Once a week I write a pastoral letter to the good people of the West Congregation of the Austin Stone Community Church. I will occasionally add some of those letters here.
Dear West Family
When Kevin Peck first started trying to recruit The Lester’s to Austin, he told Sue and I that Austin was the best city in the world to live in. I had to put that through my Kevin filter, which is a device that I use often. It takes everything that Kevin says and tones it down to levels of well, rationality for normal people. He is the most positive person I have ever met. He teaches me lots about hope and faith and hyperbole every day. I need friends like him in my life.
Well this week, it seems, that US News and World Report found data that at least partially represents Kevin’s claim. They found (for the second year in a row) that Austin is the best city in the US to live, and by default best in the US is best in the world right? It works for the World Series anyway.
I digress, you can see a link to the findings here.
This is incredible news and should lead us to prayerful response as Christian Austinites. As I thought it through with Sue this afternoon, I think there are six prayerful ways we should respond.
1. Thanksgiving. Thank God for the common grace of great cities. For the enjoyment he gives us of music, food, art, culture, architecture and traffic. That last one is just there for your sanctification. But seriously, thank God that we get to live somewhere where lots of other people want to live.
2. Stewardship. Ask God to show us how we would steward this moment in this place. I am very sobered by the thought that God would have us here in this place in this time, and so I want to make sure that we as a family make the most of that by being a blessing to a place that is blessing us a great deal. Why would I be so privileged to be here, and how do I make the most of that privilege for the good of others? I am praying through those questions.
3. Justice and Mercy. One of the things that troubled me about reading those findings is that I know that there would be many in the city who don’t find it great at all as they are vulnerable and have fallen through the cracks. That is obviously true in every city on this fallen planet, but the people of God should be desirous to bring outposts of heavenly human flourishing not just to ourselves but to those on the margins of our great city. Ask God to show you and us how we could extend the circles of blessing we have to more people.
4. Flourishing. Ask God to pour out continued blessing on the city so that it might continue to be a place where people (not just us) thrive and flourish.
5. Revival. Ask God to bring about not just numerical growth in the city but revival in the church! Imagine if people were flocking here not just because it was hip, but because God was meeting people here.
6. Sending. Part of stewardship of living in such a great place at this time should be that we send people away from this place continually to take the good news of the gospel to cities, villages and towns all over the world. I love that The Stone has this as such an established part of its DNA, and that we have sent so many already. Pray for those who are out there. Pray for many more to go.
There we go. Lots to pray about and think about. If you would like to pray with others, I would encourage you to come along to Third Sunday Prayer this Sunday. It is a marvelous time.
I get very excited when I think about the impact you awesome people could have on this crazy city. Go do it.
See you Sunday.