Archives For stories

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!

Sermon Series

Fall 2007 Vision Series – We are the Church Together

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.

Fall 2008 Vision Series – A Church for the City

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.

Spring 2011 Preaching Series – 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.

Fall 2013 Vision Series – This Matters

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.

Other Sermons

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.

Fall 2008

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.

Fall 2009

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.

Fall 2010

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.

Spring 2012

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!

I recently received a very encouraging email from a missional community leader that perfectly encapsulates doing mission (declaration and demonstration) in the context of a community.  I hope this encourages and edifies you, as it did me!

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Tonight I met up with my writers’ group. There are three of us: two believers, Christina and me, and one non–believer, Jenny. We have openly shared the gospel with Jenny before. She’s listened respectfully to what we believe but didn’t bring up specifics again.

At the end of the night, Christina pulled out her phone and texted someone. I asked if everything was okay. Christina went on to say that there’s this guy in her community who’s going through a really rough time. He lost his job and has some health issues, so he’s dealing with depression and insomnia. Their community has gathered around to fight for him. Someone from the community calls him every night at 10:00 to check up on him and make sure he goes to bed. Tonight, Christina was just responding to his text that said he was heading to bed.

I could tell Jenny was taken aback by Christina’s story. She said, “I’ve never (emphasizing the never) had friends like your friends.”

I realize now – in retrospect – that this would have been a perfect time to segue into “We only love that like because Christ loved us first.” Unfortunately, neither Christina nor I said that. I said something about that’s what community does; it fights for you when you can’t fight for yourself. And eventually the conversation headed another direction.

I’m praying the Holy Spirit continues to work on Jenny’s heart and draw the three of us closer and into more gospel conversations!

I’m sending this to you so you know that non-believers are noticing. They are saying things like “I’ve never had that.” They are being dumbfounded by the testimony of missional community, a testimony of the church as it should be. It’s a small story. But as I sat down to respond to someone else’s email, it just sort of poured out. So I thought I should send it.

Thank you for your endurance to the work God has called you in leading the charge for missional communities. Praise God for all He’s doing!