Tuesday, May 31, 2011

The Well: The Vision for a Missional Community

The Well…Creating an Intentional Community

There is a hole in our sociological life that is also causing a hole in our spiritual lives. With the increasingly transient nature of our jobs and lifestyles we have reduced our relationship support circles from having twenty to fifty people in them, to often as few as two. Just a couple of decades ago it would not be uncommon for most of us to have close ties and live in close proximity to our extended family. The way I explain it to people is I challenge them to list fifteen to twenty people they could call at 1 am to pick them up on the side of the road if their tire went flat. Most of us can get to about four, maybe ten, but then we essentially run out of relationships that are both close enough to us emotionally and geographically to make that possible. What has happened?

We have lost our extended family due to our geographical migrations. The more you move, the fewer close relationships you are likely to have because it simply hurts to have to leave those you love. We tend to isolate and insulate ourselves from this type of relational pain. The desire to avoid the pain also keeps us from being in intentional community, and meaningful relationships with others. While it may seem like a workable strategy, in the long run we suffer from it.

Humans are “tribal” people. We thrive in tribes, or groups or twenty to fifty. We find balance, have places to check out our crazy ideas, and even share resources inside of our “tribe.” We raise children better in “tribes.” It doesn’t take a village to raise a child, it takes a tribe. Most importantly, we grow spiritually best in the context of a tribe. When twenty to fifty people surround us that know, love, and trust us, we can explore our spiritual life at a deeper level. We open ourselves up to new levels of accountability and vulnerability because we have a community that will hold us up to live at a new level and hold us together if our life falls apart.

The idea of The Well, that illusive “third place” that I have written about over the past couple of years is centered around the idea of creating a place that creates “tribes,” or missional communities. It would be built around the concept of creating intentional missional communities of twenty to fifty that learn, love, and lean on each other and that would unite and worship with other “tribes” in weekly celebrations. Each tribe would also have two to three smaller groups within it to foster deeper learning and higher accountability.

Below is a video that highlights these types of communities as central means of creating both spiritual formation systems and missional action. I look forward to your reflections and comments. I remain:

Consumed by the Call,

Soma Communities - Tacoma, WA from Verge Network on Vimeo.

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