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People across America are experimenting with new (and old) ways of being church together. These new movements in the faith are less focused on what they are not and more focused on who they desire to become. Intentional faith communities, house churches, new monasticism, and other movements are answering questions left unspoken by many of those leaving churches behind. Why would I want a theoretical family? Why do I need a metaphorical meal? Is this bigger than what happens inside a building a couple of days a week?
We invite you to dive into these questions and much more in the M.A.G.S. cohort in Abilene, Texas.
A Church in Every Living Room
If you know anything about Abilene, then you know that we have a lot of churches. Few cities fit the “church on every corner” cliché better. So why would we invite you to take part in a missionary residency here?
In a city where average congregational attendance ranges anywhere from less than a hundred to well over a thousand, we have seen the power of seeking smaller expressions of the church. In keeping with Jesus’ promise that “where two or more are gathered in my name, there I am also,” we find Jesus in our gatherings of two, three, and more. Similar to the way that Jesus sent out thirty-six pairs of his followers (Luke 10), we have been sent into ACU, our neighborhoods, and Abilene as missionaries to go and make disciples.
We have seen time and again how powerfully these small bands of disciples can follow God on mission—that these small expressions of the church fit into the smaller nooks and crannies of society that often elude traditional churches. This is our hope, our goal, our vision…the church in every neighborhood. In every apartment building. In every living room, coffee shop, and pub. A vibrant family of Jesus in close reach, both geographically and culturally, of every person in the world.
A Movement in Community
Every movement needs leaders, early adopters and adapters who begin living into a new way of life before the path forward is obvious. This is where you come in. In this one-year residency, we will help you work through a variety of questions in regard to your calling:
What are my gifts in the church?
Where am I called to go on mission with God?
Who am I called to go on mission with?
What is holding me back?
What do I need to do now to make positive steps on this journey?
In the Abilene cohort, you will take part in a way of life designed to help you answer questions like this through the guidance and wisdom of God and those around you. You will learn how to radically refocus your attention, something that we have found to be necessary for the sustainable life of the church as well as the development and growth of new churches.
Additionally, you will have a number of other experiences and opportunities through your time in Abilene. You will:
Go on regular retreats with your cohort and others who are learning what it means to follow God on mission.
Take trips to different communities and organizations who reflect the Kingdom in a variety of ways.
Engage in one-on-one relationships with experienced life/spiritual coaches.
Be part of a community of practice that is now on five continents, engaging cultures around the world.
Train undergraduate students for God’s mission through the Missional Life internship.
At the core of all of this, as previously stated, is the question of attention. What has your attention? What has our attention as the church? And finally, what do our lives and the church look like when we begin to let God refocus our attention? For many of us whose name doesn’t begin with “Saint,” this will likely shake things up a bit.
Laura and Rosten Callarman have been married since 2012, but have been joining God in mission together for quite a bit longer than that. Their shared missional experience includes two years in an intentional faith community, co-planting two house churches in Abilene, and the beginnings of a new intentional faith community and missional training/retreat center. Laura just finished teaching a course at ACU entitled “Foundations of the Missional Life.” She enjoys reading, gardening, and teaching. Rosten works at Monks, a local coffee shop, and enjoys writing, music, and wrestling with their puppy, Sydney. They are both passionate about communicating the richness and beauty of the Gospel through a variety of methods, but especially through a way of life shared with others.
We invite you to join our little community of radical attention payers. You will take part in powerful practices that challenge the way that you envision church. You will learn how to seek, find, and experience the church in its smallest forms. You will experience what happens when the people of God pledge to simply show up to God and each other with all of their heart, soul, mind, and strength.
What would it look like for a Christian community to be formed completely, powerfully, and beautifully out of the greatest commandments? To love the Lord our God with all of our heart, soul, mind, and strength, and to love our neighbors as ourselves? What happens when we make this the core of our attention, out of which all of our activity as individuals and a community flow? Join us as we find out together!