3) JESUS GENERATION’S EXEMPLARS
After a period of tremendous church growth in three contiguous church-plants in Portsmouth UK I was seeking the Lord to know how to disciple people at a deeper level. With the members of my group-household I found answers to such questions from the Celtic Apostles, Aidan, Fursa, Columba; the first Benedictines, Francis, Clare and the first Mendicants; Wesley, Whitfield and the first Methodists; William Booth and the first Salvationists; and later the story of Francis and Edith Schaeffer became significant to us.
Jesus Generation began as a network when I invited boarders and alumni of my group houses to share my own rule of life – which embraced the heart of the promises made by Anglican clergy at ordination, and the Articles of War of the Salvation Army. This marked the start-up of JGen proper in 1997. Growth beyond the initial household came as readers of the JGen vision began petitioning me for a way they could participate in our rule of life, but living it in their local church and life-setting.
JGen Members and Associates – UK & NZ – 1997-2003
After a while I began to get the idea of what the Lord was doing with us and responded as Francis of Assisi had done in the 1200s, by allowing JGen to develop into a “third order/secular order/associate structure”. This was the first key move that caused JGen to grow.
Some snapshots of JGen Australia 2003-2009
4) JESUS GENERATION’S WIDER FAMILY
For 16 years I was blessed with an amazing mentor – the superior of an Anglican Monastic Order in the U.K. (C.S.W.G. – the Community of the Servants of the Will of God – a community rich in Benedictine and Eastern Orthodox heritage). Fr Gregory helped JGen embrace God’s call as a kind of secular order and to form a “rule of life” that rooted us in the traditions of our exemplars and forbears.
In this phase of expansion we were paralleling contemporary developments in the old monastic orders at that time. Fr Gregory helped us to find ourselves on the ecclesial map and to understand that as an intentional fellowship Jesus Generation would be a kind of community – not a kind of congregation. A number of associates now began petitioning me for a larger gathered expression – marking the beginning of JGen’s season of household-based churches for Gen Ys. With the framework loaned to us by our monastic older brothers and sisters we were ready to run!
My Friend and mentor, Father Gregory, the late superior of the Community of the Servants of the Will of God (an Anglican Community in Sussex, England, – rich in Benedictine & Eastern Orthodox heritage). Click here to learn more about Father Gregory.
“Neo-Monastic” is not a term we chose for ourselves. In the C16th “new monastic” was a term of abuse levelled at Anabaptist groups as a criticism of their intentional approach to actually obeying the Gospel teachings of Christ! In the C18th John Wesley and the first Methodists were insulted with the same term for the very same reason.
For the first decade of Jesus Generation’s life, intentional community and neo-monastic approaches were held in deep, deep suspicion by the wider church. Accordingly JGenners had to learn graciously to paint a picture for people that clearly affirmed the smorgasbord of forms in the Christian tradition, while at the same time illuminating why the strand of intentional community might need to re-emerge. I feel so proud of the conversation my JGen comrades brought to the wider church throughout that period because as pioneers of an “alternative track” we found that a very thick skin was needed!