Blueprint Church leverages geography-based missional communities to turn neighbors into family. Here’s how they do it.
To many, church is just some building to go to on Sundays. But for one growing church based in the diverse, urban setting of Atlanta, church is a family, comprised of people who come together in support, encouragement and service seven days a week, all throughout the city.
That’s the blueprint at Blueprint Church, a 4-year-old church that prioritizes relationship and discipleship as its building blocks. Blueprint welcomes about 500 people on Sundays, churchgoers who have also been divided into 14 families called “Missional Communities.”
The Missional Communities are organized by geography, so members live near each other and meet for coffee, Bible studies, service projects, barbecues and other everyday life activities.
“When people ask us, ‘When do you meet?’ I say, ‘We are always meeting,’” says Lead Pastor Dhati Lewis. “We gather for dinner, or in the morning for devotions, or at night for Bible studies and prayer. When we talk about church, we live it.”
To help keep things organized and moving forward, each Missional Community has a “qualified leader.” While they don’t preach on Sundays, they’re “essentially shepherds” charged with protecting their flock, says Blueprint church leader Muche Ukegbu. Those leaders then oversee a core team of about eight committed members who help lead their Missional Community family toward strong connection and engagement.
There’s a point leader, for example, responsible for overall management; a logistics leader, who makes sure the food arrives and tables get set up, things like that; an assimilation leader who welcomes new members into the fold; and a community care leader who stays on top of prayer requests and the needs of family members during hard times.
But church leaders also emphasize “organic” relationships within Missional Communities.
“We place emphasis on people, not an event, not a time and place,” Lewis says.
When visitors come through the doors of Blueprint, they fill out a welcome card, and from the ZIP code church leaders determine which Missional Community they’ll call home. Within days, the appropriate assimilation leader is calling them with a welcoming introduction.
The system works for Blueprint, located in an urban, culturally and economically diverse environment that “embraces the idea of family,” Lewis says.
This plays out in Blueprint’s outreach, as well. Instead of one big day of service, for example, a Missional Community might adopt a few homeless families and set them up with temporary housing or food. Or family members might rally their “siblings” to help a struggling family in their neighborhood.
The overall concept is to “unleash healthy people to do ministry where life exists.” Church leaders say it’s all about taking people out of the orphanage, so to speak, and placing them in an adoptive family.
“With Missional Communities, you are talking about recapturing the art of discipleship in everyday life,” Ukegbu says. “They see God for who he is and why he does the things that he does.”
Lead Pastor: Dhati Lewis
Affiliation: Southern Baptist