The Story of LoveFirst Coast/First Coast Missional Communities (so far) – March 2017 version
In the Spring of 2013, God pulled together about twenty people from five different churches. We had several things in common. Many of us had been inspired by followers of Jesus we’d met on mission trips. We earnestly desired to see Christ change lives and renew our city. We had heard that God was doing that in other places through groups called missional communities. And we were willing to try. We agreed to meet for a season and we organized our life around worship, prayer, fellowship, and mission. This temporary micro-church was a “trial missional community”. We learned a lot about ourselves, our neighbors, and how to (and how not to) be a missional community. We also discovered strength in community, how to be more natural and more public with our faith, more courageous in prayer, more adventurous in service, and how good God is.
After our season together, about half who’d been with us returned to participation in their home churches. But the experience had a deep impact: we still valued our connections to traditional local churches but we could not return to church as usual. We committed to journeying together, devoted simply to blessing our neighbors and serving in our city. As our ministry became established, the administrative load became lighter, and the leadership for the ministry was shared. Eventually, our pastor was able to become “bi-vocational”, working a day job while continuing to lead our church.
We began developing rhythms of doing life together around fellowship and worship, discipleship and mission. Sundays, many of us engaged in local congregations, intent on being a blessing. (A number of us have painful church experiences in our background – but we have chosen to be a blessing to other churches). During the week, we served. Some of us served together. Midweek, we gathered in “huddles” to learn tools and skills for discipleship, to encourage one another, to pray, and to “spur one another on to love and good deeds.” (Heb 10:25). One Saturday a month, we gathered for worship.
We have begun developing traditions, too: retreats, prayer services, home gatherings, and a Good Friday sunrise worship gathering. And then there are the “organic activities”: neighborhood parties, game nights, prayer walks, going to movies, and sports events. At most gatherings, there is good food, good coffee, and celebration of being together. In short, it is a lot like following Jesus with an extended family that is supportive and intentional. And we enjoy being a family that welcomes new family members.
This lifestyle is enabling us to become more natural as followers of Jesus. We are learning to be disciples of Jesus who make disciples. Even better, we are growing to appreciate in a fresh way God’s greatness and love. We are learning, with thanksgiving, that apart from God, we can do nothing.
We are a small group. We are keenly aware of that we are being redeemed, forgiven, blessed, and healed through the love, grace and mercy of God! And with joy we can continue to report that what God has been doing for us we are seeing God do through us.