DEFINITION & PRACTICES OF MISSIONAL COMMUNITIES
We’re continuing a series of posts on Missional Communities at the Austin Stone. Last week, we answered the question “Why Missional Community?”, and this week we’ll define what a Missional Community is.
It’s easy to confuse who we are with what we do. When we mix up who we are with what we should do, we substitute actions for the very identity that should drive everything.
At the Austin Stone, we define a Missional Community as:
A community of Christians, on mission with God in obedience to the Holy Spirit, who demonstrate tangibly and declare creatively the gospel of Jesus Christ to a pocket of people.
Definitions often require some explanation though. Let’s unpack that definition a little more fully.
A community of Christians on mission with God, in obedience to the Holy Spirit
Missional Community is not another word for “Tuesday night Bible study.” It is first and foremost a community, a network of relationships. At the core of this community are Christians who are saved by the death and resurrection of Jesus, who long for His return, and have been given new hearts that beat for God’s mission to make His name great.
The Holy Spirit unifies and empowers this community as they seek to obey Him, hearing His voice in the Scriptures.
…that demonstrates tangibly and declares creatively the Gospel of Jesus Christ…
As we saw in last week’s post, God’s mission is to magnify His name. Part of this is rescuing sinners so that He would be worshipped forever as the only Savior. God, in Christ, saves sinners.That’s good news; that’s the gospel!
Spreading this good news is our mission—far and wide to people who are far from God. This revolutionary message must be clearly declared in words with our mouths. This message must also be sacrificially demonstrated in practical ways that mirror the grace and value of God.
…to a pocket of people…
MCs aren’t committed to being missionaries and doing mission in a general way; generic mission often doesn’t accomplish much. In order to become dynamic, we must become specific. So, MCs declare and demonstrate the gospel to a specific people. They labor together, all praying for and seeking to win the same faces to Christ.
Some common pockets of people involve neighborhoods, work, hobbies, pubs, parks or wherever people gather. Our hope would be that each Missional Community would have an identified group of people they are trying to reach together.
So, who we are defines what we do. But how? Demonstrating and declaring don’t exactly come naturally, right? Especially in a whole group! And where do I cultivate my own personal holiness and intimacy with Jesus?
In addition to definitions, we need some practices to see how this comes together. At the Austin Stone, we think there are three primary practices that we will do together if we’re committed to living out the definition above:
- Third Place
- Life Transformation Groups
- Missional Community Family Meetings
In the next few posts, we will unpack each of those practices and how they fit in. Stay tuned!
Interested in learning more about missional communities? Check out the Austin Stone Institute. Get theological training and practical experience through a variety of internships and residencies.