What might it look like if we saw more of heaven on earth? Restoration and renewal in every home? People worshipping on every street?
The Garden is a growing Network of missional communities that have no specific building or home. They are a network of communities or houses united by five core Biblical values and six simple practices, a rhythm of daily Bible reading, Bible project YouTube clips and prayer to give everyone the opportunity to sample and live out a transformational rhythm and rule of life in Jesus Christ. Disciples that are built around the kitchen table for the off-road track, travelling light and enjoying the riches of the small.
After I took a sabbatical in 2019 to explore churches and church planting in different contexts, Anna and I were impacted by the ‘We Are Church’ community led by Francis Chan in San Francisco. His desire for unity, simplicity and lay-led deep discipleship left us with a hunger to explore this in the context and landscape of Norfolk. We began worshipping with five people in our home without any idea of how significant it might become.
Garden Church is not a ‘new model’ of church. It is simply a reconnection with the movement and mode of the church in Acts 2.42. It is a framework to provide structure and freedom to release simple church in the home and provide an accountability network and support for local mission. We work alongside and in partnership with all denominations, local churches of any tradition or flavour and we come in peace.
The missional communities help us to experience the best of big and best of small and being zero-cost they are sustainable and replicable and can work in partnership with their local church. They provide a safe and friendly environment in which to test drive the call in Ephesians 4 to develop the gifts and skills of God’s people because they are small enough to allow everyone to play. They provide an environment in which to grow and re-disciple disciples for this new era.
The Garden also enjoys the encouragement that comes from being gathered on a monthly basis, with faces from Stalham to Walberswick, a houseboat on the River Waveney to an inner-city estate in West Earlham, to an eco-centred smallholding in Loddon or new housing in Sprowston and The Upper Nar Villages.
We have much to learn from each other, young and old. Garden Church flows out of The Mitre Benefice and is in partnership with the Diocese of Norwich Church Planting and Revitalisation Programme to share resources and to encourage new plants. Let us know if you would like to know more. You can contact us through our website www.garden-church.org or email firstname.lastname@example.org
As I finish as Interim Priest in Charge at The Mitre Benefice, I’m looking forward to continuing my role as Lead Practitioner in Church Planting. I’ve also been invited to join a mission cohort studying for a Doctorate in Church planting in Post Christendom Europe (Asbury Theological Seminary in Kentucky and The Centre for Church Multiplication in London) and will enjoy supporting Rev Tom Eagles and the team at The Mitre Benefice in a non-stipendiary capacity.
Anna is co-writing a children’s book and runs a small family business from the kitchen table. Coming from a family of vicars, she loves Church in all its varying forms and is passionate about helping others engage with the Christian faith in a context where they feel comfortable.