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Community-centered Church

August 29, 2008

The vision of Austin City Life is to cultivate communities of Spirit-led disciples who redemptively engage peoples and cultures through Christ for the glory of God. So, what does it mean to “cultivate communities”? Cultivation is a horticultural metaphor. To plant a church is to cultivate a community, not launch a service. Church planting requires sweaty work with people; patience, allowing the plant to grow; and tenderness with the plant. In other words, if we want to cultivate community, it will require more than going to a church service on the weekends and attending a weekly meeting. That’s hardly community; it’s just a couple of meetings, a few hours a week.

We first have to be convinced that the church is a community, really. We are converted, not merely to Christ, but also to his body—the church—to a community of Spirit-led disciples who follow Jesus. Consider the numerous “one another” commands. Consider the nature of Scripture. When Paul wrote a letter to New Testament churches, the pastors did not take it, mimeograph, and hand out individual copies to the church members, and then tell them to take it home and study it. No, the pastors read the letters aloud in the community to the community. The second person plural pronouns “you” were heard, not primarily as a collection of individuals, but as a community of disciples who shared life and truth and mission. They implemented Paul’s commands by loving, exhorting, encouraging, and serving one another, not by privately memorizing Scripture, having quiet times, and attending church. The context of their pastoring was one another. The Word has a community context, and as Tim Chester puts it, “The gospel is a community-centered Gospel.” To pastor one another, then, is to be community-centered. The context of pastoral leadership, which is not for professionals but for disciples, is community, the church.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. August 29, 2008 11:32 am

    Nice work man. I pray this kind of thinking becomes the “norm” in Western Evangelicalism.

  2. August 29, 2008 12:00 pm

    Great ideas. That’s why we are apart of ACL. Church according to Scripture not western civ.

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