In my work with campus ministers and students around the nation, I often tell the story of UT and its missional communities. Though I attended the University of Texas and grew up in Austin, I do my best to not be biased when writing these blogs and speaking in public. Thus, when I am in Columbus, Ohio, I encourage the Buckeyes, in New York City I support what God is doing at Columbia, and in College Station, TX I even try to compliment the Aggies! However, that being said, there are some truly unique things going on at UT, and sharing them with the rest of the nation is something of a privilege.
Other bloggers on this site have been charged with writing about the ins and outs of ministry partnerships at UT and how they’re developed. I on the other hand get to focus a bit more on the results of those partnerships.
Over the last 5 years, a missional community movement unlike any other in the nation has formed in Austin. Yes, these missional communities are special in their emphasis on community embedding, but even more unique is the manner in which the movement has sprung up.
From its inception, the desire for Missional Communities at UT has come not from one Christian group, but many. Though there were specific leaders, ministers and students who clamored for a concerted missional effort…an attempt to saturate the campus with intentional Christians that would be embedded in the culture around them…it was not until around 2005 that a number of those Christian groups came together behind the vision.
Methodists, Evangelicals, Charismatics, they all agreed to begin a pilot program of sorts, an experiment in mission to send out a small group of their student leaders to begin the first Missional Communities at UT. What started as around 20 different MCs, grew over the next 4 years to over 200 separate missional groups of students. An unprecedented movement of campus missional communities, rooted in an even less common readiness to unite behind a common vision by multiple churches and pastors from different backgrounds.
Sharing the Story
I get emails sometimes…
They’re great, really. Campus ministers wanting to learn more, students who want stories about conversions.
I take the time to explain the principles behind our missional communities, the biblical and social framework for them. Our material helps individual groups, encourages specific students to tweak their livelihoods to more accurately reflect living as missionaries in the university.
For the entire culture of Christians on a campus to really change however, takes a deeper shift. Prayer, across the entire body, sows the desire for transformation among leaders. Trust and conversation in the midst of that prayer ties like-minded ministers and students together, regardless of denomination or ethnicity. Working with one another, leads to a communal learning experience…one that changes a generation of believers.
200 missional communities do not just spring up overnight. God grows them, and he does this in a soil that has been well tilled. Unity, Prayer, Mission…they do not do well apart from each other, but thrive when they lean on one another for strength. Let’s hope that as “missional communities” continue to grow in popularity and implementation nationwide, that the need for this mutual dependence is not lost on anyone.