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 was a Theological Reason. Second is:
A Philosophical Reason for Missional Communities
Philosophy of ministry is the direct application of theological convictions into a unique cultural context. Our theological convictions about the character of God, the truth of the gospel, and our mission in the world don’t change, but our culture shapes how we apply those truths into functional ministry.
In Austin, Texas, we find ourselves ministering in a highly consumeristic, radically individualistic, and materialistic group of people.
Unfortunately the worldview of the culture has also pervaded the worldview of the local church, and many of the people who engage in our worship services, listen to our sermons, and participate in our ministries are more formed by their unconscious desire to consume than the gospel.
We are systemically discipled by the culture, and the church must have a systemic response to disciple in the way of Jesus.
The American church has often recognized the problem of individualism, presenting small groups as the typical solution for isolated people. Similarly, we recognize the problem of materialism, and have presented opportunities for radical generosity.
It is very rare, however, for the church to have a response to consumerism. We are still plagued by systems of thought that cater to consumers, rather than encourage individuals to be self-feeding missionaries.
Honestly, this is why The Austin Stone has gotten so much push-back from our people on the idea of missional community – we are actively combatting the idolatry and worldview of the church that has run deep into our hearts and minds.
In order for the church to be effective in discipling the people whom God has entrusted us, we need to have a systemic response to the pervasive worldview. We cannot expect to confront idolatry on a deep level if our systems are reinforcing consumerism.
Think about the typical small group-it is highly driven around the needs of the Christian, it is often centered around teaching or bible study from an outside source, and rarely does it demand more than simply a meeting once per week.
Missional Community presents a compelling alternative that calls people from consumerism to the life of a missionary in community in a way that is attainable for the everyday person to live out their God given identities and calling.
What are other ways we can be faithful to the Word and also confront consumerism within the church?
Share in the comments!