“God must work in you before God can work through you,” said DeAnne Chyrst, wife of Philip Chryst, pastor of The Anchor, a new United Methodist congregation in Wilmington. The Chrysts, along with Urban Missionary Randy Evans, presented on the new methods they have used to plant this missional community. Philip was appointed by the Bishop to a new church plant in downtown Wilmington and quickly became established at a bar known as Ted’s Fun on the River. After getting to know the folks there, he became the bar’s “chaplain” and began to build a community. Philip said, “professionalization of ministry is the problem.” After being frustrated with the traditional church system, the Chrysts started in Wilmington by focusing on discipling the few instead of ministering to the crowds, modeling their ministry after Jesus Himself.
Randy Evans was one of these few and he has now built his own missional community, The Wheelhouse, in Carolina Beach and is pursuing candidacy. Randy told of first meeting the Chrysts and not knowing what to think of this church that met on Wednesday evenings in the pastor’s home for mostly fellowship and mission. Soon he became part of this “family on mission.” DeAnne explained how in the traditional church system, she felt as though she had to choose between family and mission. In this new model, her 6-person family is on mission together. There were many questions about what this looked like or could look like in a traditional church. The participants were encouraged to invite people to do life with them, whether that meant meals or fun or mission, and they told stories of leading their neighbors farther along the continuum towards following Christ. Look for groups in your church already meeting, add a mission component, and watch it grow.
Philip shared his 5-week pattern for their group meetings. In the first week, they do mission together. In the second week, they review the mission experience and reflect on where they saw God. In the third week, they have fun together – real fun. In the fourth week, Philip leads a conversational teaching, and in the fifth week, he continues teaching but with a focus on the mission planned for the next week. These regular rhythms make a simple format for creating big outcomes.
The Anchor team is quick to point out that this way of doing ministry is simple. Missional communities cost nothing. They do simple missions, use other buildings, and serve the community. It is not adding another program. It is pruning your current responsibilities so that you can create margins to build relationships that produce fruit. The goal is to build a discipling culture using covenant groups to advance kingdom movement, enabling participants to live lives for the common good. One of the biggest missing pieces in a traditional church is imitation. As Christ invited people to imitate Him, our leaders need to live lives that are worthy of imitation and invite “people of peace” – those who like, serve, and are willing to listen to each other – to live life with them. Start with yourself.
Scripture references: Luke 10:30-33, Acts 2:42-47, John 15