Brad Brisco has a nice post on his conversation with Alan Hirsch regarding missional communities. Alan pointed out that Christian Associates International uses the acronym INCH to clarify the levels of missional activity by a missional church. Helpful stuff. Some of this is de facto for true missional churches; however, it provides some nomenclature for missional practices.
Initiatives — This is the very lowest level of missional-incarnational practices. These are simple steps taken by individual people of God who carry the word, life and deed of Jesus into the lives of others.
Networks — These are formed when groups of 10-15 people get together to share what is taking place and to participate in missional-incarnational practices as a community.
Clusters — These are basically networks of networks. There is a bit more structure/organization at this level. There may be certain types of training/resources provided within clusters that might not be available in smaller groups.
Hubs — This represents some type of larger gathering for corporate worship, training and larger missionary engagement. Hirsch argues that hubs are probably necessary in certain American contexts.
In our experience, networks and hubs have been easier to facilitate, while trying to create a culture of “initiatives.” We spotlight a missional community every other Sunday gathering to promote community and mission in our church. This is one way to increase initiatives, along with preaching, teaching, and basic missional church structures.