Missional Communities

The Call to Lead: Missional Communities

This post is Part 2 of our The Call to Lead series. You can find Part 1 here.

Over the past couple of months, the staff and elders have been going through the book, Designed to Lead, by Eric Geiger and Kevin Peck. We have been talking and brainstorming lots about developing leaders within our church; for our church and for our city. We have been creating leadership development "pipelines" for each of our ministry areas.

Leadership Development

Todd Adkins, in reference to leadership development, says "a critical part of leadership is recognizing that your fruit grows on other people's trees." We hold this true, but we're not talking about harvesting where you haven't planted or some kind of winner-takes-all leadership model. I am talking about a style of leadership reproduction as the primary way to cultivate multiplication.

Every role in leadership is a temporary role, and every leader is not successful until they have developed at least one successor. In the Great Commission, Jesus calls us to "make disciples," not just to grow and develop ourselves. Paul also challenges church leaders not to do all the ministry themselves but to train and “equip the saints for the work of the ministry" (Eph. 4:12). Far too often in our society and sometimes in our churches, leadership is seen more as a position of power than a position of responsibility. Development takes time and effort. It must occur up close. Jesus rarely did the work of the ministry by Himself. Sure, He spent time alone, but when He ministered to people, His disciples were always nearby. He even gave them responsibility and space to lead. He shared responsibility.

Our "pipeline" for each ministry at New City looks like this:

Leadership Pipeline.jpg

Why Do MC's Need a Pipeline?

By God's grace, New City is growing! This is great news. We have welcomed so many new people into our family this summer (a time of the year that is slow for most churches). Most of our MC's are exploding in size; many of which have 30-40 people attending their gatherings each week. The intended size for an MC is 12-15 adults with room to welcome in outsiders. Long story short: we need to plant more MC's. To plant more MC's we need more leaders. 

Where Do We Go From Here?

As an MC leader, it is easy to take on the most responsibility and do everything yourself. This is painful and counterintuitive for everyone involved. We need to constantly be training and equipping others to lead and progress in their giftings. This requires us relinquishing control and stepping into life-on-life discipleship.

Our "pipeline" for Missional Communities is a plan of action for developing everyone into the person God has designed them to be. It is a plan to help everyone live their lives fully in light of the gospel. Our Missional Community pipeline looks like this:

MC Leadership Pipeline.jpg

This will look different for every person and not everyone will go through every level of the pipeline. We are simply wanting to create a model and plan to help us equip and develop everyone at New City into all God has created them to be. There is overlap in some of these pipeline levels; for example, an MC Host (Lead Servant) doesn't have to be equipped to facilitate sermon discussion time to host an MC gathering, but they certainly could be. So, don't feel limited within these categories. This is simply a way to streamline leadership development.

Implementing Pipelines and Leadership Development

The defining legacy of any leader is the quality of those you develop and your ability to transition out of your role -- at any time and for any reason. Whether sacred or secular, organizational leadership matters. We are called to equip the saints for the work of the ministry. If we do so, we will see unity in the body (Philippians 2), maturity measured in the fullness of Christ (Colossians 2) and a multiplication of disciples making disciples (Matt. 28:18-20) that hasn't been seen since the early church.

If you have any questions, please reach out to me and I will be happy to answer any questions or provide any help that I can.

A Story of Multiplication

When my wife and I lived in the Dominican Republic we developed relationships with several long-term missionaries there. In many places, missionaries come and go often; sometimes only for a couple of months at a time. This takes a toll on the long-term missionaries there because they develop family and share life with people only to see them leave months/years later. Even though people are leaving to go where God leads them, it is still difficult to see them go.

Multiplication within missional communities, much like relationships within foreign missions, is difficult and messy on nearly every level. It takes energy, emotion, and relationship. Ultimately, it means some of your dearest friends and those you have invested in the most leave you for something else. Despite this, we step into multiplication because the gospel is worth it and Jesus commands us to go and make disciples. For all of its difficulty, the sending of new communities is an incredible apologetic for the gospel to others. Brad Watson, equipping leader with Saturate, says in regards to planting new MC's that, "sending new people out means an increase in gospel demonstration and proclamation."

Brad Watson Quote.jpg

Multiplying missional communities requires multiplying leaders. The process of new MC's beginning in new neighborhoods begins with two or three leaders with a deep love for Jesus (who He is and what He has done) and a track record and/or desire for service (people who are leveraging their lives for others and the gospel).

Let me share a story with you. The Crosby MC began in 2016 with a small group of people willing to step into leadership and a vision for reaching the lost. With around 20 people in their community, they began to share life together; eat together, play together, and love together. This group began to grow and see more and more people come into their family. This meant more and more people were learning the truth of the gospel and seeing that truth transform their lives. This group grew to around 40 people within a years time. The Peek MC was planted from this group. Then, not long after, the Warner Robins MC and the Tattnall Square Park MC were planted. This month, the Peek MC has planted another MC. 

From that seemingly small beginning, we have seen five Missional Communities planted. Think about it this way: in 2016 there were 10 people in one MC and now in 2018 there are roughly 100 people in five separate but still connected MC's. This is now five groups doing mission in different places throughout Macon rather than only one group. Some are in their neighborhoods, others are in parks, while others are on mission to the businesses of downtown Macon. This is now five MC's who have space to invite outsiders into their homes, lives, and families rather than one. This is multiplication. This is gospel advancement. This is Kingdom work.

People are encountering Jesus for the first time. God is bringing His people back to Himself. He is redeeming and restoring what has been broken. Now is the time. Let's embrace our God-given identity and live as a family of missionary servants making disciples. Put your "yes" on the table and let's plant more Missional Communities and reach more people with the gospel of Jesus. Would you be willing to lead or host an MC? If so, let us know here. Do you want to go through our training this Fall to get a better idea of what it would look like for you to help lead? Email me. Multiplication is hard and messy at times but the reward is great!

With and For Our City. Local Mission(al Communities) Part 2

Last week I shared with you a post on our approach to local mission - through our Missional Communities and about how one MC was reaching out through Tattnall Square Park. This week I wanted to share with you another great outreach - teachers in a local school.

One of the members of the Brewer MC was a teacher last year at Burdell-Hunt Elementary School in Fort Hill. Teaching is a tough task. Teaching in one of Macon's poorest neighborhoods is often even tougher. So the Brewer MC adopted the teachers of Burdell-Hunt. When the Principal heard New City wanted to partner with teachers, she was thrilled! So last week the Brewer MC kicked off its outreach to Burdell-Hunt and on Thursday took a car load of goodies, school supplies and cards of encouragement for the teachers.

Here are a few of the things the MC is hoping to do over the school year:
* More snacks and goodies for the teachers regularly throughout the year
* More cards of prayers and encouragement for the teachers
* Supplies for students and classrooms throughout the year
* Prayer! At each MC gathering and individually throughout the week

There has even been some talk about a teacher appreciation Sunday, a holiday luncheon provided by us for the school teachers, help for student families at Christmas, and a readiness to help in any way possible.

The Brewer MC wants the teachers to know that they are prayed for, cared for, and appreciated. Our teachers matter and their work is difficult. Their work is significant to the health and well being of our city!
The Brewer MC is hoping that this outreach grows into new relationships with the school and teachers and that maybe through those relationship Jesus would be made known!

That's good stuff!

The Blessing and Challenge of Leading as Couples

Photo:  Emmaus Church

Something that may be different for you the first time that you visit a New City Missional Community is that husbands and wives lead the MC. We believe that the unique gifts that the Holy Spirit imparts to individuals are to be used within community. Husbands and wives often have differing stories in how they met Christ and unique experiences they have walked through during their spiritual journey. These gifts and experiences culminate into leaders who disciple and train others to disciple.

What does it look like to lead a missional community together as a couple? Drew and Lindsay Webster share how they have been able to utilize each other’s unique strengths and perspectives as they lead together, engaging with their neighbors in ways that they would not be able to do on their own. They have found it important to be open with their missional community about challenges in their marriage as they seek to rely upon Jesus and their community in their leadership. - Saturate

The Gospel Isn't a Cul-de-sac

The cul-de-sac was a phenomenal invention for the suburbs.

It created a safe and peaceful place for families to raise children.

No one passed through. In fact, the only time strangers can appear is after a wrong turn and they find themselves at the dead end. The design made it simple for those who don’t belong to quickly turn around.

It also kept everyone who belonged there in one place. Once you came in, you didn’t have to leave. You could remain the rest of your days with likeminded folks, playing games in your asphalt sanctuary.

The cul-de-sac is the epitome of the suburban life and vaues. However, the gospel is not a cul-de-sac. It isn’t a safe sanctuary that separates you from the dangers of the world—it throws you into the world. It isn’t your private enclave to secure your values and doctrines. It ushers you into a hospitality for the other—the not like you.  The gospel is doctrinal, changing what we believe. It also is personal, changing who we are. But it is more than that.

THE GOSPEL IS MISSIONAL: IT CHANGES WHERE & HOW WE LIVE.

If we just focus on the doctrinal and personal aspect of the gospel, we will neglect its missional aspect. If the doctrinal gospel changes what we believe, and the personal gospel changes who we are, then the missional gospel changes where we live and what we say. It is the hopeful announcement that God is making all things new in Christ Jesus! The gospel ushers us into a new kingdom and new world. We no longer live in a world dominated by death and deconstruction but one of life and re-creation!

“The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim liberty to the captives and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.” —Luke 4:18-19, Isaiah 61

THE GOSPEL CHANGES EVERYTHING

The gospel changes everything. It is not only good news for us, but also for our neighbors, the poor, our city, and the world. It affects the social, cultural, and physical fabric of the universe. In Luke 4, Jesus preached the gospel to the poor, marginalized, and oppressed. It is good news for them because through his death and resurrection he has defeated sin, death, and evil (1 Jn. 2:13; 3:8). The gospel announces the in-breaking reign of Jesus, which is in the process of reversing the order of things. The poor become rich, the captives are freed, and the old become new.

THE GOSPEL SENDS US ON MISSION

Those who follow Jesus join his mission by making disciples of all ethnic groups by going, teaching, and baptizing (Matt. 28:18-20). We are sent to teach, speak, counsel, discuss, and proclaim the gospel to others so that they might be baptized into God’s new creation and join his mission of making all things new. We are called “ambassadors of reconciliation” and given the privilege of sharing in Jesus’ ministry of reconciling the world to himself (2 Cor. 5:17-20). Those who have been changed by the gospel share its life-changing power with others. We should announce and embody the good news by caring for the poor and rebuilding cities (Is. 61:4). In fact, the future for the people of God is an entirely new city in a new creation (Rev. 21). The church should be a movie trailer of this grand, coming attraction, when all things will be made new!

REMEMBER, THIS IS WHO YOU ARE

The result of the church—you, us—being sent is that we live as a community of disciples—not only devoted to Jesus and to one another—but devoted to our neighbors and our city, too. When we come to Christ, we are all sent on his mission.

We are new and have a new purpose. Christ reconciled us to himself and we are a new creation. Our old way of finding identity and our broken ways of finding meaning are over. We are reconciled and ushered into a vibrant and living relationship with God. This is the gospel, that Christ has reconciled us to God through his death and resurrection and is making all things new—even us. We are recipients of the gospel, messengers of the gospel, servants of the gospel, and are representatives of the gospel’s work. See, you cannot separate our identity in Christ from our purpose in Christ. That identity and purpose requires some sort of expression of gospel focused community on mission:

  • We live on mission because we have received the gospel.
  • We live on mission because we are messengers of the gospel. He is making his appeal to the world through us.
  • We live on mission because we are ministers of reconciliation—servants of the gospel.
  • We live on mission because we are ambassadors—representatives of the gospel.

Children & Missional Communities

One of the questions I am often asked of people interested in joining a Missional Community at New City is, "What do we do with our kids?" It is often asked as if a family had attended a small group before coming to New City, but there was some resistance for children to attend. 

At New City, children are a blessing and most of our Missional Communities are filled with 'challenging' blessings. As I have trained new MC Leaders, this is also a common question, "What do we do with kids?" Jayne Vanderstelt unpacks this common question like this:

Keep in mind, when we think about children and our missional community, we ask: How can our children join us in the overall mission? How do we disciple them all week long? How do we make sure the mission is accessible for them? How do we ensure they can participate? How do we help them reach their peers as well?
When we think about our gathering on Tuesday nights, we don’t feel like we have to address all of these in our 2–3-hour time together. We address these through the whole-week approach.

Stepping back from the once a week, 2-hour Family Gathering, the question really needs to be asked from an all of life perspective in order to help us understand how to handle kids during the weekly event. If an MC is intentionally doing life together in community, children will be discipled during the normal course of the week. This could include family devotional times, meeting with other families at the park, enjoying meals together, and even recreational sports.

Our children also should be included in our monthly Third Place activities as well as the Missional Focus that the MC is engaging. This gives parents an opportunity to not only talk about their lives as a family of missionary servants, but to show them that their daily lives are fully engaged in practical life practice. Most children, like many adults, learn best by combining action and words. Incorporating our children into regular rhythms of loving and serving others allows them to grow up in community and increases their value of it.

When we look at the specific Family Gathering, we need to be very intentional with our time. We are intentional about meal planning, finding childcare, crafting questions and inviting, so we need to be intentional with our children. Here are a few ways that will help in blending children into the MC Family Gathering.

  1. Time – Start and stop on time. Not only does this respect the time of your MC, but it also helps to clarify the time frame that the children’s time needs to be planned. Typically, the MC conversation lasts 45 min. to an hour long, so that is about how long kids will be separate from the adults. 
  2. Variety – Normally we have children of a variety of age groups, so planning one activity to engage every age is difficult. Also, if the kids do the same thing every week, boredom will quickly set in and intentional discipleship time could be wasted. I have found that coming up with a rotation (stations) is extremely helpful in keeping kids engaged, and providing a structure for the childcare worker to work from. A rotation doesn’t have to be super complicated and can include a bible story, watching a short video, coloring, free play, outside games, a craft, etc.
  3. Place – While we encourage our MC’s to keep their kids with them during the meal time and some can even enjoy the other activities that MC’s often incorporate into their Gathering such as prayer time, music and even hearing someone’s Story, it’s important to for them to have a space of their own. This could be an extra bedroom, a separate living room, or even a tent in the backyard where kid's can play, watch, read or work on crafts.

Children can be an important part of a Missional Community, not a hindrance that must be endured. Children in community have the unique opportunity to see their parents living out their faith, so clear pathways for them to engage is important. Having someone who can spend time with the kids instead of a parent, allows parents to fully engage in the conversation and for some, give a much needed break from a difficult week.

Remember that you are not being stuck back with the kids, that your discussions are NOT superior and more important than your interactions with these young ones. You can’t look at these kids as a hindrance or interruption. They need to be taught and guided, and sometimes, depending on their ages, this needs to be done in a separate area of the house so they can best learn and engage. It is an honor and privilege to pray for, prepare lessons for, and to hang out with them.
Most of the obstacles in our own group have been not logistics but a heart issue. I have totally struggled with this in the past, which is why I feel I can speak into it. My heart in the past has looked down on this task and looked at it as overwhelming and “not fair” that I am always “stuck” with figuring it out. I am ashamed of that—but thank you, Jesus, for interrupting my thoughts and forgiving this sin, revealing to me this is a situation to embrace, not “solve.” Hopefully, by the grace of God after a little teaching to your adults, you will have people arguing about who gets to be with the kids next. I will pray you will see that happen.

If you are new to New City and considering joining a Missional Community, know that your children are welcome, planned for, and engaged with. If you would like help in getting plugged in, contact Patrick at patrick@newcitymacon.org.

(adapted from Jayne Vanderstelt’s article posted at saturatetheworld.com)

New City Planting a Missional Community in the Dominican Republic

Caleb and Hanna Bedingfield are leaving Macon in August... but they aren't leaving New City! Here's where they're headed, a little on how we're already a part of this journey and more on how you might help!


We have always had a love for the mission field. It’s something that defines who we are as a couple. We have been blessed with the incredible opportunity to serve many times in numerous countries. We have a deep love for the Gospel and a desire to see the light of Christ shown into the nations. We also have a strong desire to raise up passionate Christ-followers who are committed to serving the Lord on His awesome mission.

This August, we will be moving to the city of Juan Dolio in the Dominican Republic to serve as Student Life Directors for the GAP Program with SCORE International. SCORE is an organization that seeks to evangelize the lost, engage people in missions, equip disciples, and encourage others through serving. The GAP year is a program for high school graduates who will live and study in the Dominican Republic; it’s designed to provide students with the opportunity to become fluent in Spanish, study theology and missions, be immersed in the Hispanic Culture, be discipled in a Missional Community setting, as well as experience what it is like to be a missionary. We will personally be responsible for life-on-life discipleship, mentorship and accountability with these students as well as helping them adjust to a new culture and way of life.

Throughout the past 6 months God has been preparing our hearts for what, at the time, was unknown. We have been going through New City’s training MC under Patrick McConnell’s leadership for the past 17 weeks with the hopes of launching a new MC as leaders for New City. This training has reshaped the way we both see the gospel, given us a passion for building genuine community, and lit a fire in us to live on mission in the day-to-day. We have to admit, when Patrick approached us about becoming MC leaders, we were thrilled. Little did we know, God was using this training to prepare us to essentially launch an MC in the Dominican Republic this Fall. Missional Communities have been a catalyst behind our faith and we see the gospel spreading, the global church growing, and disciples being made through the community that MC’s build.

We have some specific needs as we go on mission to the Dominican:
1.    We need your prayers.
•    94% of the Dominican Republic people are professing Christians with only 9% of them being Evangelical. Pray that the gospel will break down the walls of false religion and legalism and that their eyes will be opened to the glorious grace found in the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Pray for boldness and clarity as we share the Gospel.
•    Pray that healthy, meaningful and God-honoring relationships form with the locals as well as with the students we will be leading and mentoring.
•    Also, please join us in praying that our transition into a new culture and into full-time ministry will be smooth. Life will be very different living in the DR, it will mean the world to have your prayers and encouragement as we move and adjust.

2.    We need financial support.
We are asking you to consider partnering with us financially by supporting us monthly or by giving us a one time gift. You can easily donate to us online HERE -  just put either or both of our name(s) in the info box.

“Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful. And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.” Hebrews 10:23-25


The New City, Macon Elder Team has already committed to supporting Caleb and Hanna as they work in the DR!  We are excited for them, excited about what God will be doing in and through them and excited to see what opportunities we might have as a church to travel to the DR and work with the Bedingfields!