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.