Instead of continuing to spend such energy trying to make outworn patterns of institutional life serve us, it seems appropriate to devote more attention to the task of creating new forms of common life that may, over time, allow a new consensus to emerge. And it seems probably that the relearning of the meaning of the Christian faith and life is most likely to occur in communities that are small enough to permit all their members to participate fully in the process of reflection, decision, and action.
One could probably describe such communities in many ways, but for the purposes of this chapter, let us imagine thousands of communities whose members in an intentional, disciplined fashion do the following things:
1. Pray together.
2. Share their joys and struggles.
3. Study the context in which they find themselves.
4. Listen for God’s voice speaking through Scripture.
5. Seek to discern the obedience to which they are being called.
6. Engage in common ministry.
I take no credit for the words above. (They are directly quoted from an essay called the Up From the Grassroots by E. Dixon Junkin in The Church Between Gospel and Culture.)
But I resonate with the words above, which is why I’m sharing them here. They are the heart of what we are trying to create with Austin Mustard Seed. These words were written 15 years ago, and I think God has spent the last 15 years tuning my heart to read them, and to try to shape the communities they describe.