Things have gone pretty quiet around this blog…the holidays and the hectic pace of life have kept me from writing. As i have been preparing for this new year of ministry, I spent some time looking back over the past few years and came across some old resources.
It’s simultaneously humorous and enjoyable to see how our team has grown and changed in our understanding of missional communities. Below is a historical look at how missional communities have developed through preaching, curriculum and storytelling. I pray they are encouraging and helpful to you!
This is where we started moving toward missional communities rather than small groups. We accompanied it with our first alignment curriculum, using our existing values language which is still a significant part of our ministry today.
This is where we defined missional communities as being “For the City”, and full-scale started calling them missional communities. One of the later lessons in the curriculum was most helpful in helping people go from “small group” to missional community.
This sermon series was a fun collaborative project with several of our pastors who focused primarily on cultivating missional communities at The Austin Stone. You can hear how many of our thoughts had matured and changed up to that point.
Most recently, we spent some time as a church focusing on the core values that shape our missional community life together. The curriculum was meant to define these values and reinforce the core practices of missional communities at The Austin Stone.
In addition to the series above, there have been several different sermons dedicated to missional communities at The Austin Stone…here are a few that were unique and especially powerful.
Stories of Mission by Stew and Joey Shaw – April 2008
Although we don’t have the video that accompanied this sermon, this was a different way of presenting the vision through simple stories of what folks in our body were doing. Additionally, we integrated stories of both local and global engagement, reinforcing our commitment to making disciples of all people.
Missional Community by Stew – January 2009
This sermon was a vision refresher, focusing on mission as the catalyst for community. It became very important for one of our important ideas: “if you aim for community, you rarely get mission, but if you aim for mission, you almost always get community”.
Community vs. Biblical Community by Matt Carter – October 2009
Matt powerfully unpacks the distinction between worldy community and authentic biblical community in this sermon.
Stories of Missional Communities
Finally, you can clearly see the development and learning in our journey towards missional communities by the stories we have told over the years.
These stories emphasized strongly the theme of demonstrating the gospel through tangible acts of service. As a church, we were discovering the imperative of engaging in the ministries of mercy and justice.
The first story is a wonderful snapshot of a group doing prison ministry. It was about this time we realized how much we had focused on serving, while we were missing the primary thread of disciple-making. Jon and Morgan’s story is an excellent piece explaining how a young couple pursues mission in their everyday life.
In response to the stories and emphasis of the past two years, we wanted to return to the “every day missionary” idea and tell stories of normal people living intentional, everyday lives for the fame of Jesus.
We had finally arrived at a core set of practices, and this story puts them on display incredibly well.
It’s been an incredible ride to learn, grow, and lead through the transition to missional communities at The Austin Stone, and I pray these resources encourage you to pursue Christ and greater faithfulness to His mission!