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ship/ w o l l Fe esus J e h ot tion t y c u d rm tro An in n Jesus a er mod

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Church ALIVE

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Church Alive The moder n Jesus army (often known simply as the Jesus Army) is the “street name” of the Jesus Fellowship Church, a UK-based evangelical and charismatic Christian Church. The Jesus Army aims to be a contemporary expression of the historic Christian faith. It is orthodox, believing in the Bible and upholding the historic Christian creeds. The Jesus Army is linked with other churches in the UK and overseas through the Multiply Christian Network and is a member of the je s je us je su s je sus su s

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Evangelical Alliance UK. Details of the church are listed in the UK Christian Handbook and the English Church Census. The Jesus Army has grown over the last 40 years from less than 100 to about 2,500 members. Around twenty-five per cent of the Jesus Army live as a residential Christian community, the New Creation Christian Community. The Jesus Army has a youthful feel and, in comparison with many more traditional churches, has a large proportion of members in their teens, twenties and thirties. It emphasises the Holy Spirit’s life and power and “spiritual gifts” such as healing and speaking in tongues.

Jesus Army action The Jesus Army is a familiar sight on the streets of the UK where their brightly coloured minibuses, coaches and jackets give them a high profile. Central to the Jesus Army’s mission is the desire to spread the Christian gospel. It uses many different ways of doing this from talking to family and friends about faith in Jesus, to evangelism on the streets. The Jesus Army also has several Jesus Army double-decker display coaches and a giant 1,500seater marquee which are used for outreach. The church also holds many public events both in the marquee and other venues across the UK. In addition, Jesus Centres (see below) are places in which a wide variety of activities take place, many of which are connected with outreach and evangelism. The Jesus Army respects people of all faiths and none. Whilst


The Jesus Army is particularly known for its work with those in need, including homeless people, those involved in drug or alcohol abuse, and prisoners and ex-prisoners. In connection with this social outreach work, the church has founded a charity (Jesus Army Charitable Trust) and opened Jesus Centres. These “places where the love of Jesus is expressed daily in worship and help for every type of person” are currently in three locations (Northampton, Coventry, and Central London) with vision to start others in other cities. The homeless and disadvantaged find a particular welcome at Jesus Centres. They offer a hand of friendship and a listening ear

Coventry Jesus Centre

Northampton Jesus Centre

Organisation and structure Jesus Army groups are to be found in many towns and cities in the UK. Yet the Jesus Army sees itself as one church with one vision and way of doing things right across the country. The way this works in practice is that there are different “building blocks” which make up church life.

London Jesus Centre

“Church households” are the basic units of the Jesus Army. This is a group of between ten and thirty Jesus Army members. l

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Jesus Centres

as well as function as a gateway to other services and agencies in the locality. Jesus Centres are also places where the local Jesus Fellowship Church meets and worships, with a daily programme of church and social events at the Centres. The buildings also contain several other meeting rooms, which are available for use by other groups.

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it is keen to share the Christian gospel, it does not want to force that message on anyone and upholds people’s right to follow (or not follow) the religion or faith of their choice.

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Usually, a proportion of them live in Christian community and others live in their own homes. Each church household has smaller groups within it – “cell groups” – in which Christian fellowship and outreach to others takes place. These usually happen on Wednesday nights in the home of Jesus Army members and friends. “Congregations” are larger building blocks consisting of all the Jesus Army members in a particular town or city. They are made up of between one to about a dozen church households (depending on the size of the congregation). l

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R o u g h ly o n c e a month, the whole UK church will gather for a “celebration.” Membership The Jesus Army has different styles of membership, depending on the level of commitment to the church that each member chooses. All members of the church have personal Christian faith and commitment to Jesus Christ and will have been baptised as Christian believers either by the Jesus Army or another church. Some remain as “baptised members”: members of the Jesus Fellowship and of their particular church household, but with no further stated commitment. Some members become “covenant members”: members of the Jesus Fellowship and of their particular church household who promise to live according to the church’s “Sevenfold Covenant of Membership”. This is a particular

commitment to live out a lifestyle of Christian discipleship as a lifelong member of the Jesus Army. Covenant members form the committed core of the church. There are four different styles of covenant members: “Style One” covenant members live in their own houses “Style Two” covenant members also live in their own houses, but make particular time and financial commitments “Style Three” covenant members live in New Creation Christian Community (see below) “Style Four” covenant members live at a distance from any Jesus Fellowship congregation, so cannot regularly take part in church life, but still belong Some are “congregational l

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members, whatever their style, are equally valued and loved. The Jesus Army’s “Sevenfold Covenant of Membership”, which all covenant members (of whatever style) aim to commit themselves to, includes: staying true to the Christian faith being committed to the church living the ‘holy lifestyle of a servant’ embracing a shared lifestyle (according to their particular membership style) accepting that being a Christian includes ‘suffering with Christ’ being an accountable disciple an intention to be a lifelong “soldier in the modern Jesus army” l

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A water baptism

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The Jesus Army has started a network of independent churches called “Multiply” which links many churches in the UK and countries across the world in partnership. Multiply now has about 20 UK groups

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Multiply

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members” or “cell group members”: members of the Jesus Army who generally just come to congregational meetings on Sundays or to a midweek cell group. Some of these may progress to become more committed members in time. The Jesus Army also has many friends – not formally members of the church, but those who enjoy coming to Jesus Army meetings and find friendship in the church. Some (though by no means all) will go on to become members of the church. All these different styles of church members may seem confusing! In practice, the Jesus Army’s emphasis on Christian brotherhood means that all

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and about 100 worldwide. Any fellowship, of any size, from any culture or race, is welcome to join Multiply as long as it is basically evangelical. Leaders The Jesus Army has many kinds of leaders: men and women with many different gifts contribute in many ways to the mission and life of the church. Each church household usually has between one and three elders who work as a team to care for, serve and guide its members. As the New Testament teaches, these are men. They will have been Christians (and je s je us je su s je sus su s

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usually part of the Jesus Army) for long enough to have gained respect. Some senior elders take on extra responsibility within a congregation and there is a small group responsible for leading the Jesus Army as a whole. There are also younger men who are recognised as trainee leaders. Other men and women lead in many ways. For instance, they may be involved in leading cell groups and other meetings, be senior volunteers or staff at Jesus Centres or be involved in helping and teaching newer church members. The Jesus Army considers it very important that leaders, particularly elders, are seen as servants not “bosses” with extra privileges. Many Jesus Army leaders and mem-

bers are married, but some have accepted a call from God to remain single for the Lord. Because they are freed from the demands of family life, these celibate men and women are often more available for evangelistic and church-building ministries. New Creation Christian Community Although only about 25 per cent of the members of the Jesus Army actually live in the New Creation Christian Community, it is a vital strength to the church. It is made up of Jesus Army members who have felt God call them to live out the gospel by sharing “all things in common” as in the book of Acts in the New Testament. There are married people, families,


Receiving prayer

puts Christianity “on display” for visitors in a friendly and non-threatening way. Within Community houses the aim is a relatively simple lifestyle – there is, for instance, no television! Food and household goods are generally purchased through a central “Food Distribution Centre”, promoting equality and removing some of the snares of consumerism. je s je us je su s je sus su s

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Community’s members are employed in them. Jesus Fellowship Community Trust owns the community properties, furniture, equipment and vehicles as well as the businesses. Day-to-day running costs are met from common purses at each house. The fund for charitable church activities (Jesus Fellowship Life Trust) is separate. New Creation Christian Community doesn't exist for itself. Having premises with space available, and a community team that has learned to love one another, warts and all, gives opportunity to invite people to come and stay. Street outreach to the disadvantaged can be backed up by the offer of a time of restoration and growth in a family atmosphere. Each week, every Community house has an open evening which includes a meal. This

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singles, and celibates in New Creation Christian Community, living in properties ranging from ordinary three-bedroom houses to a former hotel with room for sixty people. There are around 80 community houses, large and small, spread over much of the UK. Several businesses, owned by and staffed from the Community, provide a service and bring in an income for God’s work: a building supplies firm, a farm, a health-foods wholesalers, and a painting/decorating/plumbing service. More than 250 of the

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Jesus Army Training Year The Jesus Army runs a special programme called “Jesus Army Training Year” for Christians who wish to come and experience the Jesus Army lifestyle for up to a year in order to grow in their faith. Usually, though not always, this involves living in a Community house for the duration of the training. Publications & Resources The regular Multiply Infozine contains details of local congregations and larger meetings as well as details of other UK churches and groups in the Multiply Network. Together

with the free publications Jesus Life magazine and modern Jesus army Streetpaper it is sent thrice yearly to thousands of enquirers and supporters. The Jesus Army has a lively website with up-to-date information, articles, and a web forum. A variety of books and other publications are also available from Jesus People Shop. Other resources include live worship CDs, DVDs, and a variety of clothing and accessories.

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For more info on the Jesus Fellowship/ Jesus Army, contact: Jesus Fellowship Central Offices, FREEPOST, Nether Heyford, Northampton NN7 3BR, UK. Tel: 0845 123 5550 Fax: 0845 166 8178 www.jesus.org.uk e-mail: info@jesus.org.uk Copyright © 2008, Jesus Fellowship Church. All rights reserved. Published by Jesus Fellowship Church, Nether Heyford, Northampton NN7 3LB


Church Alive