The Start of A New ‘Joondalup Thing’

Well, last Friday night was the end of something and the start of something.
We finished our experimental small group that began at the begining of this year. For all intense and purposes, it failed…in my mind. Oh we had a great time, we made new friends, we did some great things together. But for me what I thought it might achieve it did not. So rather than backing off from this idea of a more intentional community we are going further down the rabbit hole! We are taking the red pill!
Yes we are moving into this intentional community stuff deeper still. Not all the way next year, in fact it could be seen as a kind of stage 2 of 3…or 4 or 5 or 6…hmmm!!
But the night was mixed with eating and drinking and then sharing of what it all might look like. I read out the email I had sent everyone (I think I will post it here) and asked for questions.
Some came with matter of fact precision of premeditated and thought out questions, others just came straight from the heart with much emotion. Some questions related to our relational standing at Whitford Church, other questions related to our relational standing with each other if some choose not to join us (ie – can we still be friends?). There was some tension and emotion in the meeting, which I always struggle with but acknowledge it was good.

Any way, here is my email I sent out to about 30 people who were on our email list for the group for this year. It was the last email I will be sending to that group as a whole. Some have already indicated they are out and some have said they are in, still others are kinda in and kinda out…an issue I am not sure what to do with other than just trust God knows what he is doing…as I am not all sure I am!

The Email –

Hi folks, I sent some of this email out to someone enquiring as to what we are doing next year for group. It was felt that this would be a good anchor point for discussion this Friday night.
I have even included ‘prompt questions’ for you!
Please have a read, print it out, write some of your own questions/thoughts/ideas down and bring it along Friday night.

We moved to Joondalup a year and 1/2 ago to be closer to the school our kids are in. This concept of moving closer to something got me thinking about issues of proximity and community. We began connecting to our neighbours at a good level soon after moving in, but was being challenged by a close friend (Matt) who is on a similar journey with his family, about intentional Christian community (wider than just the nuclear family community). I read some stuff, internet mainly but some books too. To cut a long story short, we started a ‘small group’ through our church but treated it differently, quite like a small community group, some of us existed in relationship outside the ‘meetings’ to a greater extent than I had ever done in a normal small group. This has been a Whitford church small group and we have been challenged a bit about the ‘oddness’ of our group by people.

We are wrapping this group up on the 18th Nov and sharing our vision for next years group on that night.
The suggested plan for the new group is that we will meet not as a Whitford life group but rather an different kind of group, meeting in Joondalup and celebrating the various dates on the traditional church calendar (Advent, Pentecost, Passover, Lent and so on.) On the weekends we meet, we will make that our church, no Whitford attendance. People who will come to this may initially come from all over the place(geographically speaking!)…BUT, the emphasis is that we will be forming an intentional missional community with a heart for mission in Joondalup, with our homes in Joondalup.
This has the tick from leadership at Whitford, all emails to our group are cc’d to our Senior Pastor. The Churches of Christ in WA are also informed of this suggestion.

After a year of this, one idea we have is to move to a far more localised group. We may draw the line and say we have a team of ‘missionaries’ that meet every (whatever day) for prayer, discipleship, communion whatever, we are committed to a mission of transformation (transforming ourselves, eachother, and our community with a Kingdom mindset), we will ask people that if they desire to commit to this mission then they will need to move into what we may call a ‘pedestrian community’, about a 40 minute walk from a given central point.
There are a few families and couples who worship Jesus living close by already who may or may not choose to join us, still others are buying (just this week!) in, and others looking to rent.

We are struggling with lots of issues, we don’t know what we are doing really, but we have talked too much and not acted enough, so we are now moving out of comfort zones and doing something…not too sure what though!

We struggle with being middle class, well maybe we don’t struggle enough with this and that causes good discussion.
We struggle with issues of consumerism, environment, lifestyle sustainability and all that means, we struggle with the sermon on the mount and most of the other teachings of Christ and how that looks in our lives on a day to day basis, we struggle with ‘busy’ and being at home, more present with our own families, our brothers and sisters in Christ in our community and our neighbours.
We (I, Scott) struggle with how this looks to our church and where we stand with them, to this point there has been no response to emails I have sent, yet face to face I have been given the okay to move ahead with this discussion, I have been given Marks word that if he has any problems with this he will speak openly to my face as is his practice, he has not done so, and I believe that he has no major concerns. Christine and I are in great relationship with Graeme and Michelle McLean, Graeme is chairman of elders. We meet weekly for a meal, talk openly about all this, we value these relationships and they will continue regardless of our future direction.

We are challenged by the following;
2 Corinthians 8:24Therefore show these men the proof of your love and the reason for our pride in you.
Ephesians 1:15[ Thanksgiving and Prayer ] For this reason, ever since I heard about your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love for all the saints,
Colossians 1:4because we have heard of your faith in Christ Jesus and of the love you have for all the saints—
Philemon 1:5because I hear about your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love for all the saints.1 Peter 1:22Now that you have purified yourselves by obeying the truth so that you have sincere love for your brothers, love one another deeply, from the heart.

With my primary text being
John 13:34-35 (New International Version)
34″A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. 35 By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”

This is not to deny that we should love our unsaved neighbour, our enemy and so on…
Luke 6:32” If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners love those who love them.

But it is clear from scripture like the descriptions of the early church in Acts that there was a high visability of love in the lives of those in the family of believers.

Upon meditating on some of these verses these questions came forward for me;

1) What was it about the ‘Love’ that is described in scripture, that made “all men know that you are my disciples”? What was it? Was it their sharing their openness? Their meal times? What made the impact?
and
2) When and where did they see this? How was it seen? Was it in the church? In their homes? If so, what was the frequency of the unsaved peoples interaction with the believers to have such an impact that they would also want to become disciples? Just what kind of ‘church services’ did they ever run??!!! Obviously I think it was not in a service or even a bible study that the unbelivers witnessed the love between believers, it was in intersecting with the community of believers.

We love the adventure of it all, we are happy living in the tension and struggle and long to see what God has in store for us in the future.

Some Questions I and others have asked along the way, you may wish to add your own for Friday night’s discussion –
Is this a Church?
Is it part of Churches of Christ?
Does it have a name?
Does it have a strategic plan?
Is this what all Christians should do, are you making some kind of statement?
Are you sick and tired of ‘big church’ or even your home church at Whitford?
Is the plan to ‘take over’ Joondalup with houses full of Christian families, every house in every street ‘Christianised’? Is that not a bit seperatist?
Is this a bit ‘cultish’?
Are their other models you are looking at? Who? What? Where?
Will you sing? Pray? Preach?
What about giving?
What about kids and one day – teens?
It seems that a few of whitford ex pastors are involved in this, is this intentional? Should we read anything into this?
Who exactly is the ‘we’ refered to all the time?
Is this like a commune? Are you forming a nudist colony?
Will you get into ‘hippy stuff’ like growing organic veggies and becoming vegetarian?
What is an order? I have heard this term thrown around a bit. Isn’t that a monestary?

Sound like fun?

Can’t wait to see you all Friday night.

With love
Scott and Christine.

[a special note – Mark emailed me just before group Friday night with a great email of blessing for us to ‘go for it’. I spoke with him face to face Saturday morning, and Karen Saturday night. All good in that department – I feel if relationship can remain open and honest then things will be less bumpy!]

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13 thoughts on “The Start of A New ‘Joondalup Thing’

  1. having been a part of the gathering with you since its inception i’m not sure i’d agree with you when you say “it failed”.

    i entered the start of the year being sure i needed to slow down, to stop running so fast and to try and find a more sustainable pace for our lives as an individual and as a family.

    the people in the group were great – nice people to have in your home every fortnight. and sharing a meal together was excellent too. the intermittent conversations were at times meaty, and other times – just surfacey.

    admitedly, there was rarely much depth as a whole, and probably very little engagement between people amidst the chaos of 15-20 kids running around past their bed time.

    all in all, i’m glad we did this past year. and i think, with the amount of non-plans and non-goals we “set in place” – i think it was a good year.

    but having said that – i think a move towards more intentional community is the next step for some of us from this group. and so we will continue the journey.

  2. Well, I guess that’s all to do with expectations and outcomes. For me it did not ‘do’ what I thought it would. I’m ok with that I just thought it may have done more of what you refere to as ‘depth’ and ‘engagement’. But I agree that if the group had not happened we would not have learnt so much and grown to the point of where we are and what we are doing, so in many respects I guess it was ahuge success too!

  3. yeah, it’s funny – i deleted a sentence at the start of my first comment which said “it all has to do with our expectations”. i guess that was what i was getting at – that for the “group” to have “failed” it would mean that the group had a set of agreed upon objectives which they did not meet.

    but i don’t think we ever had a set of “group” goals – i think we all had our own ideas which were either met or not.

    for me, it was a necessary journey in such a group, so i could be sure i was looking for something more.

    for others, i know the experience of a fortnightly meal and family fortnight has been the motivation they needed to start somethign similar in their other life groups – and they love it.

    for others again, it was a necessary gathering to show them that where some of us are heading, is not where they are heading – and that is good too.

    all in all, i think the group this year was excellent – a necessary part of the ongoing journey from a whole heap of different angles.

    it’s been fun – and – i look forward to what is ahead.

  4. I’m excited to read about the continual development of what you guys are up to and what you are thinking about it all. We are exploring our own parallel journey and I am encouraged at the prospect of being able to continue to share our stories and experiences. It’s great to be fleshing out the blog conversations, ideas, dreams etc. as we explore the possibilities of “intentional missional community”.

  5. The Peace Tree Community in Lockridge are so encouraged by what God’s Spirit is stirring amoungst you guys. So very encouraged! If the can help you guys ‘fan the flame’ please let us know. You are in our prayers, and we are so encouraged by other communities praying with their lives “your Kingdom come”. What a great journey you are all on.

  6. I really enjoyed being part of the group this year and was disappointed at not being able to attend last week. The discussions, and thought processes that I have had through the year have really galvanised my decisions and played a big part in group decisions that I have made. I would never have thought of this year as a failure. You only have to touch one to change many……

  7. Like the star fish!!
    OK OK – I repent for ever having used the word ‘failure’!!
    I should restate it this way…
    I feel the group did some wonderful things and I loved being a part of it. Although, there were times I felt it missed the original ‘mark’ I had set in my mind to achieve, I know it achieved many other great things I never thought it could…
    Good?

  8. Hey guys
    Good news.
    Just a note to say that we don’t have to be so “down” on strategic planning. At it’s core, it’s a spiritual discipline that helps a person or organisation focus on what’s important to them. The very fact that you’ve got some scriptures that help focus you say that you have actually done some strategic planning – and these scriptures and the ideas behind them are your focus.

    Don’t jettison the idea of planning, just adapt the concept to make it work for you and your setting.

    Seems like you have a strategic plan, it’s just that a number of the areas could be articulated with words such as “explore” or “try out.” It’s still a strategic plan, just a bit more open ended than some. My guess is that as time goes on you’ll get passionate about certain things becuase GOd is speaking to you about them – and these will form your future strategic plans.

    grist for the mill
    All power to you (well, all power to HIm, and may he share some with you)

  9. Funny you say this, (not sure who you are) I was kinda thinking this very thing this afternoon. It is strategic planning isn’t it, just not so structured or what ever, just planning and dreaming with a different face.
    Thanks for your thoughts.

  10. Apologies annonymous, Strategic Planning is actually something I do for a living. It was more a cheap stab at Vawz (a good friend)and his new order (another stab). I also believe that what they are doing is very strategic and sounds like a lot of planning has gone into it, I just think that they are planning strategically without the heavy structure that usually follows and hope the very best for them. Big kisses.

  11. the nature of planning is shifting signficantly.

    as one who loves a plan i am coming to realise how much i can actually plan for and how much room i need to leave for adjustments, the spirit etc.

    it is a different imagination of strategic planning than we have used for so many years and acknowledges that fluidity and adaptability are not neccesarily bad things in a world that is also changing so rapidly

  12. yes – we can be strategic and open to the spirit at the same time. Looking through Jesus’ life and Paul’s life, there are definite strategies – revealed by the father, and plans to get certain things achieved – ie. announce the kingdom, make some disciples, teach the people, die for the world, rise again etc. these are all parts of Jesus’ strategic plan. But it’s a plan focused on discerning the Father’s will rather than creating an independent reality centred on us.

    Paul has a definite plan in going to major cities, connecting with Jews first, starting christian communities etc. etc. Very strategic, very planned. But very flexible and open to the Spirit saying No, or redirecting him.

    Yet, at other times, say after jesus goes back to heaven, the plan is “wait for something to happen.”

    That’s probably the hard bit about strategic planning with God – sometimes he sticks things like that in there – and it’s damn hard to wait!

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