Tuesday, April 15, 2014

City Renewing Church | City Life Church in Austin, Texas: What could a city renewing church look like in Worcester, MA?

Emmaus City Church Worcester MA Missional Community Soma Acts 29

A city renewing church exists to renew cities socially, spiritually, and culturally with the gospel of Jesus.

I've expressed this before, but appreciation and gratitude roll on like a river when you're continuing to pray and seek through God's Word and His Spirit how He would have His church declare and display the good news that Jesus has come in your city  and God provides a helping hand through His church elsewhere.

City Life Church is in Austin, Texas. Not quite the same as Worcester, Massachusetts. They're in a city five times the size of Worcester. Their state has 266,000+ square miles. Our state has 8,000+ square miles. They're in the South. We're in New England. Their city's slogan is "Keep Austin Weird." I think Worcester would also like the slogan "Keep Worcester Weird." We have a passion for the environment, the arts, and activists in Worcester like Austin. And we're skeptical of authority and institutions, especially ones with religious bents, like they are, too. 

But as the church, whether our life is in Austin or in Worcester, we should be able to step into our cities and shine lights that are culturally sensitive, while also counterculture to the kingdoms of self. We should represent Jesus' Kingdom above all, shining as lights in the dark places to offer the holistic transformation that only our Creator, Savior, Redeemer, and King can bring through His good news (i.e. gospel).

"We believe that churches should give life, not take life from the city. This happens in various ways, but the primary way we renew the city is through neighborhood churches of city groups. City groups aim to renew the city through ministry to the marginalized and the privileged in various domains of the city (neighborhoods, the Arts, Business, Social Services, etc). The gospel changes people and changed people change the city."

"The gospel changes people and changed people change the city." I love that quote. I also love to watch and listen to their video about City Life Church. Here are a few additional quotes I love from the video:

" ... We began to meet with people and ask them what kept them from Christ, what keeps them from church. We began in just our living room with seven people trying to be that church that loved the city and asked the question, 'What would it look like for a church to so believe the gospel that it changed the city?' So we began to serve the marginalized. We also spent time with intellectuals and our coworkers ... "
" ... As we spent time together, we began to multiply these little communities; we called them City Groups where we can be the church to one another and the city. And as we did that, we began to see God's grace at work. As these City Groups have multiplied, we've formed four neighborhood churches  North, South, Central, and East  that are all loving the city and loving their neighbors and articulating the gospel in a way that's meaningful and clear to our neighbors ... "
" ... It's been messy. It's been imperfect. But our hope is that we all cling to a perfect Christ. We're being perfected by the Spirit of God. And we're learning things along the way  how to better start City Groups, how to better preach, how to better disciple – and we're so hopeful that the success of being a city renewing church doesn't rest on us, not because we're doing it in our strength, but in the gospel of Jesus and the strength He provides. We're hopeful that God will continue to be faithful to His gospel. He'll continue to work with imperfect people who magnify the perfection and grace of Jesus. ... " 

I share this City Life Church video and vision because it helps to capture the heartbeat that we feel God has given for Emmaus City Church. We're an imperfect people clinging to a perfect Christ. And we're learning things along the way with Him as we seek to be His church, benefiting Worcester by serving the people here and sacrificing for them as Jesus did and does.

City Groups are missional communities of people that share life and mission together.

In fact, this summer, we'll be forming our first City Group, or Missional Community. Together, we will shape how we love Worcester, one people group (i.e. people + places, names + faces) at a time whether it's in a neighborhood or through a network of people we know. To whomever God leads us, one things is for sure. We're going to need His grace for ourselves, each other and the people we will be striving and sacrificing for in order to share the love of Jesus with them.

Emmaus City Church Worcester MA Missional Community City Group Soma Acts 29

And we'll also need to remember this as it states on City Life's City Groups web page:
"We should be up front about our City Groups. They will disappoint you. We’ve discovered that before real community can happen, people have to abandon their ideal version of community. The great news is that City Groups have a solution to disappointment; we point one another to Jesus who doesn’t disappoint. We are all imperfect people clinging to a perfect Christ. We call this gospel community, relationships that put Jesus’s forgiveness and love right in the middle. It’s fun, hard, and rewarding."

"It's fun, hard, and rewarding." Thank God that by His Spirit Jesus is with us through it all. And thank God that He has provided us with City Life Church as an example for where we're going and the Who we need to follow to get there and be His church in Worcester, Massachusetts  the city no longer forsaken.

Curiosity piqued? Something inside you being stirred? Go ahead and connect
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