After a few years exploring Anabaptist ideas and practices, Steve Jones is to be licensed as a …
treading lightly :: trying new ideas :: living simply :: giving away gifts and power :: sharing meals, pints and coffees :: learning cool stuff :: making and connecting friends :: being thankful and telling stories..
Pastor? – to some the word ‘pastor’ reeks of hierarchy and patriarchy – I guess if there was a better word I’d use it (spiritual companion? spiritual friend?). So to me, if I call myself a pastor, it means ‘time for people and friendships’; a ‘focus on caring’; helping people on their spiritual journey; praying with people; having some insight and wisdom to share at the right time and in the right way; maybe helping people at special moments like birth, baptism, marriage and funerals and also mentoring those folks who want to be mentored. Because I want to be a better ‘pastor’, I’ve connected with the Anabaptist Mennonites who are helping me develop and to whom I am ‘editable’ – they are exploring licensing me as a ‘pastor’ – tbc (when you’re a wandering, pioneering, relational, entrepreneurial, creative dreamer type-person, its even more important to be accountable especially in areas of ‘money, sex and power’).
Wandering? – not just nurturing a single faith community or church but helping out wherever I find myself; being open to those serendipitous moments and seeking to help people start their own spiritual communities and families, wherever they hang out. Enjoying travel (preferably in carbon-free ways); making new friends and meeting new ideas, wherever they are. But because the ‘dark-side’ of wander-lust is rootlessness and not being known, I am also helping develop an Anabaptist / Mennonite Community in Exeter, a place where I can belong and be known – characterised by welcome, simplicity, food, learning, prayer, conversation and activism.
If you’d like to support our work across the SW, you can donate securely here – many thanks
reconciliation and peace-building – at the activist heart of the Jesus message is reconciliation – reconciliation with the planet we abuse, the people and cultures we distance and the God who welcomes.
new friends and old – Friendship and connection is everything. Spending time with people, whether that’s the homeless on the streets of my home city or the brightest CEO of a leading tech company.
movements – Developing participatory people movements is THE best way to bring the transformations we all desire. How do we function as movement leaders – developing people, communities and ideas away from the stagnation of institution and hierarchy?
re-imagining the jesus-faith away from the oppressive, misogynistic and patriarchal overtones of much traditional theology; celebrating a re-imagined Jesus-spirituality that is seeking to celebrate the female side of God as much as male. As a non-violent and fully-inclusive movement I’m looking to nurture what Martin Luther-King called ‘the beloved community’, where all tribes, tongues, creeds, colours, genders and sexualities can truly be moving and flowing together. What could be called a ‘Christo-anarchic’ leader-full movement where all are valued and where power is ad-hoc, given away and distributed.
gifts & generosity – Helping folks with their dreams and spreading lots of hope. Some call this empowering people with new tools, new technologies, new friends and connections, new skills, new habits, new mindset, new finance and new ideas.
story-telling – Like those ancient Celtic Monks, wandering around the countryside collecting stories and telling stories – spreading hope, praying for people, training pioneers and facilitating gatherings.
everything is important, everything is spiritual – a brick-layer is as sacred as a priest, a Monday as special as a Sunday, my local pub as holy as the grandest cathedral, my mumbling doubts and ramblings prayers as heavenly as the most theologised pre-scripted intercession.
I am the product of my habits – helpful habits and not-so-helpful habits – I’m looking to take full responsibility for my own transformation, my own joy, my own attitudes, my own unforgiveness, my own inner life, responding to my own history, my own addictions and struggles and my own physical fitness. A re-imagined spirituality must inspire people to develop life-affirming and nourishing spiritual habits – maybe including prayer, meditation, fasting, learning, solitude and silence. Some have called this a ‘new monasticism’ where the habits are the roots above which a healthy life and spirituality grows and produces shoots and fruits!
working with the Organisational and the Organic, the Institution and the Movement, the Old and New – both are needed for true transformation. I’m hanging out with several churches and faith communities including South Street Baptist – Exeter, Sidwell St Methodist – Exeter, ParkLife – Heavitree, CCC – Exeter, Brampford Speke Baptist and Exeter Life – some traditional, some contemporary and some a gathering of ‘spiritual friends’ in a local pub.
I’m also connecting around SWUK and UK with networks like Mennonites/Anabaptist Network, Pioneer Connexion, 24-7 Prayer, Urban Expression/Crucible Course, Anvil Trust / Peace Meals, Methodist Pioneer Pathways, Baptist Pioneers and anybody else that’ll have me…
I’m finding myself part of the unfolding ancient story of a deeply ‘south west UK spirituality’ – a region historically characterised by its earthy, wild primal faith; its ‘rebellious and playful’ questioning of the status quo; its historical global connectivity and influence; it’s Celtic respect for nature and the ongoing rhythms and seasons of creation and its nurturing of lives fully lived where creativity, friendship and food are valued and celebrated (oh and beaches, camping, surfing, festivals, cider and ale too;)
It also seems lots of faith communities are re-imagining themselves as…