Launching Missional Communities – Thinking UP, IN, OUT

In their book Launching Missional Communities, Breen and Absalom point out that

Jesus had three great loves and thus three distinct dimensions to his life.

UP: deep and connected relationship to his Father and attentiveness to the leading of the Holy Spirit

IN: constant investment in the relationships with those around him (his disciples)

OUT: entering the brokenness of the world, looking for a response individually (people coming into relationship with Jesus) and systemically (systems of injustice being transformed).

This three dimensional pattern for living a balanced life is evident throughout Scripture and needs to be expressed in community life as well. Because of this we believe missional communities need a balanced expression of UP-IN-OUT in order to be healthy, growing communities.

Now that’s some pretty good stuff. First of all, its biblical. Second of all its not properly balanced in many churches today. I asked that question in an earlier post when I asked what the balance in your congregation was between IN and OUT. It would have been better if I had included UP as well. Obviously some things have overlap but we do need to make sure that we are providing specific environments or activities that foster each of those three components of Jesus’ ministry within our churches.

I have to say that I am very excited about our young people and the prospects for the church over the next 20 years. Some things worry me just a bit but overall I think some really good things are underfoot. Much of this is happening because people are really seeking out God and to really make a difference in the world. That means more of our young people are getting focused on OUT and UP and less on IN. That is a good and healthy move as many churches today have been doing the IN thing very well for many, many years almost to the exclusion of the other two. My point is, I hope we are getting closer to achieving balance of the biblical principles of ministry and can really live out the mission that is outside the Sunday morning walls.

I appreciate the balance that this book tries to bring into the discussion to get people to start thinking more in terms of UP, IN and OUT.


About mattdabbs
I am a minister, husband, and father. My wife and I live and minister in Saint Petersburg, Florida. My primary ministry responsibilities include: small groups, 20s and 30s, involvement, and adult education.

10 Responses to Launching Missional Communities – Thinking UP, IN, OUT

  1. Milton Jones wrote a little book on this subject a long time ago that we studied when I first went to UF & was in the campus ministry. Here’s the Amazon page:

  2. Tina says:

    Our own church did a three year study on up-in-out; we named it Lift, Connect, Reach. I wonder if this is where our minister got the idea.

  3. Lantz Howard says:

    I have seen this concept in several places lately.

    Lifeway resources use a system for know God, own your faith, and make your faith known. know, own, known
    or up in out.

    Think Orange is using a similar concept with Wonder, Discovery, and Passion. Same concept different words.

    Thanks…for sharing I am going to order to possibly use.

    • mattdabbs says:

      These guys have been doing this for over 10 years and are now compiling what they have learned. It is pretty neat to see some of the same structure coming from multiple ministries. What I like about this book is that they put nuts and bolts on it rather than just talk concepts.

  4. 25 years ago my parents were part of a churchplanting team that started the Metro Manila Bible Community. The logo and basic underlying premise for the church was and has remained the concept of Inward, outward, and upward. The logo is a simple stick-figure kind of a thing with three heads and three sets of arms arranged in the form of a triangle. The upper person has their arms pointing upward, the left-side figure has their arms crossed across their chest (inward), and the right-hand figure has their arms stretched outward. I think my Dad got the idea from someone else in the 1970s but it is a concept that we have revisited lately as we think about being more intentional in mission. Nice to see that the concept lives on …

    • mattdabbs says:

      Thanks for the neat story. I hope that ministry is still alive and well. The three pronged approach can certainly bring more balance to our ministry when we start thinking and acting that way.

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