It’s about 8 years since Molong and I began our conversation about organic ways of being church. After several years of serving in congregational settings, Molong struck out to make a living through building small businesses and bringing young people into those businesses who were being discipled through a web of friendships. It is a fruitful web of friends that has grown into a wider web of family. Gospelling, Baptising, Discipling and sharing life all happen in as organic a way as I have yet seen.
We caught up this morning and he shared this window onto his activities:
MOLONG: Our ways of gathering always just look like a big family – or like any healthy one. The gifts that we have, generosity, helps, mercy, administration etc, are all incorporated in our everyday life – as we live daily from house to house. Two things that anyone will notice here – i) You’ll see no “religious” activity ii) You’ll just see us living our faith.
PAUL: I know in the past you have led program-based, congregation-shaped churches as a pastor. How does teaching and discipleship work in the more organic model you’re working with now?
MOLONG: With regard to teaching; I have seen a kind of teaching that separates and systematizes all types of teachings – creating patterns of ‘discipleship classes’ – that unless you finish them, you are not ‘discipled.’ That way Jesus gets downgraded into a program.
Instead, we decided to treat each other as members of our own family (extending our family through making disciples). And because we make disciples through our friends, relationship is in place already. Spontaneous meetings or meet-ups happen already and naturally among friends. We use that as our basis of meeting, not creating a new schedule of meetings for the purpose of spirituality. Of course change the ‘topics’ of our ‘discussions’ and gear them toward our faith.
Another Baptism in Molong’s wider spiritual family
PAUL: Molong, I love how you have broken out of a meetings-based paradigm.
MOLONG: Of course there are many expressions of meetings. Some friends live far from each other. So what does that look like? For us the key is do a lot of meeting up, without thinking in terms of a schedule. You know families don’t do “meetings” but they meet a lot, don’t they!
So questions about spiritual growth become normal – family questions first – because we are a family-based church, not a church-based family.
We know the names of our children and spouses – where people are, what they do etc. We may not know our birthdays and middle names but surely we know each other.
Along the way we share testimonies of our lives, but we don’t call it ‘testimony’ or name it that way or mention that word at all, never. We just share it normally. For instance:
One says, “I had a dream last night of a twister that caught the whole house and transferred to an other place.”
Then someone else exclaims, “Alright, that’s it! We are going to move house next door to you. That’s just what we have been thinking and praying and asking God if that’s His will for us to live next door to you.”
Or, “I’ve visited a widow today and saw her having a hard time cleaning her house. Oh, I just jumped in and mopped her floor.”
It is not, “Good evening everyone (grumpy smile). Today I visited a widow and helped clean her house and mop her floor. Praise the Lord, I give back all the glory to him. Amen.” And everyone claps their hands.
That’s ‘testimony’ the religious way!!
Then we have gatherings like a very, very, very close family because they are living next door to each other. That way we easily function in our giftings and one-anothering.
A Bible Study Group scheduled at 7 in the evening is nonsense to our people because they can just talk and discuss what they have been learning and reading in the morning coffee under the tree.
PAUL: Molong that sounds awesome. The difference and the great challenge we struggle with in this part of the world is the busy-ness of Australians. Often we don’t live close to our spiritual family. We don’t work close to one another either. So if we want to meet up with our spiritual family – or anyone really – we generally have to schedule it. The spontaneity you enjoy isn’t there for us. Then on top of that, financial and time pressures on working people in Australia often force us into being too busy for our own families – let alone building up a wider spiritual family. I know I need to model the slower, local life far better than I do – and teach it better for us to find the time and energy for connecting. Everything is built on that time and energy to connect
MOLONG: Nobody is too busy for connection in this set up because families do the busy things together – read together, coffee together, carpentry together, clean up together, go to the market together, cook together, taxi-ride children together etc….
And along the way we talk about people, and things, and Bible and God, sexuality, and marriage, and war and peace and hate and love.
PAUL: Molong, what do you say is the secret to this closer degree of family and intimacy. How has your spiritual family achieved it?
MOLONG: The people who decided to be like this are all deniers of themselves. That’s why they say things like: “I want to love you and care for you so to make that easier for me I will move house next door to you.”
“I have a TV that I could sell to help you in your need, because you are more important than my TV.”
Our people have changed their priorities.
There’s transparency with each other. If anyone takes advantage he’ll be rebuked. We don’t live as ‘commune’ but share our lives from house to house. All take care of their own families and needs, but all are willing to give up themselves for the sake of the other. Not communism, but commonism!
Your things and money are yours, and mine is mine. We own what we own. But we are just so willing to give it up if you and I need to help each other. We do this because we love one another. And this creates security among us. Our insurance system is found in this way of life. We are hundreds of fathers, mothers, brothers and sisters!!
I have to write a lot because it’s just hard to explain it in religious terminology for you!