Some Missionals interact with neighbors first thing each day through gardening together or at the on-site dog park. Some interact with neighbors by hosting breakfast once a week or on a walk through the Village prior to going to work. Other Missionals must get kids ready for school and themselves ready for work, so they call neighbors by name, smile and wave “good morning” on their drive out of the Village.

During the middle of the day, Missionals find neighbors at work around the Village, many as part of MLF’s Community Works program—cutting grass, groundskeeping, cleaning common areas or producing “goodness” through a number of micro-enterprise opportunities. Depending on interest and availability, a Missional might volunteer in Genesis Gardens or the art house, pick up a prescription for a neighbor or offer a ride to the supermarket. Evening comes, and Missionals encounter neighbors at organized events, at the bus stop, checking the mailboxes or walking their dogs. Every visit is an opportunity to listen, encourage, affirm and deepen intentional relationships.

Clearly, there is not a simple list with a checkbox for all the things Missionals do. Missionals live prayerful, connected lives, and out of a spirit of gratitude, step up where needed, respond when the Spirit prompts and offer what they can to be of service.

Missionals are organized on committees to provide support in a structured manner to neighbors and fellow Missionals. We value our shared calling and rely on the team day-in and day-out as we give care to neighbors and our fellow Missionals.

Mobile Loaves & Fishes is headquartered at Community First! Village, and while the staff actively manage the neighbor population, Missionals come alongside the staff in a variety of ways in caring for our neighbors. Through experience and wisdom, staff members recognize individuals who might otherwise fall through the cracks. Missionals are called on to contact these at-risk neighbors from time to time, inviting them to participate more fully in the communal experience of the Village. Mobile Loaves & Fishes also identifies neighbors who may be vulnerable in some way, and Missionals help by checking in on them from time to time and, if needed, notifying staff if the situation warrants. With so many new homes being built, lots of new neighbors are arriving at Community First! Village on a regular basis. Missionals play a key role in connecting new neighbors to resources and helping them become acquainted with life in the Village. All Missionals support Mobile Loaves & Fishes in meeting these needs, human-to-human and heart-to-heart.

Existing Missionals are also asked to support new, discerning or aspiring Missional neighbors. These roles usually last one year and involve a regular rhythm of meetings as we work together to strengthen and care for our team.

Missional neighbors stand in the gap for each other, linking arms and sharing the burden.

Serving those ravaged by poverty, injustice, mental illness and addiction can be taxing and can lead to fatigue or burn-out. That’s why downtime away from Community First! Village is a must for Missionals.

Equally important, however, is experiencing downtime on-site at the Village with other Missionals. This unique fellowship with other Missionals—sharing the journey—is a real treasure. Beyond serving together, Missionals have structured and unstructured “Missional-only” time—walking groups, cookouts, ice cream socials, potluck dinners, cart path conversations, porch visits, board games, wine and cheese, monthly small group meetings, quarterly meetings and our annual off-campus retreat.

Many Missionals living in Community First! Village decide to purchase their own Park Model Home, have it moved onto the property and set up. Missionals are responsible for the upkeep, repairs and maintenance on all units that they own. IMPORTANT NOTE: All homes must be pre-approved by Mobile Loaves & Fishes and meet their minimum standard prior to purchasing. MLF has a list of specifications that must be met regarding the type, size, year, electrical capacity, etc. It could be an expensive mistake should you not choose to follow this guideline. However, there are a very limited number of Park Model Homes owned by MLF, similar to the type MLF purchases for the neighbors, that may be available to rent by Missionals. If you are interested in that option, Contact Mobile Loaves & Fishes for the availability at any specific time. Some single Missionals might choose to rent an MLF-owned tiny home, most of which are not plumbed for running water but are located near one of many restroom/laundry/shower facilities and outdoor kitchens.

Missionals must have the time to make Missional living their top service priority, and commit to reside 85% of their nights at Community First! Village (excluding work-related travel). Missionals recommit to the missional life on an annual basis, serve on teams and attend regular meetings. The bottom line? Missional living is a life-changing commitment. It’s hard—but very rewarding.

Obviously, Missionals serve neighbors and the missional community, but they also have a duty to self-care as well as a commitment to support our sponsoring organization—Mobile Loaves & Fishes. We support MLF and their leadership publicly and, more importantly, we are united in our support for the cause. This starts with alignment of values.

Mobile Loaves & Fishes is a nonprofit, faith-based organization whose ideals and philosophy come directly from the Gospel of Jesus Christ. MLF bylaws govern the affairs of the organization and form the backbone of our Missional Discernment Process. At the core of MLF are beliefs and guiding principles. These are living values that have stood the test of time, but as a discipline, are systematically revisited for possible amendments and fine tuning. More than just marketing mantras, these become rules for decision-making and action, even when no one is looking. The bedrock of these beliefs are the Vision, Mission, Values and Goals.

Vision: We empower communities into a lifestyle of service with the homeless.

Mission: We provide food and clothing, cultivate community and promote dignity to our homeless brothers and sisters in need.

Core Values:

  • Homelessness is the result of a profound, catastrophic loss of family.
  • God, infinitely perfect and blessed in Himself, in a plan of sheer goodness, freely created man to make him share in His own blessed life.
  • By virtue of being created by God in His image, we are all called to live in community and relationship with Him through each other.
  • The family is the original cell of social life.
  • You shall love your neighbor as yourself.
  • All members of the human family are equal in dignity.
  • The Lord God took the man and settled him in the Garden of Eden to cultivate and care for it. – Genesis 2:15

Discerning Missionals show a willingness to learn and are open to growth. A discerning Missional is honest and willing to engage fully and humbly in the Missional Discernment Process.

Discerning Missionals understand our tongue-in-cheek slogan: Semper Gumby (Always Flexible) and are prepared to exhibit flexibility and a spirit of cooperation in their attitudes, beliefs, behaviors and practices. Ultimately, a discerning Missional is willing to become the kind of person who can embody and live out MLF’s vision, mission, values and goals. Missional living is an authentic expression of these attributes. It is confirmed by a sense of energy and purpose that result in charitable actions such as the Corporal and Spiritual Works of Mercy.

Corporal Works of Mercy

  • To feed the hungry
  • To give water to the thirsty
  • To clothe the naked
  • To shelter the homeless
  • To visit the sick
  • To visit the imprisoned or ransom the captive
  • To bury the dead

Spiritual Works of Mercy

  • To instruct the ignorant
  • To counsel the doubtful
  • To admonish sinners
  • To bear wrongs patiently
  • To forgive offenses willingly
  • To comfort the afflicted
  • To pray for the living and the dead

To what end? What are we hoping to achieve when we serve as Missionals?
Our goals are tied to our individual gifts and aligned with the goals of Mobile Loaves & Fishes.

MLF Goals

  • Transform the way people view the stereotype of those who find themselves homeless.
  • Reconnect the homeless to self, family and community.
  • Help the chronically homeless rediscover and utilize their God-given talents to do purposeful work.
  • Connect human-to-human, heart-to-heart through the fellowship of food and hospitality.
  • Inspire people into a lifestyle of abundance by giving their best first.

Alan Graham offers a reflection on the painting by Caravaggio, “The Incredulity of Thomas.” (A depiction hangs in our sanctuary in Unity Hall.) In the painting, Jesus is lovingly guiding Thomas’ finger into the wound in His side (John 20:27), and Thomas is overwhelmed with humility and responds “My Lord and my God” (John 20:28). When Alan unpacks his reflections on this painting, he shares that the wound represents the woundedness of the world—hatred, sickness, abuse, addiction, judgment, cruelty and homelessness. We are Thomas. Jesus is inviting each of us into the ugliness of that wound, and when we say “Yes,” our souls are moved and also utter: “My Lord and my God.” Being missional is allowing Jesus to lead us into that woundedness.

Interested in Becoming a Missional?