missional community

A Theological Reason for Missional Communities

Although there are a number of reasons why we have chosen to implement missional communities at The Austin Stone, there are a few critical reasons I want to highlight in this series of posts.  First:

A Theological Reason for Missional Communities

There are several theological works that have been written to date on missional community and missional church, ranging from personal identity rooted in Scripture to the organizational mandate of the church.  Among these resources, I recommend books like Total Church, The Forgotten Ways, Let the Nations Be Glad, and other resources that are helpful.

One of the key distinctive theological reasons we have chosen missional communities resides in the Community Apologetic.

Through passages like John 13 and John 17, we see a unique testimony that God’s people collectively give for the gospel.  Theologically, we would draw heavily on the writings of Francis Schaeffer, Lesslie Newbegin, and Deitrich Bonhoeffer for the development of this idea.

This is also validated throughout church history-the most persuasive argument for the Christian faith is the Christian community.  The majority of conversions throughout church history have come not through argumentation, but through belonging to a meaningful community before belief is ever required.  For more on this idea, see the writings of Rodney Stark.

For us, this means that the church must not simply gather for worship and scatter for mission as individuals.

We must gather for worship AND gather for mission.

Practically, in order to embody the church in unique cultures in our city and be effectively mobilized for mission to our ENTIRE city, this means that we must have smaller, nimble communities who are uniquely expressing the gospel in their neighborhoods, workplaces, and networks of people.

Throughout the New Testament, it seems that the community is involved in all facets of life, not simply a once a week gathering for mutual accountability and encouragement in the mission.

By Todd Engstrom

Although I was raised in the church and had a knowledge of God, I didn’t embrace Jesus until I heard gospel preached and lived out by some Young Life leaders. God has proven faithful and good to me since that day, even in great suffering and loss. I have learned to treasure Romans 8:28 as a wellspring of hope and truth.

God has blessed me with an amazing wife (Olivia), three sons (Micah, Hudson and Owen) and a daughter (Emmaline). Growing up in the northwest, the thought never crossed my mind that I would have four children who are native Texans. Despite landing in the south, I still watch Notre Dame games with my children every Saturday in hopes they will land at my alma mater.

20 replies on “A Theological Reason for Missional Communities”

I’m curious to know what you mean by using the often used buzzword missional in these series of articles. It almost appears to be used beyond the typical feed the hungry, clothe the naked, shelter the homeless (change or neglect the genuine gospel of salvation) banter that’s so common among emergent/ emerging types. Please enlighten me if you may.

Thanks for your question! I’d say that for us, missional primarily means participating in the Great Commission to make disciples of Jesus. We do that through the declaration and demonstration of the gospel in the context of a community committed to making disciples in a neighborhood or network of people.

That’s a statement that’s pretty chock full of meaning, but it’s a good summary view. I’d love to know what you’d like me to expand upon!

[…] We all have an innate desire to live in community with others on some level – yet for as much as we may seek it, the sense of community that we crave can feel hard to come by. We may have a sense there is something missing, or more to the story. According to The Gospel Coalition, “Community on this side of heaven isn’t primarily about us though. Community is about God’s glory being displayed to the world. Jesus clearly explains that the purpose of Christian unity and community is so that the world would know God the Father sent Jesus to this earth in John 17:21-24.  Missional communities are different in that they primarily see the purpose of their friendship, love, and unity to be an apologetic for the gospel to their neighbors.” […]

“-the most persuasive argument for the Christian faith is the Christian community” boom!

Yep, not the back of heads but genuine love for one another. Who would’ve guessed? 😉

I love the thought ‘gather for mission’. I would say we are doing this (though in varying effectiveness) but the community on mission together factor is always playing in my mind and heart.

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