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Monthly Archives: December 2007

Great pictures and stories.

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Went for a ride yesterday with my friend Dean to explore life in a neighborhood very much unlike mine. The “pizza slice” area of Austin bounded by IH35 to the east, Rundberg to the north, and Hwy 183 to the south is teetering on the brink. Pockets of working class homes surrounded by older, rundown apartment buildings, warehouses, and miles of retail strip centers provide witness to lives in various states of existence. What looks like it was once a community of middle-class hope now looks closer to a disjointed mixture of immigrants, the marginalized, the elderly, and the poor seeking only to survive. Yes, there are still areas that are well-kept and inviting, but for the most part the area is in serious need of revitalization. 

 I teeter on the see-saw between hope and despair on most days, and as I drove around I kept thinking, “What if…?” but would soon think, “It’s hopeless…!” I can only rely on what I understand Larry James preaches, that it is in the empowering of those within the community to resolve their own issues that success will be achieved. And, as I looked around at the many adults I saw no hope in them, or at least hope that has been slowly seeping away. But, when I would see children I would see hope, the glimmer of what is yet to be. I think it is in fueling these sparks of hope that success will be found.

I am enough of a realist to know that we will always have neighborhoods like this, but I am enough of an idealist to know that we can rally round our children and the hope they give us all. So, when I found the following article from the Dallas Morning News on Larry’s blog today, I had a renewed since of hope.

Together, we can decide to join God where He is already at work, if only we are willing to have hope. In this Advent season we are called to Hope and to Wait for what is yet to come, but in the New Year I would propose that we get off our couches and get busy.

WWJB Flyer I haven’t seen it yet, but the reviews are favorable. Opens in Austin Dec 7 at Regal Arbor Cinema.

As an example in the continuing adventures of missing the point, people turn a good thing into an individual complaint. “Dude, the computer is not for you!”

Read the posted NY Times article on the “XO” Laptop with a MIssion.

Here is a great article on partnershipsI’m thinking about UrbanConnection Austin possibilities as I read this post, and what they looks like for Austin. 

I’m really impressed with Willow Creek and their desire to keep
themselves honest. I know there has been criticism that the Reveal
study is just another marketing ploy, but read the post below from Bill
Donahue on the Group Life blog, and enjoy the refreshing honesty with
what is happening in the church regarding small groups.

Of course, living in the suburbs I’m interested in what this looks like in my context.

The Emerging Church and Small Groups: What does the future hold? (Part 2)From Bill Donahue

House churches, neo-monastic communities, ministry teams, small groups, and neighborhood gatherings, and missional communities are all examples of the Church becoming increasingly communal as it becomes increasingly mission-focused. This emphasis among emerging church adherents is refreshing, many of whom are 18–35, though not limited to that age. Less interested in building churches, emerging church leaders strive first to become the church, seeking a dynamic and fluid communal life centered in the places where people work and live. Being the church is essential—that means serving neighbors, a presence in the community and a desire to live in proximity to those not affiliated with a church.

Group life in this emerging environment is more organic and less programmatic. But nonetheless, small groups of people—gathered for prayer, study, service, “hanging out” at the coffee shop—are central to the way of life espoused by these various communities.

As I speak with emerging leaders and communal architects, it is clear that smaller groups and expressions of community are essential to their mission. Just this week I met with a number of leaders. Some are moving into apartments, starting a small core community of 5-7, and beginning to connect with others. The goal is to become the church in that space, and then to replicate that. One leader envisioned an area of apartments and rental properties filled with such groups, describing it as “missional acupuncture.” He targets these areas because here in Chicagoland, over 40% of people live in such areas and less than 5% of churches have any ministry there. These are dense, small areas, ideal for starting missional groups and communities that embrace the value of small groups but have a more organic fluidity because of relational proximity and density.

In suburban culture, there is a great desire to connect and recover a communal life lost during the fragmentation of the modern era. As a result, neighborhood gatherings are beginning to become the hub of community life, spawning small groups, short-term learning communities, serving teams and a variety of ad hoc gatherings. While some house churches are larger (40–60) many new house church movements have 9–12 people per church, and intentionally reproduce if the group gets much larger. Reaching people where they live requires a model that is flexible and easily reproducible, void of the constraints of traveling to a church building across town.

Willow Creek Association Group Life: The Emerging Church and Small Groups: What does the future hold? (Part 2)

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