Month: August 2010

Missional Community Resources

Here are some Missional Community Resources that we have created and/or use:

Gospel Principles & Practices of MC

Shared Leadership in MCs

The 3 Layers of Mission

The 3 Marks of Missional Community

3 Steps for MC Multiplication

10 Tips for Missional Community Leaders

8 Ways to Easily Be Missional

For more resources like these, check out the resources at http://www.gcmcollective.com/resources/. Be sure to register for the GCM Collective Conference, where new resources, talks, and breakouts will be launched for missional community!

Environmental Discipleship (Pt 2)

In the previous post, I reviewed part of Steven Bouma-Prediger’s book For the Beauty of the Earth: a Christian vision for creation care. We noted that, at some level, “authentic Christian faith requires ecological obedience.” Obstacles to that obedience can include incorrect theology, lack of value, indifference in discipleship. Bouma-Prediger underscored both theology and value: “We care for only what we love. We love only what we know. We truly know only what we experience.”

Jesus Died for Creation

“Put the Bible on the shelf for a couple decades”, that’s what Thomas Berry suggests as the way forward. However, Bouma-Prediger unpacks a robust, concise biblical theology of creation as the rationale for creation care in chapter four. His close reading of Genesis, Job, and Colossians reveals the inherent goodness of creation contra the anti-material impulse of evangelical faith. Noting God’s covenant with creation, the God-centered Creator theme in Job, and Christ as agent, redeemer, and lord of creation, the Scriptural weight moves the reader to repentance over a low view of creation and into a high view of God’s good and broken world. After all, Jesus reconciles all things on heaven and on earth “by the blood of his cross” (Col 1:20). In short, ecology or environmental discipleship is a gospel issue because Jesus died to reconcile and heal creation and offer it back to the Creator. Offering a balanced reflection on our responsibility to care for the earth, he writes:

It is a false to claim that concern for the earth is not  legitimate feature of authentic Christian discipleship as it is to claim that care for the earth is the sum total of what it means to be a disciple of Christ.

Alternative Environmental Ethics

Pressing into the nuances of ecological ethics, the author present a case based on systematic theology, followed by an examination of faulty motivations for eco-ethics. He exposes the wisdom, folly and idolatry associated with the following views: Conservationist Movement (too anthropocentric), Rights of Future Generations (appeals to morality and justice), Animal Rights (not ecocentric), Biocentrism (life-centered not God-centered), Wilderness Movement (displaces humanity), Land Ethic (learn to think like a mountain, insightful but limited) & Deep Ecology, which acknowledges the intrinsic moral value of the natural world (this puts humans and all biotic life on the same plane).

Who You Are Not What You Do?

Interestingly, the author finishes out the book and his case by arguing for “the kind of people we ought to be” not what kind of things we should do. While this virtue driven ethic has great merit, it leaves the reader hanging. How should I act on these values? Where do I start? Recycling, eco-tours, political action, animal rights? For those conversant in Ethics, he focuses on arteology not teleology, virtue not ultimate purpose. Of course, ultimate purpose should inform our values. If the future of this world is a renewed creation, then it follows that we should care about the present creation.

He prescribes a set of values that are endemic to Christian character and essential in environmental discipleship. Since creation has integrity and value, we owe it respect and receptivity. Since the earth is finite, we must exercise the virtues of self-restraint ad frugality, not exploiting the earth and living within our means. The earth is fruitful; therefore, we must sustain its fruitufulness. You get the drift. A fresh look at creation care, indeed. The author holds up the pure value of being a certain kind of disciple, rather like Christ, and allowing those values to address God’s creation. If we are true to who we are in Christ, we will care for the earth out of Christlike character. Striking. Convicting.

Evaluation of the Book

By keeping his case close to Scripture, Bouma-Prediger forces conservative Evangelicals to reconsider their anti-environmental or apathetic view of creation. The case is also made close to Christ, being a certain kind of consistent disciple. It’s a challenge to extend Christian obedience into all realms, not just areas of familiar morality. Well-written and informed, this book deserves a place on your shelf. However, a companion volume on practical environmental discipleship will also be necessary, something that the author does not provide.

Austin City Life Vision for the Fall

We had a great Partner’s Brunch today downtown as St. Mary’s cathedral. It was so great to see a lot of people I have missed over the past few weeks. For those that missed, here is a partial update of what our church family talked about. If you’re not a partner and would like to join, be sure to sign up for Partners Class this Fall.

EVIDENCES OF GRACE IN ACL

  • Praise God for our staff who proved that pastors are replaceable but Jesus isn’t in my absence this summer. They preached, served, and led well this summer.
  • Praise God for a better, nicer, cheaper, more city centre location to gather on Sundays–Ballet Austin–staring September 12!
  • Molly C. shared how God’s grace has been helping her getting out of debt with her City Group’s help!
  • Kristan L. shared how grateful she is for ordinary graces like a job and a healthy family.
  • Kati B. shared how she shared the gospel with six of her co-workers.

AUSTIN BALLET on SEPT 12!

Our Sunday gathering move to Ballet Austin is an expression of our continued commitment to city renewal. We will be focusing on this very practically this Fall. As we move, we need all hands on deck to make this transition happen smoothly. Jump in, give grace, pray for those in that area of the city that we can reach. Pray for opportunities with staff and the hundreds of families that go to Austin Ballet every week.  How could we serve them, serve Ballet Austin?

KIDS LIFE

  • Thank you Robie for leading Kids Life so well for the past few months!
  • New leadership: 3 leader approach: 1) Megan D: lead on Sundays 2) Kristian Lovelace scheduling 3) General pastoral leadership from Jay to move to family integrated model of children’s ministry.
  • Excited about new leadership and vision. Older and younger elementary and even middle school for 2 of our kids.
  • Reminder that raising a child takes a church not just a family. Love our kids, Show them Jesus, Keep them Safe!
  • We are making progress as a 4-Self Church: self-governing, self-theologizing, self-reproducing, self-sustaining. This next year we hope to appoint some elders. A Church Planting Intern will join us in December to plant a church in Round Rock next year.

CITY  GROUPS: 11 More City Groups in 2011!

  • Participating in a City Group is essential to really living out commands of Christ to be the church to one another and the city. Remember that City Groups aren’t an event but a community you’ve been knit together with, to share life and truth, pray for one another and the city, engage peoples and cultures, and love one another.
  • City Groups at Austin City Life are we can be the church to one another and the city. More City Groups means more people living in the Gospel, in Community, and on Mission. City Groups are where we see the city of Austin and Austinites renewed by the Gospel, one neighborhood at a time!
  • WHY 11? There is nothing special about 11…it could be 7….it could be 15. The point is we want to cast a “vision” going into next year as we call men in our church to step up and lead. We have 8 City Groups right now, 11 more in 2011 would give us 19, and from there we anticipate each group multiplying once a year. So 38 City Groups in 2012, 76 City Groups in 2013, 152 City Groups by 2014…..and so the story goes as the Gospel renews Austin!
  • HOW? First off, by Gods grace and prayer. Also, we will be making a call for leaders all of September and October leading up to our CG Leader training on Saturday October 16th. Contact Nate or Jonathan if you are interested in joining this training! This will kickstart a process for all potential leaders will they will be coached through a season of “incubation” as they develop their: 1) calling 2) core 3) identified mission. We anticipate “celebrating” the births of these new communities throughout 2011.

RENEW the CITY

  • In city centre Austin 76% don’t believe Jesus is the Son of God. Let’s show and tell him that he is with grace and love. Our return to a downtown gathering is an expression of our commitment to the heart of the city–t0 usher in city renewal through the gospel–spiritually, socially, and culturally.
  • This Fall we will focus on incarnational Discipleship in Domains of the City. Consider which domains you work, live, or play in–Education, Government, Music & Arts, Social Services, Business & Tech, Media & Entertainment, Sports & Recreation. Incarnational Mission: Jesus lovingly and redemptively inserted himself into our world. Whose world are we inserting ourselves into? Are you making disciples or just making a nice life?