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Posts from the ‘Community’ Category

Our Mission and Methods: Now What?

February 17th, 2018

John Chandler

We’ve spent six weeks — in liturgy, community groups, and family meetings — talking through our Mission and Methods.

Our Mission describes our primary activity and what it will lead to: To form communities of Jesus to experience and expand God’s work of renewal together. Our Methods, listed below, describe how we pursue that primary activity.

(Listen Back to “Our Mission”)

So now what? Well, as mentioned in the series, the Leadership Team has set goals for us to pursue as a church in 2018 in each of these areas. We wanted those to be both measurable and realistic for his year, and you can find them listed below.

Of course, our growth in these Methods is intended to go far beyond these 2018 goals. Our hope is for much greater things.

There might be one or two of these below that you have a passion for. We hope you’ll both feed that passion and find ways to explore it, and in turn, offer it to our church community.

Below each method you’ll also find books we hope you’ll consider reading. These are some of the books that have helped form our thinking on this method. But we’d also love for you to help form our thinking.

The areas where you see clear need for us to improve as a church are likely the areas you have the most passion to offer. If that’s so, setup a coffee date with someone from leadership. You don’t have to bring answers or ideas to the table — just knowing you have a passion to help push us forward in these areas is a good place to start as we build longer term dreams around each.

That said, on to our Methods with their 2018 goals and suggested reading:

We learn practices of Jesus so that we can know, love and follow him. (Listen here)
1. Offer a Spring discussion series outlining teaching and practical exercises of spiritual disciplines.
2. Host a Fall workshop focused on a specific need (ie parenting, marriage, etc.) for spiritual practice within our community.
Suggested Reading:
The Spirit of the Disciplines, by Dallas Willard
Desiring the Kingdom: Worship, Worldview, and Cultural Formation, by James K.A. Smith

We cultivate relationships that lead to both friendship and formation. (Listen here)
1. Define relational and programming goals within the rhythm of our community for intimate and personal space.
2. Alongside the spring camping trip, plan an additional event in the fall that involves an overnight.
Suggested Reading:
Daring Greatly, by Brene Brown
Community and Growth, by Jean Lanier

We develop connections that teach us to how to love those who are not a part of a community of Jesus. (Listen here)
1. Launch a new website with specific content and CTAs to connect people into our Sunday liturgy.
2. Identify and help facilitate at least three interest based gatherings based on interests and influence already present in our church community.
Suggested Reading:
Speaking of Jesus: The Art of Not Evangelism, by Carl Medearis
Reclaiming Conversation, by Sherry Turkle

We seek opportunities to expand beyond a fellowship of sameness to reflect the breadth of God’s kingdom. (Listen here)
1. Form a team to research and propose practical steps by September for aMS to become a more ethnically diverse congregation.
2. Identify and partner with a non-majority “white” congregation for at least one liturgy or event.
Suggested Reading:
Disunity in Christ: Uncovering the Hidden Forces that Keep us Apart, by Christena Cleveland
The Next Evangelicalism: Freeing the Church from Western Cultural Captivity, by Soong-Chan Rah

We raise leaders who have the capacity to form communities of Jesus. (Listen here)
1. Identify and outline a minimum of 12 opportunities for tangible leadership (CG guides, classroom coordinators, etc.) within aMS and fill them.
2. Outline and implement an internship program for people with availability who want to have a professional ministry experience.
Suggested Reading:
Leading with a Limp, by Dan Allender
Finding Our Way: Leadership for an Uncertain Time, by Margaret Wheatley

Meet Madelynn: New Ministry Intern!

January 22nd, 2018

Chris Morton

We’re thrilled to have Madelynn join us as a ministry intern this year. Many of you, of course, know Madelynn and the presence she has had in our community for a few years. Read on, so you can get to know more about her, and her new role in the life of Austin Mustard Seed.

Madelynn has been discerning what her future holds, and considering church ministry as one of her specific interests. She came to us asking to get a firsthand experience of what day to day church ministry is like.

She is joining our staff meetings and ongoing conversations as much as she is able, but she is also taking on two primary responsibilities:

  1. She is serving as our week to week liturgy coordinator, scheduling roles in liturgy and making sure all of us who participate are on track each week.
  2. She is also leaning into some of her clear giftedness in connecting with diverse groups of people. She will be helping us explore what it looks like for our church community to form relationships with people from many different backgrounds who are curious about following Jesus.


Tell us about your relationship with Austin Mustard Seed? How did you land here? What do you love about it?

I’ve been with Austin Mustard Seed for about two and a half years now, and it’s part of what makes it so easy for me to call Austin my home. The first day I came to AMS, people noticed I was new and asked me to dinner that week. I could tell right off the bat they were a people who didn’t just go to church, they lived out their identity as the church in community.

I try to bring friends with me to church because I feel like the practice of Liturgy and the people of the church are apart of who I am now as well. Everyone I’ve brought to AMS, whether they’ve stuck around or not, has had a similar first experience to mine. I often hear from my friends that it felt like a family. Many of my friends are international students and come from cultures were family is central to their identity and sense of belonging. It is a high compliment that they have a familial experience of Mustard Seed.

What will you be doing as an intern? What part are you most excited about?

As an intern, I have a couple of roles. I organize the weekly volunteer teams for Liturgy, research and implement community outreach opportunities, facilitate community group discussions, personally follow up with visitors and members in our community, and explore areas of growth both personally and pastorally.

I am most excited to find ways AMS can more intentionally engage with communities outside of ours and be better neighbors.

Where are you from?

Cypress, TX- AKA the Northwest ‘burbs of Houston.

What was your favorite movie when you were six?

Probably something that had to do with dinosaurs or princesses.

What is your all-time favorite band you’ve seen or would like to see?

I was really excited to see John Mark McMillan in the fall, I feel like I’ve grown up with his music, and I pretty much played the borderlands album on loop while I was in Turkey last summer. Other than that, I think right now I’d love to see Chance the Rapper (also played his album on loop last summer).

What are three books you wish everyone at Austin Mustard Seed would read?

  • Walking on Water by Madeleine L’engle
  • East of Eden by John Steinbeck
  • If the Oceans Were Ink by Carla Power

What are you passionate about?

I love bringing people together from different cultures and backgrounds. I think I’ve experienced the God’s vision and kingdom most richly around my kitchen table with my international friends, where we drink tea, eat dinner, and speculate about life and God and belonging. It’s one of the reasons why I connect so strongly with the person of Jesus: he invited people of radically different backgrounds and beliefs to sit around the same table, ask questions, laugh, cry. He was all about the mess and beauty of communing with others. I think the world needs more of that.

What are your favorite restaurants in Austin?

Lucy’s Fried Chicken is hands down my favorite. After that, anywhere that has solid tacos or southern home food.

What is a verse or story in scripture that gives you hope and why?

The woman weeping at Jesus’ feet in John 13. It displays Jesus’ radical, countercultural love in a way that makes me feel welcome in his presence. It also shows how well Jesus loved and accepted the people society pushed the fringes. It’s not only a display of the unconditional love available to us, it’s a call to extend that love to others as well, no matter how different or similar they may be.

Giving Projections for 2018

November 28th, 2017

John Chandler

Our 2018 budget is preparing to be be finalized with growth opportunities in the following areas:

  1. Allocate additional resources to help our neighbors connect with our community so they can experience the rich relationships and meaning that aMS offers.
  2. Extend staff roles to address growing needs, especially in the areas of administration and kids.
  3. Strengthen our monthly giving so we can focus leadership and community resources into other needs and opportunities.
  4. Provide special giving opportunities throughout the year that meet needs beyond our church community rather than bolster our own church finances.

To best care for our finances, we need your help to project our giving for the year to come. Please complete the form below by Sunday, December 10.


Share your Catechesis Questions

November 14th, 2017

John Chandler

We’ve called our 8 weeks of Catechesis a discussion series. We hoped each week would be more than a sermon, but a conversation starter into Community Groups and beyond.

In the same way, we don’t see our last week of the series as the end of the discussion. We hope it continues into further discussions in the life of Austin Mustard Seed.

There have been many great questions along the way during lunches, and in community groups, but we want to make space for more. On Sunday, November 26, we’ll engage those questions. (And if there is more than we can tackle in a Sunday, we’ll bring some to the blog too!)

Please take a few moments to share your question(s) on the form below:

Community Groups for the Week of October 1

October 2nd, 2017

Chris Morton


If you want to honestly discuss what you do and don’t believe, then you need to participate in a Community Group this fall.

For the next eight weeks, we’ll be having a discussion we call “Catechesis.” The purpose of the Catechesis series is to discuss how our shared life is birthed out of what the Church has always believed.

According to Michael Frost, “Americans are waking up to the fact that people are sick to death of bad religion.” By, “bad religion” Frost means toxic beliefs that pin people up, and keep them from experiencing the freedom Jesus promises.

Sadly, these toxic beliefs are prevalent in many church communities. There are also political, social and celebrity voices who try tell people what to believe.

If we don’t dig into scripture and history, then we will be at the whim of the voices and agendas in our culture.

What most people do is just keep going. Life is too busy worry about these problems. But the fact is, if we don’t counter toxic beliefs, they creep up on us.

Digging into Beliefs in a Community Group

Imagine having a place where you could say what you really think.

Imagine being able to proudly say “I believe in Jesus, and I want him to take control of my life!”

Imagine being able to proudly say “I am not sure what believe and I don’t like some of the things I have heard the Church believes.”

Imagine a Community Group, where both perspectives, hopeful skeptics and passionate believers, can openly express themselves!

That’s what we hope to cultivate in our Catechesis Discussion Series.

Each week for nine weeks we’ll dig into the topics introduced in the Sunday liturgy. You can listen back here.

Groups will have a discussion guide that will help you to ask difficult questions, and encourage people to honestly share what they think.

If the only thing you get from participating in a Community Groups is a good meal, that would probably be enough.

If the only thing you get from participating in a Community Groups are new friends who you can honestly discuss your beliefs with, that would be even better.

But if you could get a good meal, deeper friendships, and grow in your faith in Jesus, that would definitely be worth it.

Many people will never take the time to truly consider their beliefs. Many people don’t have a safe community to have these difficult conversations. Don’t miss out on this opportunity.

How to Participate this Week

  1. Download the Community Group Discussion Guide. Before you go to your group, you’ll want to take time to read through it. You may want to pray about the questions and journal through them.
  2. Visit or join a Community Group. You can see a full list here.

Catechesis // What the church has always believed

September 27th, 2017

John Chandler

This coming week, we borrow an old word to begin a new discussion series called Catechesis. This ancient term describes how essential Christian beliefs were repeatedly taught to help followers of Jesus understand how to live. For us, this is a season to discuss how our shared life is birth out of what the Church has always believed. Each week, these discussion will begin in our Sunday liturgy and continue into Community Groups.

Week of 10/1 // What is belief?
Often, in our culture, Christianity is known as a set of beliefs. The “faithful” get so particular about their beliefs that churches form and divide around variations in these beliefs. We understand, though, that beliefs matter not because believing all the right things makes us right with God, or define who is in and out. Instead, we recognize that what we believe shapes how we live and love.

Week of 10/8 // What is the Bible?
The Bible is a sacred and historical set of texts at the heart of the Christian faith. Yet it is sometimes held in too high regard as being the only reliable source of truth. What authority should the Bible have in our time, our lives and in our church? How should we approach it as a sacred text while not placing it on an equal plane with God?

Week of 10/15 // What does it mean that God is a trinity?
The word trinity is never found in the Bible, yet for centuries, theologians have understood God to be a relational being of three in one. Why does it matter to the Christian faith that we see God as a trinity? What does this relational nature of God tell us about our own relational nature as humans?

Week of 10/22 // What is God’s relationship with creation?
The question already reveals a bit of the answer here — we understand that God is the creator and still at work in creation. What was God’s intent and ongoing hope for creation? If we believe God is good and perfect, why are humans and the whole of creation full of evil?

Week of 10/29 // What does it mean to be created in the image of God?
While we recognize that God is the creator, we also see that humans were given a special place in creation as those who bear the image of God. What does it mean for humans to be represent God in creation in this way? How does our understanding of this “Imago Dei” help us form an understanding of sin?

Week of 11/5 // Who is Jesus?
To understand Jesus is to understand this mystery of God dwelling on the earth in human form, somehow both divine and human at the same time. But to understand Jesus is to also understand how Jesus is active and present within the Trinity both before his human birth and after his resurrection.

Week of 11/12 // What happened at the cross?
Jesus was crucified by Romans on a hill outside Jerusalem two millennia ago. Christians understand that event to be a pivotal moment in history. We understand the implications of that week to be cosmic and personal — and everywhere in between. How should those events from thousands of years ago determine how how we live today and lean in to tomorrow.

Week of 11/19 // Who is the Holy Spirit?
In the final months before he was crucified, Jesus explained to his closest followers that he would be going away, and that it’s as for the best. After that, he explained, the Holy Spirit would come. So, why is the Holy Spirit so important that Jesus would say we are better off with the Spirit than a human Jesus?

Help us prepare our new Sunday spaces

February 21st, 2017

John Chandler

In March, Austin Mustard Seed will begin gathering for Sunday liturgy in the building of Rosedale Baptist Church. We are thankful for their hospitality, and excited for the opportunity to create a space that best serves our “work of the people.”

Here’s what we look forward to in this new season of Austin Mustard Seed:

  • A space to gather that we can arrange and decorate to best serve our liturgy… and that we can leave setup most weeks.
  • Classrooms of our own that we can furnish and equip to be inviting and safe… and a much shorter walk from the chapel.
  • A snug room for young families to care for their little ones…or maybe just let their kids toddle a bit.
  • Space to grow as we invite others to share in our liturgy… and with a cup of coffee in hand throughout.

But we’ll need some help to make the most of these spaces:

  • We’ve never had classrooms of our own, so we’ll require furnishings and fun stuff for each of them.
  • We’ll make sure to have plenty of new signs to help people find their way.
  • We need some additional equipment and decor to make ourselves at home in the chapel.

We want to raise $10,000 to make the best use of this space. If you are part of our community, we hope you’ll consider participating beyond your regular giving. If you are a friend of our community, thanks for considering how you might join us in this opportunity.

Here’s how you can participate:

  • Use this secure form to give online.
  • Send a check to our mailbox. Please be sure to indicate Rosedale Setup in the memo.
  • Give during the offering in our next few weeks of liturgy. Please put it in an envelope labeled Rosedale Setup so it gets properly designated.

Sign Up By Wednesday for Community First!

January 9th, 2017

Chris Morton

Community First is an innovative new approach to providing housing for formerly homeless men and women.

We’ll join them on Saturday, January 15 from 9am-12pm for their weekly Cowboy Brunch.

Meet at Community First at 9am, do some hard work work in the garden and around the village, and stay for a home grown, home cooked meal!

Everyone who is participating must fill out this new waiver—even if you have served before.

Please RSVP on Facebook or email Jessica Foust to let us know you’re coming.

Share Your Thoughts on the Liturgy Survey

October 11th, 2016

John Chandler

prairiewarblerAs we move towards Advent, we are inviting our community into a Common Life — a shared way of living for the year to come. Because this is an invitation to all to participate, we want to invite everyone’s voice.

This past Sunday, we talked about what liturgy means to our community. We spent time listening to how a handful of people within aMS find value in our weekly liturgy by hearing their responses to three simple questions:

  1. How has the way we do liturgy changed the way you think about church?
  2. How has liturgy been meaningful in your spiritual growth?
  3. Why is liturgy valuable enough to do every week?

And now we’d like to hear from you too. Your words and experiences will be used to help craft the language of our Common Life. Please post your responses to these questions on our Simply Liturgy Survey.

They will be available to the leadership team as the Common Life is drafted. Below the survey, you can read the responses of others, and choose to include yours there too.

Vocation and Midweek Groups

September 1st, 2016

Chris Morton


What if you and everyone at Austin Mustard Seed discovered how to live fully as the person God designed you to be?

What if each one us was actively engaging in what God is up to in our neighborhoods, work places, and cities?

How might that change our homes, our jobs, and our church community?

Exploring those questions is central to what we’ll be focusing on in our Fall Midweek Groups. We’ll begin Saturday, September 17th with the “Vocation Workshop“, a deep dive into the intersection of personality and Providence.

We’ll follow that with the Midweek Group Scrimmage on September 18, during Sunday Liturgy. On the 18th, you’ll have the chance to join up with one of our freshly “rebooted” Midweek Groups.

Throughout the Fall, you’ll have a chance to share your story with the women and men of your group, and help each other better understand vocation.

But before all that happens, I need your help!

I’ve created a short survey about Groups and Vocation.

By taking a few minutes to fill this out, you’ll help us gather the resources we need to explore this together.

Would you mind taking a few minutes to fill this out before Labor Day?