Building the Community … in the World

The practice of Build the Community within KINDLE’s strand of Cultivating Groups gave us the opportunity to connect with a KINDLE Associate working in the mission field of Uganda. Megan Mantey helped us to define community in her current context and reminded us of how our whole lives are shaped by our identities as Christ-like servant leaders.

Q: What is your definition of community?

A: My definition of community has changed in recent years, especially with serving as an LCMS missionary in Uganda. In the United States, our understanding of community does not center on survival. In Uganda, the community weaves into the fabric of life together … The community’s needs have a more vital calling than the needs of the individual and powerfully shape how people and families live together and define one another.

Q: How does your perspective as a Christ-like servant leader shape your definition of community?

A: God created us with a community in mind … In an East African context, the community strongly values and relies on its leaders. Instead of church workers having power and domination in a community, the Church thrives with servant-minded people leading as Christ taught us, living humbly and obediently, needing the community, and being an integral part of its formation.

The servant leader always points back to Christ encouraging people to see the face of Jesus from a different perspective.

Q: What is the value of community to you personally? In your ministry setting?

A: Community is vital to our lives in Uganda as well as in ministry. It is as essential as breathing … The thought is, “Why would you want to suffer alone or do a task on your own?” There is value in a community.

When Mark and I moved to Uganda 4.5 years ago, we had to figure out what life looked like for us in a
different context. We had to learn everything from finding a carpenter to build furniture (there’s no IKEA), to knowing which medical clinic to go to if we were sick.

More importantly, we had to learn what Christ-centered servant leadership was like in Uganda. All of this required community. My American toughness could not help me in that situation.

(LCU) community required humility, asking lots of questions, time for quiet reflections, learning through frustrating moments, accidental cultural blunders, grace, forgiveness, laughter, and celebration. Doesn’t that sound like a community?

I will never forget when I shared with the Bishop of the LCU how grateful we were for the church
body’s community. His response was, “Of course. Who are we without community?”

I am learning each day that our community in the Gospel is essential … it is survival.

Q: When you have started a new ministry or come into a new place, what are intentional steps you
have taken to help groups experience authentic Christian community?

A: Listening to congregations or representatives from a church body we’re working alongside is
vital to my ministry role, mainly while serving from the second chair. As I listen, I pray and pour over Scripture for the situation, what’s needed and how the Holy Spirit will guide my next steps. I also ask a lot of questions. Thankfully, our colleagues in East Africa welcome questions from missionaries. It’s intentionally part of their learning model and helps build relationships.

We walk together, which is joyous & challenging for the host country and missionaries alike. Our missional context has much value in building a Christian community through riding to a remote village together on the dusty and winding roads, singing hymns, listening and sharing, and relying on one another.

Showing we need a community just as much as we give in a community creates a more open
stance to building an authentic Christian community together.

Q: How has your KINDLE experience helped you foster and multiply Christ-like servant leaders in your community? What resources (growth plans, journey guides, coaching/apprenticing model) have you used in this process?

A: KINDLE helped me be more intentional with my planning and approach while working with
Christ-like servant leaders. The coaching/apprenticing model works well in the Ugandan context, both in the classroom and in the villages. I teach mainly practical courses at the seminary, which allows for various processing techniques that help foster and multiply servant leaders, such as small group discussions and role-playing.

Megan (Flannery) Mantey is a baptized and precious child of God who is wife to Mark, daughter to Michael and Darlene, aunt and godmother to some cherished kiddos, and “mama”
to Ugandan students and friends. She’s also a Director of Christian Education (DCE), mental health therapist, LCMS missionary, and Classic KINDLE Associate. Megan and Mark live in community (with all that it entails) with the Lutheran Church of Uganda in Jinja, Uganda. Megan serves as an instructor of Christian education & counseling at the Lutheran Theological College Uganda, where she is grateful to be a part of fostering and multiplying Christ-like servant leaders.