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What is Agape Moms?


Listening Guide for the video “What Is Agape Moms”


AGAPE MOMS VISION AND MISSION:

Welcome to Agape Moms! We are a tribe of women who are seeking after Jesus as we navigate mommyhood together. In our family, you’ll be ENCOURAGED, not in competition, EMPOWERED, not just getting by, and EMBRACED, regardless of your performance.

As we bring everything back to the gospel, it unleashes us to live lives of purpose for God in everyday, messy mom-life. We welcome moms into our tribe who don’t yet know Jesus, we care for each other like family in the highs and lows of life, and we continually experience the gospel bearing fruit in and through us, together on mission for Jesus.

*Agape love is God's unconditional love for us and the unconditional love we can have for each other in Jesus- this is the heartbeat of Agape Moms.*

We exist to empower women to make disciples as we go about everyday, messy mom-life. While we aren't a substitute for rooting yourself in a fuller expression of the church, we believe that the church is people, and so when we gather together, we strive to embody the same values that the early church did in Acts.

We are a safe place for moms to come explore Jesus and how he makes all the difference in the world, maybe for the first time, for the first time in a long time, or for the first time finding a group of believing women who truly love each other with the unconditional agape love of God. We are also a safe place for you to grow into the fullness of who God created you to be, plugging in your gifts into the Agape Moms tribe, making disciples and living out the story God has already written for you.

Our prayer is to be a bridge between formal church gatherings on Sundays, and the daily messy and dark mom world, one where many moms are left alone with the challenge of raising tiny humans. God didn't create us to do life alone, he wired us for community. Plus, we don't know how momin' is possible without a little bit of coffee and a whole lot of Jesus, and we've got both covered at Agape Moms!

We mean it when we say "bring your mess", there's no pretending or performing with us because we've found our answer in Jesus, not in ourselves, and we are kind of obsessed with sharing this news!

Jesus is the hope we are all so desperately searching for at every corner of the messy mom world. Whether we seem pretty put together, or are an open book hotmess, our souls long for what only Jesus can fill. Living in the mom trenches alone is hard enough, but we believe finding a mom-tribe isn't enough, it's all about knowing Jesus and making Him known together. Will you join us?


AGAPE MOMS VALUES being the family of God who makes disciples as they are going

AGAPE MOMS VALUES MAKING DISCIPLES as we are going

We are a tribe of women who intentionally shape our lives around building relationships with those who don't yet know Jesus, because it is the essence of following Jesus. Too much of Christian culture these days has become about building our little kingdom’s, even in the name of Jesus, instead of making the mission of our lives all about making disciples that build God’s Kingdom!

Since Jesus’ final words was the call for each of us to “go and make disciples of all nations”, it should probably be pretty integral to our lifestyles, don't you think? It’s also important to note the Greek word for “go” here is actually in a tense that means “as you are going,” and I think this changes a lot about the way we apply Jesus mission for us. So no, we don’t need to go to a distant country, go on a short term mission trip, and we don’t have to go get a fancy ministry degree or title before we can go make disciples either. It says, as you are going. So no, we don’t have to get a babysitter either.

AS YOU ARE GOING. God is calling you right now to be making disciples with, and alongside, other moms, because this is our season right now, and if anyone can reach other moms with the good news of Jesus, it’s us, it’s the moms with the messy buns, the screaming kids and the never ending to-do lists. I know, it’s not going to be easy or be cut and dry like it is at the bi-annual outreach event, however we can’t really walk away from what Jesus is calling us to in Matthew 28:19, either. But mama friends, we certainly can walk away from misapplied church culture, and misinformed expectations about what going and making disciples means for us on a daily basis.

Will you dare to look at this scripture with fresh eyes and ask God himself, even now in this moment, how he is calling you to live it out? How could we have overlooked this? The mission is right in front of us. It’s what Jesus died for, it’s what we’re to live for, and there’s no pinterest worthy passion that could ever quench a God-designed purpose for your life. Please don’t take my word for it:

"Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me and for the gospel will save it. What good is it for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul?

-Mark 8:34-36

"Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”

-Matthew 28:18-20

 

AGAPE MOMS VALUES THE FAMILY OF GOD

When we genuinely invite mamas into our lives and into our Agape Moms family, we believe this makes introducing them to Jesus very natural, and it immediately invites a relationship and ongoing conversation. Formal church gatherings that are- too big, too programed, too impersonal or too intimidating can’t do what a family does best. We already dug into the scriptural foundation of this from Acts in the session Missional Community: God’s idea, but we are unpacking the logistic implications of it now.

A family is a great place to be vulnerable, to ask questions and to grow. It’s a place where you don’t have to pretend or perform, you can just be.  Intentionally including children is one way to embody the family of God. If we bring our kids with us everywhere we go besides church, what does that say about our church and the way we and our children are expected to behave? When we welcome children and their messes into our space of bible study and prayer, we welcome the disruptions the way we welcome them at any other point of our day, and we welcome them the way Jesus did when His disciples tried to keep the unkept nature of children away from the important Jesus- He would have none of it. We also get to help each other practice our Jesus-centered parenting, we can learn from one another as we watch each other. And our kids begin to learn what the family of God looks like. This doesn’t mean we can’t give them activities on the side, Jesus-centered movies, or even rotate a mom out to help watch the kids every week. The point is that we don’t have to compartmentalize our children, and we don’t need to feel pressured to bring the best version of ourselves and our kids. We shout, "bring our mess to our family" from the rooftops, because its when we allow others to be who they really are with their people, that Jesus can actually enter into the hearts and lives of these very people.


HOW AGAPE MOMS IS DISTINCT FROM OTHER CHRISTIAN MOMS GROUPS:

We are a community, not a church Class

A natural way for women to get to know Jesus is within an authentic community of women verses a learned church culture environment, like a formal Bible study. It’s not that we don’t study the Bible, its just that we choose not to call Agape Moms a bible study because of the connotation it has to those who aren’t churchy. (We use words like Agape Moms, family, tribe, community, gathering, etc.) Part of living on mission means meeting not-yet believing moms on their terms instead of ours, which means choosing missional words and locations like parks, playplaces, restaurants, coffee shops, and even homes. When we authentically invite moms into our day to day, much like Jesus did with his disciples, they can best see the gospel lived out. Jesus can be shared more effectively within the context of genuine relationships that gather to study the word and pray, but where we also don’t stop our relationships there, they flow out into all of life. Agape Moms is relationally ongoing instead of meeting once. Community driven instead of class focused.



We are gospel-centered, not moral-focused.  

When we are all united by our desperate need for Jesus and his grace everyday, whether a Christian for minutes, years or not just yet, it puts everyone on the same level. There’s nothing we could do to earn God’s love or approval, we are loved and accepted by God because of what Jesus has done, and we receive this by grace through faith, not by works, so that no one can boast, and yet all too often, it becomes about works, and a lot of boasting. So, being gospel-centered in all things is foundational!

Many churches and Bible studies tend to make the slight shift away from the Gospel to focusing more on adhering to outward Christian behaviors with little regard for the heart. They are focused on behavior modification instead of identity modification- the way we change our outward behaviors begins with internalizing our new Gospel-identities and allow God to work in and through us. In order to have “good Christian values and behaviors” Jesus has to continually transform our hearts by coming back to the gospel again and again, looking at our study of the Word through the lens of the Gospel, living it out by the power of the Holy Spirit and fueling it all through prayer. No amount of guilting or church pressure can develop “a good Christian” woman or child, only God can do that. Plus, God isn't interested in what we can accomplish in our own strength, see Galatians 3:3, John 15:5, Romans 8:10-11. The Gospel is the best news we’ve ever heard- Jesus saves us, sustains us, and sanctifies us- WE aren’t our own saviors, but we do need to keep surrendering to Him in all things. Agape Moms keeps the gospel at the center, enabling us to be real about our daily struggles and need for Jesus, not in our own efforts to become better. 


AGAPE MOMS IN PRACTICE: 3 MAIN THINGS

  1. KEEP THE GOSPEL AT THE CENTER

  2. EMPHASIZE THE COMMUNITY YOU’RE BUILDING TOGETHER

  3. CONTINUALLY RECAST THE VISION AND MISSION

1.) Keep The Gospel at the Center

  • Combat Legalism: Tendency of our human hearts is to gravitate to 10 steps to a better fill in the blank and putting all the weight on what we can do to change ourselves or our kids, with an increasing focus on behaviors vs. heart change. When we focus on Jesus, and continually bring everything back to the Gospel, we will experience heart change that produces real behavior transformation, from the inside out. We will discuss this more in the session: “24/7 Gospel.”

  • Gospel-Centered studies (see Gospel-Centered Resource Tab) Take your time choosing these studies. The studies you choose and how you do them will greatly affect the tone of your group. Keep not-yet believing women in mind, but still get into the word every time. Serge Ministries created studies created for Missional Communities where you work through the study together, without homework. This makes it easy for new moms to come.

  • Bring every application back to the gospel, vs. trying harder to implement a biblical principle without the power of the Holy Spirit to live it out.

  • Identity Shift vs. Behavior modification. We can’t earn our good standing with God, it was a gift. We were adopted into God’s family, and the more our new identity sinks in, the more it propels us to live for Jesus, vs. living in fear and constant insecurity, striving for God’s love and acceptance, like an orphan.

  • Sharing our Jesus-centered stories. Shift from the traditional “testimony” which tends to make each person the subject/hero of their story instead of Jesus as the hero. (Part of resource package) When people are regularly sharing how God has worked in their life, the gospel stays personal instead of intellectual. We have a snack & story sign-up sheet with spots for every week!

  • Leading with vulnerability and our shared need for Jesus: Real about our daily, moment by moment need for Jesus by being transparent about our sin and struggles. As the leader you have to set the tone with this. We don't wallow or glorify our sin struggles, but we don't hide them either- we know a great Savior! People will be tempted to make themselves and their own efforts their “functional saviors” by trying to fix their own sin problems, even by trying harder to apply biblical truth in their own strength. The more we worship and recognize Jesus as our only hope, the more freely we can confess our sins to one another, and help point each other back to Jesus in our struggles. 

2.) Emphasize the community you're building together

  • Prayer cards: building that authentic community one relationship at a time.

  • Missional location: Meet in a park or “common ground” that will make it easy for anyone to come who isn't connected yet. Makes childcare easier too.

  • Jesus-centered stories: Not only keeps gospel at the center but builds relationships and community when someone opens up to the group.  

  • Shared Leadership: We want as many moms as possible to plug their gifts into the tribe. We want to create teams to help ease leadership transitions and seasons of rest. We want to own it together, not make it rest on one or two leaders. (more on this in the session “Shared Servant Leadership”)

  • Shared hosting opportunities- not placing the joy & burden of serving on one leader but sharing it together as a community gives more ownership.

  • Shared snack opportunities: weekly sign up sheet for snack and story, post in facebook group as a document and also have a hard copy in person. 

  • MNO Baby Celebrations or Milestones: Plan nights out and celebrations and dedicate them to pregnant moms, birthdays, or going away parties, or just have fun!

  • Missional Brunch and Play: First week of the month in lieu of study. Breaks things up and keeps you in the community. Also, since you meet year round, you will need a week off every month to rest from teaching and facilitating. This is more relaxed.

  • Highs and Lows: walk through milestones with cards, prayers, calls, posts, etc

  • Being present during hardships (taking up a love offering, visiting in hospital)

  • Agape Bins/Share the Love Page: Sharing baby clothes, maternity clothes, our stuff. 

  • Meal Trains for new babies: and other needs as they come up

  • Including kids. Childcare is expected for church goers but it can be a barrier for not-yet-believing women to come and leave their kids with an unknown babysitter. Being a Missional Family means normalizing interruptions, and allowing women to step out briefly to help their kids if needed. You are also getting to practice your gospel-centered parenting together and learn from each other, while also getting to know each other's kids. I pray over this a ton, for the safety of the kids and that they'd get along well.

  • Why we won't hire childcare/babysitters: I think the way to think about childcare in this setting is to flip it to the perspective. Childcare = expectation for a church goer. Childcare = barrier for a non church goer. We actually don't need childcare, we CAN include kids, like a family would. If you didn't know Jesus or the childcare workers, would you be comfortable leaving your kiddos in childcare, even with a babysitter? If I was not a church goer, I absolutely would not go to a strange church place or drop my kids in a new person's basement with unknown childcare workers. Allowing kids and normalizing interruptions helps the group feel more like a family/community vs. a class with an agenda that doesn't allow interruptions. Moms usually excuse themselves quickly to help their kids and we all have to do it. The cost of a sitter and finding a reliable one is also a huge barrier/responsibility. Once I got used to this missional family model, I was able to set the tone in our group and new women come every week and it seems to work well for them. I don’t like the interruptions but it actually makes it easier for women to come and “bring their mess”’when they see me leading while nursing, changing diapers and disciplining my older child- it makes people feel like they can be themselves!

3.) Continually recast the shared vision and mission.

  • Vision casting weeks: On the first week of every new book/study, make it a casual meet & greet and take time to completely recast the vision of Agape Moms. It'll be good for new people and solidify it for the existing moms, more and more each time.  

    • “We are women who are seeking after Jesus as we navigate mommyhood together.”

    • “We always have an open seat for a new mama who is looking for a tribe of women who is seeking after Jesus together.”

  • Agape Moms Merch: Shirts, mugs, central art piece to display at Agape Moms, all help communicate vision to existing and potential Agape Moms!  

  • Missional Social-Media: (more in upcoming session “Missional Social Media”) 

    • Missional Social Media is media like any other media and has the power to continually convey a message.

    • Social media is another opportunity to share/ recast vision on a weekly basis.

    • Identify keywords to use:

      • Mama tribe

      • Empty seat

      • Bring your mess

      • Jesus-centered

      • Women who are seeking after Jesus together

      • For the church goers and not so churchy alike

      • Come see how Jesus makes all the difference in the world

  • Also use humor/something relatable to engage not yet believing people.

    • Coffee memes

    • Pictures of your group with moms tagged, and link back to your facebook group

      • Helps people visualize who you are

      • Tags helps you network outside of people you personally know

agape moms family schedule

  • Agape Moms has a snack and story sign up sheet that also includes a schedule of the chapters, as well as upcoming events outside your regular meeting time. 
  • The first Thursday of every month we take off for Missional Brunch and Play to get back in the community and break up our study weeks, especially since we meet year round
  • The second weekend of every month, we usually do a Moms Night Out/In, and we will dedicate these to moms who are pregnant when appropriate
  • The third Tuesday of every month we share the love of Christ with our actions by visiting a local nursing home where we are building relationships
  • The last weekend of every month is Agape Family Worship, where the dads and greater families come together to share a meal, read scripture and worship. 
  • We frequently post in the facebook group for playdates and meetups. 
  • Your group may look different, and it may evolve over time, but this serves as an example of some of the other things we do outside of our normal gatherings. 

*When you register your new Agape Moms group with the Agape Moms Family Network, you will receive a startup packet with our logo, mission statement, graphics, documents, sign-up sheets, a launch check list and more to help you jump start your group. 

*Agape Moms does not have to meet during the day, it can meet in the evening as well and be geared towards both working and stay at home moms.

discussion questions:

  1. Practice writing in your own words the mission and vision of Agape Moms. Come ready to your training group next week able to speak outloud and practice inviting new moms to Agape Moms in a way that conveys the values and mission in a down to earth way that is personal to you. (hint: don't call it a bible study!)
  2. What is the significance of the verb tense of "go" in Matthew 28:19 meaning as you are going instead of a call to go? How does this impact the way you, as a mom, are called to make disciples?
  3. What are some ways you can emphasize that Agape Moms is a family, as it relates to bringing new moms, and as it relates to the way you interact with moms already in your family? 
  4. What does being gospel-centered mean? How can you brining every application and lesson back to the cross and resurrection of Jesus? Why is it important that we do this? (We have a session devoted to this entirely coming up!)
  5. Take some time to review the different functions of Agape Moms, like prayer cards, moms night out, missional brunch and play, etc. Do you have a good grasp on the actual flow of an Agape Moms meeting? Do you have a good grasp on a month of Agape Moms gatherings, including some of the other things we do?

*Talk with your coach or message us at this point in the training if you need some help discussing or visualizing how Agape Moms actually plays out. 

worship

Take some time to bring all of this to the feet of Jesus. It is overwhelming, terrifying, exhausting (you fill in the blank) to think about the prospect of being used by God to start something from the ground up, as well as rising up to serve in a new leadership position in an exisiting Agape Moms. In the Old Testament, God often asked His people to make remembrance stones to serve as a visible reminder of what God had just done for His people. What are some remembrance stones in your life? What were times that God "moved the mountain", or came through in a way that only God could? How have you seen God's faithfulness to you throughout the course of your life? I want you to trust Him and believe that He will do it again! He is faithful to you and He always keeps His promises.