Today’s entry is by guest blogger, Dr. Parnell Lovelace.
I enjoy watching our local, predominantly African American, urban-centered congregation grow and embrace the beauty of missional communities. In the past, I often wrestled with how a growing congregation of our size and demographic could strengthen healthy and meaningful relationships beyond the weekend church services. For years, I believed that “city-dwellers” would avoid consistent social interaction and connection at all costs. It became apparent that the larger the church became, the less connection there was within our church family. Two things sparked a realization of our need to embrace missional communities:
1. Reading the book Missional Journey, authored by Bob Logan.
2. Observing the congregation praying together in small prayer circles of 3-4 people each weekend.
There is also a third element that reinforces my belief that missional communities are vital to the health of a vibrant church. I choose to call it the love language of missional thinking. It does not necessarily require deep theoretical thinking and external constructs, but it does pay attention to what is working in a congregation that does not naturally embrace smaller groups as a means of disciple-making and church building. The love words that have affirmed the efficacy of missional thinking in our church include:
2. Diversity (ethnic, social, cultural, economic)
5. Courage (leaving room to be afraid and space to grow beyond fear that separates)
7. Biblical basis (embracing versus mastering the text)
9. Sharing (realizing we are not alone on this journey)
10. Simplicity (removing the barriers of complex systems that are difficult to navigate)
As in any meaningful relationship in our lives (i.e. spouse, children, friends), the above concepts bring depth and provide momentum to the relationship. These same concepts hold true in providing depth and motivation for connection within a Christ-centered missional community.
Parnell M. Lovelace, Jr., MSW, D.Min.
Lovelace Leadership Connection
Rancho Cordova, California
As the successful founding pastor of 3,000-member Center of Praise Ministries in Sacramento, California, Parnell M. Lovelace, Jr. now serves as an apostolic strategist, merging the church with the social constructs of urban community. He holds a Bachelor of Social Work degree from Oral Roberts University, a Master of Social Work degree from the University of Oklahoma, a Master of Practical Theology degree from Oral Roberts University, and a D.Min. degree from Biola University (Talbot School of Theology). Dr. Lovelace currently serves on the Board of Trustees at William Jessup University and is a certified church consultant with the Society for Church Consulting.