Introduction

At the heart of it, a Distributed Church is about embracing the ministry and mission of God in the context where you are right now. The web of relationships you already have; the neighborhood where you already live; the place where you already work - these are the people among whom God providentially has placed you. A Distributed Church is a means to follow God in ways that form those relationships into a spiritual family that reflects His image.

Your first inclination in reading this Field Guide may be to think it is fundamentally about church structure and organization. You'll find the majority of discussion related to churches, so the main purpose would be easy to miss. But at a foundational level what a distributed church is, and how to start one, flows from a deeper purpose: to reflect the image of God in every aspect and relationship in your life.

A Distributed Church is also about using the gifts God has given you to their fullest potential. Your wiring, your skills and abilities, your perspective, your experience, your relationships, even your struggles are all evidence of your calling. They are indicators of the way God has equipped you for ministry and mission. If you're alive and a follower of Jesus, then you're called to a purpose greater than yourself. Through Christ you have the resources to accomplish that purpose.

But this purpose, while incredibly satisfying to embrace, can be very difficult to prioritize. We want to be a part of something bigger than ourselves, but we balk at leaving our comfort zone. We want to make a difference, but we feel disqualified because of our sin. We long for meaning, but we settle for distraction. But what if, this time, we didn't? What if we stepped forward into something different?

Those who have gone before us are beckoning us forward (including the first century church). All around the world there are groups of people becoming spiritual families whose identity and connection is centered on who God is, what He has done, and what He is doing through them. These groups of people are living out together what Jesus calls the church to be and do in this world. And it is making a difference. Lives are being transformed. People are being cared for. Neighborhoods are improving. The church is growing.

We can follow their example, but it won't be easy. If you're looking for the easy way, then put this down and walk away slowly. This is not the easy way. But, if you've tried those easy ways and have an inkling that you were made for something more, then this might be the way for you to best follow Jesus and be His church.