The following is a guest post from Jason Evans, Missioner for Missional Communities for the Episcopal Diocese of Texas, and is used with permission.
Often, I hear questions such as,
“Is this a fresh expression?”
“Is that a missional community?”
“Is this a church plant?”
I tend to think that categories with more elasticity are better than more categories. I care very little about what category a new start falls into. I care much more about it’s basic structure. Every new community, in order to be healthy, requires certain components that are spiritual, relational and missional. Neil Cole calls it DNA: divine truth, nurturing relationships, apostolic impulse. Throughout Church history, these attributes show up in Christian movements that have renewed and recentered the wider Church.
In the Church, we tend to have two broad categories for leaders: laity and clergy. Of course, there are a variety of nuances and vocations in both categories but I wonder if we need another one. A category for those that start.
In the UK, the Church Mission Society call these people “pioneers” and they can be either lay people or clergy. Like I said before, I care very little about what the label is, but it would seem that we could use another category in the Church. Why? Because the “DNA” of someone that starts things is different.
A starter is someone that is primarily motivated by an evangelistic impulse; they want to create Christian community for those that otherwise wouldn’t participate in another church. They have vision; they can see what isn’t there yet.
And they start things.
With or without funding, permission or authority, they start. They come to us as lay persons and ordained people. They come in all shapes and sizes, ages and abilities. We need more of them.