By Beth Falkenstein, an Advocate for The Sending Project
I've been a part of a missional community for a little more than two years, and I have spent a lot of time trying to figure out what our community looks like. And what missional community looks like at all, for that matter. After hours of conversation, and many illustrations, comparisons and attempts to clarify, we believe it looks different in each community. There is no set shape or mission.
In my experience, missional community in concept has been lived out as a “beautiful disaster.” At least that's how we've experienced it in the Oak Park Community—in reference to a Kansas City, Missouri neighborhood, not the mall.
Let me clarify. I don't mean disaster as in horrible; that's where the beautiful part comes in.
We all are broken people, seeking to follow God in obedience in our lives and desiring to learn to love Him and others well. None of us do that perfectly. When people, even Christians, decide to come together from very different places and backgrounds, along some common ground, it takes time to work through those differences. It takes time to build true, lasting relationships. Especially when those involved all decide to live in close proximity, it can be a mess. But the beauty of grace is amazing. Things take root, and someday plants will grow. Roots have been a common theme in the Oak Park Community.
It's fun to see the sprouts of community coming from the roots. We’ve seen a slow acceptance in the neighborhood and a building of real trust and reciprocal relationships. People are beginning to live out of their faith as they embody those things for which they are passionate.
We’ve seen healing of hearts and new life. We’ve been part of celebration meals with community, neighbors and church members, all of whom have become friends. The beginnings of a garden have taken old, as abandoned parking lots have become land that produces food for the community. Friendships have been established with neighborhood children and their mothers. These are all little green sprouts of community, and the plants they will become is something we all look forward to seeing.
There are too many stories to take the time and space to tell them, and sometimes it's best to let them not be specific because they're not our stories to tell. Also, each story represents many other stories, not just in Oak Park Community but across Kansas City in other missional communities.
I fear exploiting my friends for stories, and I haven't found a healthy balance yet. I'm inviting you into the tension I feel. I know too well that stories will pull at my heart strings, but my tendency is to go back to my life as it was before.
But in this community in urban Kansas City, there is beauty and life that many do not see. The evening news does not show it, and it is not being brought there by a missional community. We have just been blessed to join in with what God is already doing.
The story is that God is moving, and we all have a chance to join Him in what He's doing.
Posted on Fri, September 2, 2011
by Eric Rochester