Why We Love Lesslie

January 23rd, 2014 | John Chandler

This past Sunday, we discussed at a quote from missionary and writer Lesslie Newbigin’s The Gospel in a Pluralistic Society.

“The only hermeneutic of the gospel is a congregation of men and women who believe it and live by it.”

You might not have ever heard of him, but Lesslie Newbigin has had a powerful influence on Austin Mustard Seed.

New_officeLesslie Newbigin lived from 1909 – 1998. The bulk of his years in ministry took place in India, where he lived as a missionary with the fledgling Church of South India. However, Newbigin is most remembered for the writing and lecturing he did after returning to the U.K.

Rather than returning to a “Christian Nation,” Newbigin saw many of the same signs of pluralistic religion he had dealt with in India. India had been overtly religious, full of the worship of multiple gods and idols. Newbigin felt that the unquestioning acceptance of rationalism had created a new set of idols to worship. Whereas India was “pre-Christian,” the U.K. had become “Post-Christian.”

Approaching this new reality would require the churches in the Western world to stop acting like traditional establishments and start to act like upstart missionary churches.

We are forced to do something that the Western churches have never had to do since the days of their own birth-to discover the form and substance of a missionary church in terms that are valid in a world that has rejected the power and influence of the Western nations.”

The term Newbigin used to describe this approach “missional.”

At Austin Mustard Seed, we want to be a churched marked by Story, Wholeness and Presence. The story of God tells of his mission to create a holy people. Working towards wholeness is how we join in God’s mission. Being present in this time and place, Austin, Texas in 2014, is what it looks like to be a part of that mission.

Austin has many people who do not know about Jesus. Austin also has many people who have been burned by religious organizations.

That’s why we are constantly asking “what does it mean to be a church FOR North/Central Austin?”

What we want is to be a missional Church.

We are thankful to Newbigin for helping us think about what it means to be the church today.