One of the tools we use often at 3DM is a simple tool called the SWOT Analysis. It helps us understand our current reality so we can better focus our energy and make plans for next steps to get where we want to go.
This year, we finally have breakthrough in an area that has been camping out in “frustration” for quite some time. I’m certain it will be something we will continue to have to fight for, but the fight is worth it!
A glimpse into our context: we long to equip our students to be “everyday missionaries” in their world – to give them the tools to impact their campus, their neighborhood, and their sports teams with the Kingdom. Our high school ministry is made up of student missional communities, where students are with other students from their school and/or students from their surrounding area. On Wednesdays, they gather in these communities that we hope become families on mission. The rest of the week, they scatter into their world to bring the Kingdom there.
The beauty is that when they scatter, many of them scatter together as a pack. And when they gather, they have crazy community to invite friends into.
What was camping out in the frustration category, for us, was this: as our students invited friends, getting these friends to fold into the community and become a part of the community wasn’t yet happening. They’d come once, maybe a few times and that’s it. This problem isn’t unique to us, I know…
You see, we’ve had huge breakthrough in these last few years with our students actually being discipled to live a life like Jesus (rather than simply plugging into a youth ministry program) and we’ve seen them understand their call to live as missionaries in their ordinary lives! Worth celebrating! Not only were they doing crazy awesome things when they were scattered, but we saw them inviting friends that didn’t yet know Jesus to join them when they gathered in their missional communities. Awesome. But what we weren’t yet seeing were those friends getting connected and fully integrated for the long haul – BECOMING a part of the community. That’s where we wanted breakthrough.
This year, we’re seeing it! We need to understand WHY we’re getting breakthrough, so the breakthrough can multiply to the other communities. From my vantage point, the breakthrough came because these groups of students meeting in missional communities have been doing the hard work of developing radical community. They have begun to function like family.
What that means is that students from different social groups, students very different from one another, have worked hard to bridge these gaps for the sake of the Kingdom. They have committed to love one another – love that looks different in different relationships and groups. But they’ve chosen to be committed to each other.
When friends come, now they are coming into an environment that “feels” like family, and they are folded into these existing deep relationships. There’s a place for them to belong, not just hang on the outside like a guest. It’s amazing when you see students (who by nature are focused on themselves!) greet and love on other people’s friends. That is nothing but Jesus right there!
We’ll keep fighting for radical community….and all the other things in our battle, frustration, and failure quadrants!