I blogged last month about small missional communities in Grahamstown townships (follow the missional tag). Now that I am in Grahamstown I am starting to get a better idea of how these communities work, although I have not yet visited any of them.
The unexpected strength that I found in the system is that they are involved in the old 'building society' system, but for building churches. Each one of the 19 societies contributes to a building fund and when there is enough money they build a new church - either to replace a shack building or make a new place of worship. I don't know the history in detail, but they did build a church five years ago and are making progress towards having funds for the next.
The unexpected downside of the system is that administratively the thing is chaotic. I suppose there is a school of thought that says we don't need systems of 'control', let the churches do what they are led to do. But co operation needs communication and communication tends to need some sort of sytem. For instance, the circuit stewards were concerned that some of the outlying societies were not able to participate in a Covenant Service (a service important to Methodists). They arranged that 'us ministers' would go out there next Sunday. But now, how to let the people know? The contact numbers were all out of date. I suppose one could say that maybe they wouldn't even want us to come - although that is unlikely.
It is also difficult to handle the finances in such a disparate situation. A missional church leader may need to be a teacher - for many good reasons, but also a leader and someone must be an administrator.
This is the tip of the iceberg of a thought - it goes deeper. Need to think some more!