The Austin Stone is a church committed to the exaltation of Jesus through the proclamation and demonstration of the gospel to our city and the nations through missional communities. This blog series unpacks how we approach the difficult challenge of assimilation into smaller communities from our Sunday gatherings:
- The Difficulty of Assimilation and Mission
- The Basic Philosophy of Assimilation
- Barriers to Connection
- Strategies for Overcoming Barriers
- A Few Things We’ve Learned About Assimilation
The Philosophy of Assimilation
Before we discuss the details of the system we have in place, it’s important to highlight the underlying principles that have guided how we built the system. First, as we mentioned earlier, we are convinced of God’s design for gospel-centered communities on mission to be the aim for every believer. This is the endpoint toward which we are driving our entire community.
We also believe that every individual has a story, and it is our calling as equippers of the saints to understand how to apply the gospel into those unique lives. The task of discipleship is meeting someone where they are, and helping them see and move toward God’s plans and purposes.
Assimilation, therefore, seeks to respond to the individual stories of those involved. Quite simply, a process is designed to serve the widest possible group of people who have some things in common regarding their stories. The most common story at The Austin Stone for those who come through our doors is that of familiarity with Christian culture, but predominantly predisposed to approach engagement in church as a consumer.
For us, we must have a systemic response to discipleship which takes into account where people typically begin, but also is moving them toward a greater degree of faithfulness to Jesus in community. We therefore utilize environments (Sunday School type, New Believers classes, etc.) and forms (curriculum-driven small groups, classical western teaching) that people are familiar with, and move on towards patterns and practices that may be less familiar (incarnational community, shared rhythms of life, intentional mission, etc.).
Simply put, we know where most people are, and we know where we want most people to go, and we’re comfortable with a variety of paths to getting them there.
What challenges do you see with our approach to connection?