Contextualization and “City Groups”
Missional communities are also referred to as: Clusters, Gospel communities, or even Trash Groups. Missional community, however, is the term has become most common in Missional Church literature. If this is the case, why invent yet another name? The primary reason we chose to call them City Groups was due to a principle of missional community called contextualization. Contextualization is the intentional process of communicating the historic gospel and teachings of Jesus Christ in contemporary cultural forms.
In order to best communicate the gospel in our urban, post-modern, creative class context, we discerned that the term “missional community” would be a hindrance not a help to mission. The population of Austin, Texas is highly “unchurched” and, in some sectors, resistant to the gospel. Therefore, new and technical church terminology is unfamiliar at best and off-putting at worst. As a result, we decided to select a term that could preserve the meaning of missional community, but articulate it in contemporary cultural language.
The use of “city” communicates an outward, urban focus while “group” communicates the gathering of people who share this focus. In short, the particularly urban context of our mission (and the name of our church, Austin City Life) lent itself to the name City Groups. They are groups that are for the city, communities that are on an urban mission.