Posted by: piersdy | April 22, 2013

The Jewel We Have

I was talking to someone who hadHedge gap been away from this church for some time and was making their way back. She told me that she had been attending a church that was welcoming and inclusive, but she still missed our church. I asked what is it about this church that she missed, and what she said it amounted to: brotherhood.
The other church seems to have had the usual complement of middle class people, which conjures up to me – hedges.  Hedges are to keep people out, off the lawn, out of the house, out of my hair, out of my heart. The people can be welcoming, but only so far.
If that sounds judgmental, it is only meant to be an attempt at a description of a lifestyle. You have the resources to hedge yourself and your family in against the intrusions of others – fair enough. But the downside is that others often cannot easily reach you as a person.

So what do I mean by brotherhood? That can conjure up biker gangs, foxhole comrades, and sinister Ku Klux Klan groups or terrorist cells. Well at least all those are in some way locked closely together in mutual dependence. So our use of the word includes commitment to each other. That in turn means loss of independence, and the vulnerability of being tied to others, and even, ‘worse’ still, accountable to each other. My brother has permission to walk through the hedge into my heart with his muddy feet and move the furniture; never mind leaving imprints on the lawn. That just isn’t middle class.
I reckon that brotherhood is the central jewel of our church, Jesus Fellowship aka Jesus Army. It was born (again) in the charismatic renewal of the 60’s and 70’s and became a vibrant body-life church which then discovered community, set up kingdom businesses, gained the JA identity to evangelise, set up Jesus Centres and initiated the Multiply network. And more.
So is charismatic life the key to all that? Not really – it is brotherhood (in the Spirit) that is the common denominator, and genius, or ingredient X.
Community is all about brotherhood in practise, living together instead of just inviting each other round.
Our businesses run like any other business to make profit, but we run them as brethren in brotherhood, so the atmosphere is different.
Our evangelism conveys the gospel of course, but what makes it distinctive is the brotherhood-friendship that reaches other hearts.
Jesus Centres provide services to help many people, from the homeless to mums and toddlers – just like many Christian centres; but what people appreciate the most is the brotherhood they find.
And churches, abroad and in the UK that are involved with Multiply, value brotherhood as much as anything else from us.

Brotherhood is the business. I rest my case.

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Responses

  1. You write well, Piers, and I agree with you, but the church had that quality before the emphasis on covenant commitment and I believe that that is what spoils the jewel of brotherhood ,it is hidden from view behind a gilded cage.
    The vows are what makes other churches and the world in general wary.
    Freedom is such a massive issue, especially in todays world.
    Are the bonds of love not enough?


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