Austin hosted the Verge Conference, where about 2000 pastors and ministry leaders from around the world gathered to consider how to transform their cities through missional communities.
Austin hosted the Burn Conference, where hundreds of Austinites and several national worship leaders gathered for 50 hours of united prayer and worship to see our city transformed.
Austin also hosted World Vision’s “Hole in Our Gospel” event, where a hundreds of Austinites gathered to hear about how our city can bring transformation to impoverished communities around the world by providing food, water, education, employment, and the gospel of Jesus.
It struck me how each of these events gathered a different set of people – people with their own specific “revival lens.” I have written before about how I believe there are generally three ways that different people pursue transformation in their city. I generally categorize them as Mission, Prayer, and Justice.
Folks at the Verge believe a city will be transformed when the Body of Christ is equipped and mobilized to plant missional communities in every pocket of the city – every neighborhood, every school, every ethnic group, every workplace, etc. They rightly believe that the Body of Christ has forgotten it’s mission to live and share the gospel. They seek to see all believers forsake their club mentality and get out into the world to bless it.
Folks at the Burn believe a city will be transformed when the Body of Christ is on it’s knees in prayer, worship, and repentance. They believe change starts with God’s presence being ushered into a community. They rightly believe that the Body of Christ has forgotten that they can do nothing without God. They seek to see all believers repent of sin and forsake their clever human plans and simply unite in prayer so that the spiritual battle for our cities is won.
Folks at the Hole in Our Gospel believe a city will be transformed when the Body of Christ is meeting the needs of the city. Now this event, to be clear, was focused on impoverished communities outside of the United States. Still, it’s the same revival lens through which many believe the cities in our country will be transformed. They believe change starts with meeting the needs of people and laboring to solve systematic injustices in a city. They rightly believe that the Body of Christ has forgotten it’s call to serve the “least of these.” They seek to see all believers step out of their comfort zones and step into the broken communities in their city.
Can We Work Together?
I find it interesting that very few of the same people attended each of these events. It usually happens that “birds of a feather, flock together,” if you know what I mean. I’m not sure that this is all together wrong. I suspect it is quite natural that we gather closest to those with a similar revival lens.
However, I do think it is important that leaders from each of these “camps” be in relationship with one another, pray together regularly, and collectively develop a vision bigger than their own camp, each seeing their part in reaching the whole city. This requires deep relationships and deep humility.
I hope instead of judging each other, we’re able to honor one another and find ways to see from the others’ perspective. We have a lot to learn from one another for sure. We should praise God that all three “camps” hosted wonderful events in the city we love and serve.
Justin Christopher is the director of Campus Renewal Ministries at the University of Texas and author of Campus Renewal: A Practical Plan for Uniting Campus Ministries in Prayer and Mission. He gives leadership to the Campus House of Prayer and the missional community movement at the University of Texas.