Mission + Trust = Communitas

Something I've been thinking about lately is Alan Hirsch's concept of communitas. At a recent Emerge leaders' retreat, Paul Gardner and I shared about the concept. It's been on my brain that much. Here's a video where Alan Hirsch summarizes the idea of communitas.http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ETN67tbrvX4

There are a lot of things I like about it. The main concept being mission. We need to be on mission. At Christ Community Church, our mission is:

Making disciples of Jesus for Kingdom impact

Everything we do at CCC is motivated by that mission. We are not here to just be comfortable and escape. We are here, we are called, we are sent by Jesus...to be on mission.

The formula for communitas is something Hirsch developed. Often, we think we need trust before we can have community or go on mission. This is not true. If we have a mission, and others are on that mission as well, we can pursue it together. In that pursuit of mission, we develop trust with those who are on mission with us. And then, communitas forms.

Some of the CCC staff and people I've developed good friendships with are people I did not expect to be friends with for whatever reason. We're good friends because we are on mission together. We are pursuing CCC's mission together. We are pursuing specific ministry and individual missions together. We have a bond because of it.


Think of a short-term mission trip. When you go on a short-term mission trip you often don't know fellow participants. Yet, trust is built because you are with them on mission. You share in the highs and lows. You share in the experience of that mission. You are with them to complete the objective of that mission trip. And then communitas happens. There are bonds between you and fellow participants that last a life time because of the mission you were on together.

I think of overcoming my porn addiction. I didn't have trust with the men in my group when I first started pursuing freedom from addiction. Those other men didn't trust me either initially. We had a common mission, though. We were going to overcome addiction by God's grace. We pursued that mission together. We helped each other out during the bad times. We walked with each other during the valley of the shadow of death. We celebrated victories with one another. Trust was developed because we were with each other, through thick and thin, on mission. And what happened? Communitas. Lasting relationships. Do I see these men every day or week? No, but when I do see them there is a bond there that cannot be broken because of the mission we accomplished together.

Does communitas sound good? Do you want it? If so, are you on mission? Are you engaged with CCC's mission, or are you just wanting to escape and be comfortable?

For more on this topic, check out Alan Hirsch's book The Forgotten Ways. This post was adapted from an earlier post on Robert Murphy's personal blog, RamHatter.