The strength of having a space like Missional Communities is they allow people to enter more freely into each other’s lives without the pretext of “church” and all that can sometimes come with it. For kids who have parents that aren’t Christians, this is particularly important. It allows a family to invite that child into their rhythms (assuming the family isn’t hostile to their kid hanging out with them, which usually they aren’t).
Missional Communities work because they can integrate many types of people and there is the opportunity for kids to have spiritual parents who aren’t their own. This is particularly helpful for MCs with children because they are often neighborhood based and parents don’t have to worry about dropping their kids off at a place (church) they don’t attend (with people they don’t know).
For children and teenagers who want to be a part of the family of God, but whose parents do not, the community of faith gets to sort of adopt them. In short, we are called to nurture faith as spiritual parents.
Encouraging these students to be a part of regular children and youth programming at church is a start. But these students need to SEE faith lived out in the context of average, everyday human interaction. With parental permission, inviting them in to a small group or a “missional community” would sort of substitute for what they lack in their natural home environment.
This is tricky if your church is outreached focused like mine is. We get a lot of students who want to follow Jesus, but then go home to a home that doesn’t have affection for Christ. Trying to get all these hungry students connected with mentors and surrogate families is daunting and overwhelming. Now, not everyone is hungry for the things of Christ, but we do have more students seeking than we do adults willing to stand and fill in the gap for these students.
Interesting problem to have, eh?
Your thoughts, critique and questions are welcome in the comments below!