Category Archives: The Dones

A Second Reformation — of Community

This new breed of believers views church as a set of relationships rather than a set of prescribed practices and is free to embrace treasures such as contemplation, silence and solitude, devalued by the Reformation, and refresh them for this new age. This new ‘reformed’ church is free from clericalism to find the space to rediscover church as a deep expression of solidarity and love in community. And it is freed from the endless dance around the holy grail of orthodoxy to journey with others to discover what it means to live Jesus’ call to live life to the full.

These new forms of church are small and numerous, fleet of foot and flexible in form. They meet in cafes and community centres, pubs and gyms. They will never have the power, prestige or public face of the traditional church. This is ‘a church from below’, a church with a purpose shaped not by the limited arguments of the Reformation age of right belief, but by the common hunger for spiritual community and authenticity in the service of Christ.

Paul Bradbury is Pioneer Mission Coordinator for Church Mission Society.

Graduate from Church?

Graduate. Time for change.I know a couple of people who are getting ready to graduate, which got me thinking..,

Several years ago, I was encouraging a middle aged couple to host a Bible study in their home. They asked if I was planning on coming. I said I wasn’t. They were clearly hesitant, uncertain they were qualified to host the study. I asked them how long they had been Christians and attending the church. I don’t remember their exact answer, but it was decades. Then I asked them how much longer it might take for them to be qualified. If it were decades more, they might die before they were ready.

As it turned out, they agreed to host the study and, even after I left that church assignment, the group in their home continued. Truthfully, the group wound up being less of a study and more of a Jesus community. I don’t know about you, but I call that church.

When Will You Graduate?

Let me ask a question: When will you graduate from church? What I mean is, how many years of attending services and listening to sermons will it take to qualify you for ministry? Four, as it takes for many college degrees? Six? Ten? Twenty? For the twelve disciples it took three (and being filled with the Spirit). So, how many more years before you strike out with a few others and live the gospel of the kingdom?

What’s holding you back? You don’t know enough. What? Haven’t you been listening all these years? Haven’t you been filled with the Spirit? And, admit it, haven’t you wondered if there wasn’t more to the Christian life than just teaching and being taught? Haven’t you yearned for a faith that was a bit more—how can I say it—exciting, even risky? Anyway, don’t you know enough experienced Christ-followers that you can run to if you get in over your head? And, of course, you do have the Bible. There’s lots of practical advice about kingdom living in there.

Come on. It’s nearly June. Lots of graduations in the next couple of months. Kids moving on with their lives. What about you? Isn’t it time to graduate? Stop just going to church. Be the church.* You don’t need permission for that. Jesus already granted it. What you need is courage.

More to follow…

* Don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying you must leave your present fellowship. We hang out with some really cool “real churches,” in addition to the house churches. I’m just saying you may need to spend less time there. Moreover, if your present church is more interested in keeping you coming to services than releasing you to do the work of the ministry, then the leadership needs to review their job description (Ephesians 4:12). Just saying…

The Dones: Finding Each Other

This is the third in a series about the demographic called The Dones and their exploration of simple church. A version of this article appears at www.tween2worlds.us.

Having just celebrated Pentecost, the birth of the church, I’ve been thinking about the trajectory of those early believers. Those were heady days! People being swept into the kingdom; discovering a new love for each other; sharing their goods; eating, praying, and learning from house to house and in the public spaces of the temple.

Exciting stuff!

Then things got dangerous. Saul started breathing threats against the followers of this “Way.” The followers of Jesus were forced to run for their lives (Acts 8:1). The result was astonishing. Everywhere they went they started talking about the wonders they had seen in those early days in Jerusalem after Pentecost. In their enthusiasm these new believers were like dandelion seeds blowing in the wind (Acts 8:4). They may have been on the run, but their message took root wherever they landed. And so, other communities of faith sprang up all over the region; little gatherings of people eager to learn.

The Dones. “Done-delions?”

What about The Dones? Could they be like the early church scattering from Jerusalem? Maybe this apparent exodus of faithful followers from the traditional halls of the church are a new wave of the Kingdom. And why not? By all accounts these folks haven’t lost their faith, only their patience. They want their freedom. And some of them are discovering other “free-range Christians” outside the walls. They haven’t forgotten the importance of gathering with others (Hebrews 10:24-25), they are merely simplifying, meeting without the box.

I’m excited about the possibilities. I would love to hear of the adventures of The Dones. I’m hoping those of us who have been meeting simply can link arms with them. Jesus has promised to be in the midst of those who gather in His name. I think it will be better for him to be in a hundred places among ten than in one place among 1000!