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As we at UA search for our vision and what God would have us be for the city of Austin, I keep coming back to our location and the fact that we are surrounded by a vibrant community of 50,000 students at the university, a downtown community of approximately 360,000, and a downtown workforce of 90,000 people. We don’t have to go to them, we are already among them, alot of them.

What would happen if we became a place in which our lives were lived for others and a place that is relevant to their interests and desires and open to listening to them? Would it be possible that people might say UA is

“… a place where the most ardent critic of Christianity would be bummed if we ceased to exist.” (Vern Streeter Harvest Church)

This post discusses a church in Montana in the process of building a community swimming pool and their dreams to impact the city for Christ. Here is a link to their Raise the Water CampaignHere is a post written about the Harvest church and on the effectiveness of church outreach using facilities. Here is a good article on how churches might change as the Gen-Xers and the millenial generation begins to influence the church.

“During the last 25 years, the ideal campus goal was highly visible large campuses that many times resembled Christian shopping malls for the spiritual consumers. However, what we know of the younger generations suggests they value participation more than performance and relationships more than highly structured programming. In his book The Millennium Matrix, Rex Miller says, “We will see a shift away from mega-churches to smaller scale facilities that fit well within their neighborhoods. Congregations will shift back toward being more rooted in the local community, connected perhaps to a larger assembly.” Like Miller, many sociologists are forecasting that our modern phenomena of living fragmented lives “alone in our masses” will be corrected by the “post modern” generations. They will find connection in community and their churches will not be empty the other six days of the week, but instead will offer gathering space for the community in which they reside. Many future church facilities will look more like community centers in close proximity to residential neighborhoods. In these new facilities, informal gathering areas and community oriented specialty areas will be the most important and used spaces.”

That is a beautiful idea. Our vision on the 24/7 team at UA is to build an outdoor amphitheater covered by a permanent tent so that the community can use the space. UT students coming to watch movies, concerts, study, get coffee. Families coming for various productions, movies, etc. People at work taking time to come for lunch or to help with a project for the homeless during their break. The idea is to get them to come and then get them to help serve the poor, the marginalized. We learn to love them as God loves them, and then we ask them to help us love others and in so doing we develop meaningful relationships and each day we become more like our savior and He is glorified and rejoices in the love that is in this place. And, most importantly God rejoices when we take this love into the areas of the city and to the people of the city that need Him.

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