Looking Back; Looking Forward 1: Reflecting on the Early days

By September 18, 2015Leadership


paul-maconochieAllow me to introduce myself – my name is Paul Maconochie and I am a Baptist Pastor from Britain who now lives and works in America. Since I left college in the early 1990’s I have had the blessing of being trained and equipped within an environment of mission and discipleship that now has had an effect on churches all over the world. This movement is represented here in the USA by the organization 3DM, a non-profit organization that trains and equips church leaders to build a culture of passionate spirituality, radical community and missionary zeal in their churches.

For ten years I was the Senior Pastor of Network Church Sheffield, a multi-site church in England, which pioneered Missional Communities. Last Summer we moved as a family to the USA and in January I was asked by Mike Breen and a newly-formed Board (chaired by Jo Saxton) to start to head up the 3DM USA national team, to help the organization to thrive in a new, much more decentralized phase. We are working with partner churches across the USA to continue to train and equip churches to function following the words, ways and works of Jesus.


As a child I grew up in a Christian home, and I was very inspired by the stories that I was told about missionaries. I told my mother early on that I wanted to be a missionary when I grew up. I wanted to take the wonderful news about Jesus to people who did not know it, to go to the front line of God’s kingdom in the World.

After several backslidden teenage years, I came to a full adult faith in Jesus at the age of eighteen, as I was in my final year at high school. From the moment that I made the decision to follow Jesus, I wanted to become a Pastor. I wanted to serve God and His people full time. I had been massively impacted by the covenant that He had made with me and I wanted to help others to live this out in their lives.

God’s plan was a little different from either of these aspirations.  When I met my wife Heloise and we realized that marriage was a real possibility, we had a conversation that went something along the lines of:

Me: “I am called to be a Pastor in a church – is that something that you would be OK with?”

Heloise: “Yes – but I am called to be a missionary, maybe overseas. Is that something that you would be OK with?”

We realized that we were called to do both things – to be active leaders and members of a local church and to be missionaries at the same time.

I was blessed to be in a church where the leaders understood this.  As Heloise and I grew in our faith (and our family grew too) we were taught how to build strong vibrant communities of people, living as extended family, with a vision to change the world for Jesus and to reach the Last the Least and the Lost. People who were living as missionaries, even though they were living in their own city.

Now we have been called to the USA, so I guess we are finally overseas missionaries! However our mission and our method remains the same. We are still doing the same things twenty years later that we were taught in those early days:

  • Build predicable patterns of prayer & Bible, food and fun time as a family
  • Look for ‘people of peace’ (Luke 10:6) who feel called to join us
  • Invite them to orbit in and out of our rhythms
  • Disciple them to live in a way that passionately follows God, commits to community life and reaches out to others
  • Do this through shared lives and more formal times of processing together (which we call ‘Huddles’)
  • When they are ready, ask them to lead the same thing in their own homes

This is our 21st Century approximation of what we see Jesus doing in the gospels. The way of life that Jesus practiced is simple and effective, but it does require us to be committed to living out the covenant He has made with us and seeking an increase of His kingdom in the world. Often I meet believers who are committed to one of these things but not the other.

Covenant-only Christians are often great at family but often ineffective at reaching out to others.

Kingdom-only Christians are often great at programmatic outreach but can live compartmentalized lives.

If we want to be fulfilled and effective as Christians, we have to learn to engage with both Covenant and Kingdom. The Great Commandment and the Great Commission. This gives us the right foundations in Christ.
What about you? Have you heard God’s call to build Christian family? Have you felt His conviction to reach out as a missionary to others? Are you prepared to do both so that you can enter into the fullness of the life of Jesus?

Leave a Reply