27 September 2023

Communities on a mission to reach neighbours with the Gospel  

Jon Tran wants to spread the Gospel to his neighbours and community. Picture: iStock

By Jon Tran 

12 February 2023 

The phrase “Being before doing” reverberated in my heart and mind for days after I first heard it.  

It was early 2019 and my wife and I were trying to discern what God wanted us to do next.  

I am Vietnamese and my wife is Filipino. Hospitality and community are high on our family’s cultural values.  

We sensed a call to step out of our church context and into something that would be effective in reaching our neighbours with the Gospel of Jesus.  

“Who has God made us to be?” became a question that we sat with for a long time.  

It was also a question that was fundamental to the practise of the missional communities within the Soma Australia network that we became a part of.   

In the network, we define missional communities as “families of disciples on mission.”  

Core to this definition are three identity statements: God has made us family, God has made us disciples, God has sent us as missionaries into everyday life. 

What makes missional communities unique is their commitment to working out what each of these identities look like in everyday life in their context. 

God has adopted us as his children in Christ, and so we deliberately choose to be involved in each other’s lives.  

We show through our practical help and faithful presence that God has made us to be a spiritual family. 

We share our joys and burdens, loving one another through life’s ups and downs. 

Since God has made us to be disciples of Jesus, we learn to apply the truth of the Gospel in our lives.  

We integrate engagement with scripture, prayer, worship and Sabbath into our shared rhythms.  

We seek to be obedient to Christ and to spur one another on to deeper joy and Christlikeness. 

And since God has sent us into the world as missionaries, we seek to bear witness to Christ in all we say and do.  

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Together missional community members discern where God is already at work in their context, where He would send them as ambassadors, and how God is leading them to demonstrate and declare the Gospel of Jesus collectively. 

This involves a core group of six to eight committed members aligning their lives for the sake of forming another missional community.  

They work out a rhythm of gathering to care for one another as family, to grow in their discipleship to Jesus and to be on mission to those whom God is sending them to love and serve. 

In 2022, members of the missional community I serve met every Thursday night and shared a meal.  

Every fortnight we studied scripture and prayed together. Once a month, we broke into small groups of three to four people to share more deeply and discern what God was doing in each of our lives.  

We alternated that with an open board games night where we sought to show friends and neighbours the welcome of Christ and build relationships of fun and generosity.  

On Sundays we all gathered to worship alongside the other missional groups that make up Inner West Church. 

Missional communities make space for the stranger, the sceptic, the seeker and the devout follower of Christ.  

They cannot do everything, nor should they. A missional community isn’t a church, though it may well grow into one.  

The gold lies not so much in what a missional community does, but in how its members live together, bear witness to the God who has made them to be His family, His disciples and His missionaries. 

Jon Tran is the associate pastor at Inner West Church 

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