I knew the conference would be different. When we drove into the parking lot of the "For the City Center," hand written signs on paper sheets guided us to the entrance. No buses or vans emptied their cargo into the parking lot; normal people carpooling like Austin residents would want us to, climbed out of their cars and made their way to the building.
Inside, Austin Stone Community Church has done an awesome job to provide a contemporary and durable space for their intentions there. We registered and made our way into a gym-like room and sat around round tables--about 20 of them. M&M's and peanuts in plastic plates were our center piece and bowls turned over with a hand written number on it told us we were at table 6.
When we started Hugh Halter stood on our level between two white boards and before a screen with one-color, PowerPoint slides projected on it. Senior member Bob L sat on a stool to the side like a father watching his son bat at a Little League game.
I was home.
If you have been to all the conferences I have attended, led, and will attend, you know you don't get this kind of vibe from the environment or leaders from the others. You usually get the latest and greatest technology, light show, and best-selling authors, who have come to inspire the masses.
At the missio intensive, Hugh, Matt, and Bob offer, you not only hear their story and information, but you have time to share with your team and those with you at your tables. It's a nice change from sitting in an arena listening and watching a projected image of someone data dump on you. (I'm still registered for some of those this year with my team--Just sharing my preference of style.)
What is this about? I my words it's about gathering and scattering the church as "God's missionary hands" to people who long for something tangible of God to hold on to in this crazy life. Less show and program. More equipping and sending. I used the phrase for a long time that church is a "mission outpost where every member is a missionary in his or her own mission field." The missional movement and Missio calls for the same Church-as-missionaries posture. My heart, as we used to say, resonates with them.
I like the voice The Tangible Kingdom folks bring to the conversation. I am pleased Legacy Church gets some of this and we can join the movement to get the church back into its mission field rather than only gathering to feed the sheep.
Steve Pate and I have written about this stance in our book, Evangelism Where you Live. Check it out.