The Emergence of New Spiritual Communities in East Midlands, UK

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Recently friends and co-workers from across the East Midlands met to share food and report back on joys and challenges involved in launching and developing simple missional communities at a Newforms Regional Network Gathering…
(similar Newforms Regional Gatherings are emerging across Britain)

Here are some of the simple stories gathered from that session…

A town in Derbyshire
One community started 6 months ago in the Ilkeston area. It began as a husband and wife pioneer team actively searched for a local Person of Peace on a nearby estate for over 2 years. They constantly drew blanks, not able to find anyone, and were beginning to feel slightly discouraged, but persevered, until, at last, in summer 2012, they met a lady who was interested in finding out more about Jesus and willing to open her home. The pioneer team of 2 now meet in the home of the person of peace and a small group of local people to share food and share the Bible (beginning with the 7 Signs of John). The members of the group consist of one person who already believes in Jesus, although the majority of the group have little or no belief or church background. One lady was a confessed atheist when she joined the group. It’s early days, but the group continues to meet at least weekly and is on a journey of discovering who Jesus is and what he instructed his disciples to do…

Bulwell
Even more recently, in a strong working class area, another new community started in the Bulwell area in the past few weeks. A local Pioneer Worker began building relationships with parents from local families involved in the nearby school. Last year the Pioneer Worker invited some of these contacts to a Pancake Party at her home, and a couple of families showed up. More recently the Pioneer Worker invited mums from the local school to a Bring+Share lunch. These lunches now occur on a weekly basis.

West Bridgford
In a more middle class area, another pioneering husband and wife team have been working with young people in the area for the past 10 years. They’ve been involved in local youth centres and schools. Out of this work they formed a group of young people that meet in their home and are growing as disciples. More recently, they’ve been looking to connect better with the parents of the teenagers they’ve worked with, so 2 months ago, started to meet with a few Dads in a local pub to read Bible together.

St. Ann’s
In the inner-city area of St. Ann’s a group started recently that has begun to grow…a Pioneer Worker moved into the area and had 3 young women, not from a christian background, move into the same house. They began meeting for a Bring+Share meal on a Thursday evening. Some of these women started to invite their friends from other areas and they began reading the 7 Signs of John together. Some weeks, many people show up to the community meal, some weeks, everyone seems to disappear. Then in Jan 2013, it was the Pioneer Workers birthday, so she threw a big house party, invited a DJ, which resulted in over 40 people filling the house that evening! During the evening there was lots of food, drink, music, and conversations about Jesus. Many of the people at this party were then invited to the regular community bring+share hosted at the home each week…many of the people who show up are now getting involved in an initiative called ‘DREAM‘ that helps young people and communities fulfil their potential

Joy’s and Challenges
Most of the above communities have started in the last 6 months…and though, many of these stories are very exciting, they are not without significant challenges. Sometimes, these pioneering teams inform me, nobody shows up to the groups, some of the people who do come have serious life issues. Also, there always seems to be a lack of mature workers getting involved in the launching and developing of these emerging simple organic missional communities so teams often feel overstretched as the ‘harvest is great but the workers are few’

However, the joy of seeing new people engaging in conversations about the teaching of Jesus and what can be done about what he said, in non-religious settings, eating together and sharing life, far outweigh the difficulties in my opinion

That’s why for more than a decade now, we’ve continued to pioneer newforms of Jesus-centred spiritual communities first locally, then regionally, then training and equipping nationally and why we are now excited about meeting many others who are pioneering these new forms across the continent of Europe

If you are interested in starting or developing new forms of Jesus-centred spiritual communities or already involved, then please get in touch!

It would be really great to hear some of your stories too!

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