So how does it work for us? With no formal services, no leadership how do we survive and even thrive as Christians? Good questions, and ones that we've asked ourselves.

Firstly each person takes responsibility for their own relationship with God. It can be easy to get to rely on someone 'up front', but we have found that once that is gone your personal relationship with Jesus is shown for what it is. And if you care about that you will attend to it yourself.

Relational connection

We have always put the highest value on relationship and we quickly found that without a weekly service we would need to make time for the people we cared about. So there has been a greater emphasis on making space and time to spend with others, and as a result, more meaningful relationships and conversations and less nodding at people you don't really know. This happens by way of natural friendships. Additionally, people might group together for a specific purpose, for study or discussion of a particular subject, or to pray or seek God about some concern. This will usually happen by one person taking the initiative and inviting others. There are occasional gatherings organised on a scale that means they are open to all. We might sing and share our experiences and thoughts together but there is little formality and no presentational teaching. We will often share bread and wine together.

Something that has helped us stay connected with those outside our closest circle of friends has been the Gracebook internet forum that we created for the purpose.

The Body of Christ

Because Jesus described his followers as being like his own body on earth then we believe that he will give his body shape in a given community of believers. This will happen even without framing it within a man-made structure or organisation. Members use their gifting and talents for the benefit of others and the body takes shape organically. People with shared passions are drawn together and take initiatives themselves as God prompts them. (An example of this is the five friends who run a youth club together.) And because of this none of us can lay claim to what others are working on. There is no measuring or quantifying of the combined activity, and impact, of our community and much of this is hidden within the life and work of each individual.

There are no rules or restrictions in all this. Some of the people who are part of this community go to a local church, many do not. But there is no need to 'leave' our community if you 'go to' another church or indeed for you to leave a local church to join with us.

Looking for what the Father is doing

It's worth making the point that what we have is not another way of 'doing' church, nor is it anything we would encourage others to 'do'. This is something that believe God has led us into, which is the reason why we have embraced this way of life. We would encourage others to always seek what God is leading them into too. As Jesus said 'The Son does only what he sees the Father doing' (John 5:19). Each of us can do likewise.

The Picture Above:

Kerry Southey said that we would be like a "Joel Army" without a human leader where everyone would know their position and role without being told. The army that the prophet Joel spoke of was a destroying army of locusts. We felt that God's imagery to us was not about destruction but about the way we would be organised, as insects can move as one without a leader. In 2007 our pastor stepped down to continue as a regular member with the church and we then employed a couple from within the church simply to coordinate and facilitate the church to be the church. Now, of course, there is no leadership hierarchy or paid staff at all.
 

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