concrete, both to keep ourselves focused and to communicate to others what we’re up to.
We all agree that God is the one who brings about the fruit, and our role is to be faithful. The question then becomes, what is God asking us to be faithful to, and what is he asking us to have faith for?
For us, we committed ourselves to prayer, meeting people, hearing their stories, connecting with other ministries, and spending time with neighbors. Next, we looked at our capacity and the amount of time we had. As a part-time church planter, we settled on the following:
Praying 6 hours a week. Most of this time is spent walking the dog or sitting on my front porch. I’m asking questions like, “Where is God already at work? Who is God drawing towards himself?” Then, I have a list of people in my journal – neighbors and supporters – that I read through and pray for.
Meeting 4 people each week. Knowing someone’s name is the first step to building a friendship. It’s a lot of new people, and so I really have to make an effort to remember. I write it down in my phone. It’s not fancy, but it works.
Hearing 2 stories each week. As we listen to people, we bring connection and healing; it also helps us to know how we can actually be good news to the people here. Listening moves from a theoretical discussion to discerning how we can serve real people.
Connecting with 1 other minister each week. As we get to know the heart of our neighbors, we can then also discern how our neighborhood can be good news to our city as a whole. Getting to know others in different ministries or non-profits doing good work in the city gives us a place to plug into. And it gives us ways we can dream about addressing some of the systemic injustices in our city.
Being part of a gathering every other week. If one of our aims is to build relationships, we need to be with people. We need to become part of the community, doing the types of things our neighbors do. For us, that means we go to block parties, attend PTA meetings, go out with friends, and walk the dog. We’ve learned (and loved) that brunch is a big deal in our city. So, in the future, we want to host regular brunch parties.
Praying for a core group of 10. This one is a “have faith for” issue. And it’s something we’re praying towards. God knows who our group is, and it’s our job to pray for them and to seek out who these people might be.
In the last three months, the Lord has already used these rhythms to bring about fruit. When we walk somewhere in town, we bump into people we know and we can say hi by name. The stories I’ve heard have included the joys and struggles of career and family, a love for our neighborhood, and longing for people to find true rest and relationships. The other ministries in our city have a wealth of knowledge and ways for people to get involved. Already, others have reached out to them to see how they can serve. And, we’ve been part of some of the best block parties around.
If we take these rhythms and turn them into annual metrics, here’s what you’ll potentially have: 300 hours of prayer, 200 names, 100 stories, 50 potential partners, and 25 gatherings, and by the end of the year, Lord willing, a core group of 10.
How do you create your own missional metrics?
- Look at your capacity in terms of time you have in a given week/month.
- Think, pray, and brainstorm what types of rhythms God is asking you to be faithful to.
- Pick 3-6 of these rhythms/metrics and map them out into your week.
- Go out and do it!
- Evaluate and re-plan 3, 6, and 12 months in.
What are the things God is calling you to be faithful to? What rhythms could you commit to?
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