Thanks to Haydn for sharing his story. We’d love to hear yours too!
1. What are you doing?
Our history: In January 2013 three families gathered on a back verandah over a meal and wine and took time to encourage one another and share our faith/church experience. It was obvious we all desired an authentic Christian experience without the intense scheduling of traditional churches in the area. Since that inaugural gathering, the ‘Assembly of Grapes’ (tongue in cheek AOG) was birthed.
We discovered many ‘homeless spiritual refugees’ disenfranchised with traditional church and burnout from years of tireless service to church program’s. Thus, invited the hurt, disenfranchised and lonely to join us, engaging in faith conversation centred around a meal.
Presently, we hold a Grapes gathering every fortnight sharing the venue around among the group. One of our gathering shares a pre-prepared reflection. Often these conversations centre on the Ignatian practice of Lectio Divina (sacred reading of scripture & listening).
We support a local Community Chaplain & food bank in the area through volunteering & providing food hampers to those in need.
2. How did you end up here?
Most of our Grapes community have had significant church ministry heritage and have unfortunately burned out or become tired of ‘keeping the church machine running.’ We asked ourselves ‘is that all church is or can we explore an alternative non-threatening approach?’ Some of our crew read and resonated with the heart of author/Anglican priest Dave Tomlinsons book ‘How to be a bad Christian and a better human being’. Throughout 2013-14 we met monthly in local parks for bbqs; drum circles; pizza nights; in people’s houses and even several gatherings in local Taverns engaging faith convocation over a relaxed meal setting. Facebook is key as a notice board and communication tool. Presently we express our faith through serving each other (helping build a chook shed; cooking meals; gardening etc) and our community through ‘the Hand in Hand community project’ (food pantry volunteering) in Kallangur.
3. What is one thing you’d like to share with other leaders?
Four words: ” be where people are”.
Church in the local Pub or BBQ in someones backyard has provided a safe-hospitality approach that has seen people access the Kingdom of God. A local New Age crew joined us one Sunday afternoon for a BBQ. They rocked up with food and an esky full of Rum & Coke! We shared a Lectio Divina and conversation / reflection afterwards. Out of this our crew were invited to hold a bible study on Johns Gospel as well as weekly drum circle in their Crystal shop! Like all of us they’re on a journey where Jesus is respectfully spoken about … God without the Guff (thanks Mr Tomlinson).