Create Missional Communities, Not Disciples

I haven’t posted a tech startup analogy for missional community formation recently, so here’s one. Here’s a big one. And to be perfectly clear: I’m intentionally trying to be provocative here, so hold on!

Author and New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman (The Earth Is Flat) recently spoke to the Stanford University Graduate School of Business, and his message was this: “Create companies, not jobs.”

“Please don’t start a social network for people with six toes. Take on something really big!”

Friedman tells the story of Oasis 500, a Jordan-based tech incubator that offered $15,000 to people with startup ideas for tapping the Arabic-speaking market online. If Oasis 500 liked an idea, the startup founders were required to attend a 6-week “boot camp,” but if they graduated from “boot camp” they received free office space in which to work for six months. If a startup lasted beyond the initial six months, they received mentoring, networking, and funding (by way of an initial angel investment). Oasis 500 is now receiving 450 applications every month, and they’ve helped launch 60 new companies.

It’s a fascinating model for funding, and it causes me to wonder what that might look like in the world of church planting/missional community formation. (Any investors out there with the pockets deep enough to bankroll that?)

The greater philosophical question that Friedman’s talk raises, however, is this: If companies create jobs, so therefore our brightest tech/business leaders are being encouraged to focus on starting companies, is the corollary true in church planting/missional community formation? If communities create disciples, shouldn’t we be focused on forming as many new missional faith communities as possible?

Friedman says [quoting one of the lead innovators at Oasis 500]:

“This isn’t about creating jobs, it’s about creating companies, and companies are growth stories. They not only create jobs, but they spin off people who start more companies.”

That sounds a lot like how missional communities should work. And if you agree that discipleship happens best in community (not as a solo/one-on-one venture), then what the world needs now is many, many more missional communities where people can find their identity and purpose in their participation in the life and mission of Jesus.

What do you think? Do you agree that communities form disciples best? Why or why not? And if so, what needs to happen to jumpstart many, more missional communities?

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