Marko’s new book about the future of youth ministry, Youth Ministry 3.0: A Manifesto of Where We’ve Been, Where We Are & Where We Need to Go will be released soon. He outlined some of the broad concepts during the closing message at last year’s National Youth Workers Convention and graciously included several preview chapters for discussion and comment on his blog a little while back.

In those preview chapters, Marko urges us to move beyond “building community” from a programmatic, pragmatic perspective and towards communion. He coined a great term to describe this shift: communional. Here’s a brief description of what becoming communional would look like:

Communion is small. I already wrote a whole section on small, so I won’t harp on it here. But it bears repeating that communion rarely, if ever, occurs in a large setting.

Communion is slow. It’s not rushed. It’s doesn’t happen overnight – in fact, it’s annoyingly patient. Communion doesn’t happen on our timetables at all, and will internally resist all forms of quantification.

Communion is simple. Not simple to “create”, but simple in it’s DNA. It’s not flashy. It doesn’t flourish with booster shots of technology .

Communion is fluid. It won’t be boxed and sold as a resource or presented as a 40-day plan. It shies away from being defined. It beautifully morphs into variant vibes, seasons and shapes.

Communion is present. It demands face time. It hungers for listening. It salivates for shared experience. It lives in the hear-and-now.

Communion is Jesus-y. It places high value on the expectation of God showing up. It notices Christ in our midst. It seeks to live out a shared experience of joining up with the redemptive work of Christ.

As many youth workers will attest, what is true of youth ministry is true of ministry in general. Wouldn’t a communional church, as described here, be such a beautiful thing?

However, this description of communional church doesn’t lend itself nicely to the professionalized setting in which many of us in vocational ministry find ourselves. After all, small, slow churches don’t get press for their best practices. Sounds like this is going to require some ecclesial re-thinking.