Here in Washington, DC, the weather is telling us that fall has just about arrived. Before I break out sweaters and jeans, though, let me take a moment to share what’s been going on with me and the Friends of Jesus community in the latter half of this summer.
The last month and a half has been very full in every way: with ministry, work and family. Compared to some other summers in recent memory, my schedule for travel has been relatively tame. Nevertheless, I still managed to make some significant excursions outside the Beltway. In addition to a midsummer visit to Philadelphia to encourage the Friends of Jesus community there, I was able to participate in the Northeast Christ-Centered Friends Gathering at Powell House, a Quaker center in upstate New York. The gathering was truly blessed, and I was humbled to be among so many women and men who are working to share the good news of Jesus among Liberal Quakers in the Northeast United States.
I was also able to make a trip out to Wichita, Kansas, to visit family and friends there. It was a fairly brief visit, but I was glad to be able to connect with a few folks from Great Plains Yearly Meeting, as well as with Jerry Truex, a dear friend who serves as pastor of Mennonite Church of the Servant. I am so impressed with the vital ministry being sustained by my friends in Wichita, and my heart aches to be among them, even as I know that God has called me to settle in the Washington, DC region for the foreseeable future.
This summer has been very typical in some ways, yet in other ways it has been quite strange. I’m used to all my spring routines breaking down each summer, only to be replaced by new patterns in the fall. The difference this time, though, is that I didn’t have to leave home to make it happen. This deconstruction of my ordinary routines has taken place here in situ, amidst the familiar surroundings of home.
To give just one example, my life was delightfully disrupted by a visit by Tyler Heston and Hye Sung Gehring. Tyler and Hye Sung spent six weeks this summer serving as interns with the Friends of Jesus community in Detroit, and by all accounts had a blast. I am so grateful that they are part of the Friends of Jesus Fellowship, and it was great to spend almost a week with them as they swung out to the East Coast. Tyler will be spending the next year finishing up his undergraduate degree in Memphis, while Hye Sung will be out in Portland spending a year with Quaker Voluntary Service. I’m really excited about the friendship and collaboration in ministry that we are developing with these two very talented and big-hearted young men.
OK, now that I’ve filled you in on summer, I’m ready to put on my hoodie and tell you about what’s on deck for this fall. As the air starts to change, so does our program. The summer was extremely informal for our community here in DC, and we gathered in many different ways – whether grabbing tacos on H Street, cleaning up Shepherd Parkway in Southeast, or gathering for a low-key Bible study. As we move into fall, our plan is a bit less free-form and slightly more methodical, but we hope to maintain a posture of experimentation and freedom in the Spirit of Christ.
We’ve got several ways we’re looking to engage in the coming months. Let’s go from smallest to largest:
On the small end, we’re launching several Life Transformation Groups (LTGs). These are groups of 2-3 people who gather each week to confess sin to each other and practice intercessory prayer for a few people that members of the group would like to see come to faith in Jesus. During the week, members of the group read a large amount of Scripture, allowing the biblical witness to speak into their lives. We hope that our LTGs will be a practical support for members of our community who want to go deeper in exploring what it means to be disciples of Jesus in the most practical sense, allowing relationships of accountability – to Christ and to one another – to transform our lives.
A slightly larger expression of our community this fall comes in our small groups. Here in DC, we’re expecting a group of roughly half a dozen folks to participate in an 8-week small group experience based on The Tangible Kingdom, a resource produced to help friends come together and discover what it might be like to live as a missional community. Our hope is that this experience might foster a deeper level of commitment and intimacy, together as friends and followers of Jesus. For more information about The Tangible Kingdom, check out the original book, and the TK Primer, which is the resource we’ll be using in our small group (a free sample of the Primer can be downloaded here).
In Maryland, we have a small group that has already begun gathering in Rockville, in the chapel of a retirement community where one of our members lives. By all accounts, it sounds like things are going very well so far. The format of the group is one of interactive Bible exploration, and our Maryland organizers hope that the small group will be a safe, supportive environment for both established Christians as well as those who are just curious about what the Bible has to say and how it might apply to their lives.
In addition to our LTGs and small groups, we are also planning to have a monthly worship gathering that will welcome folks from across the entire DC metro area. For those who are not familiar with our region, travel can be extremely draining and time-consuming, so once-monthly gatherings for the whole metro area seems like the most we can sustain right now as we seek to grow communities in more particular geographical locations. We look forward to these times of corporate worship as opportunities to receive spiritual nourishment from Jesus, and in that communion to connect more deeply with one another as brothers and sisters in him.
Please take a moment right now to pray for us in the following ways:
- That our LTGs would cohere and become micro-communities where the Holy Spirit can truly do transforming work on each member of our community. That God give us new life and power to change as we become more fully disciples of the Lord Jesus.
- For the presence of Christ to be felt in our small groups. That he would use each of our small groups to build up core communities in our two present geographical locations, giving us courage and boldness to become fishers of people.
- That the power of God truly be felt among us in our monthly gatherings for worship, and that geography not hold us back from coming together as one church in the name of Jesus.
- Finally, please pray that God will bless the Friends of Jesus Fellowship Fall Gathering. Pray for large attendance, powerful teaching, and a palpable awareness of the sweet Spirit who calls us to pick up the cross and become disciples of Jesus.
Thank you for your support – through your prayers, financial giving, and all the ways that you have been instruments of God’s care for this ministry. Grace and peace to you from God our Father, and the Lord Jesus Christ.
PS: If you haven’t registered yet for the Friends of Jesus Fellowship Fall Gathering, it’s not too late! Check out our promotional flier, register, and leave a comment on our Facebook page if you have any questions!