How The Friends of Jesus Fellowship Works
The Friends of Jesus Fellowship seeks to make the kingdom of God visible, welcoming every person to Christ’s table. Our community is dynamic and multi-faceted. FOJF can be imagined as a series of concentric circles, representing a journey towards greater depth of involvement, formal commitment, and accountability in community.
The largest circle is our wider network, which provides a space for everyone, including those who are simply curious about our community and mission. The second layer of FOJF is our member communities: committed local and virtual fellowships that share accountability and formal membership as a body. As we approach the smallest circle, we find the Friends of Jesus workers. Our workers are members of local or virtual fellowships who take on the additional responsibilities and commitments necessary to care for the life of the Friends of Jesus Fellowship as a whole.
Our Wider Network
At its broadest level, the Friends of Jesus Fellowship provides a space for cooperation between groups and individuals seeking to be faithful to the living presence of Jesus. As we make his love known through prayer, worship, friendship, service, and outreach, the wider network of Friends of Jesus is a community where we can check in and be strengthened as we share the good news and develop our spiritual depth and grounding.
Everyone is welcome and encouraged to participate in our wider network. There are a variety of ways to engage: through gatherings and small groups sponsored by our local & virtual communities; in our social media spaces; or at events put on by the Fellowship as a whole, such as our Spring and Fall Gatherings. Participation on this level requires no special commitment or formal membership; just a willingness to welcome others in love and friendship, and to respect the mission and vision of the Fellowship.
As we step inward to the next circle, we find that the Friends of Jesus Fellowship exists as a community of communities. We are a fellowship of local and virtual groups, united by a shared sense of identity, mission, and commitment to one another in Christ.
Each member community is a concrete expression of the Friends of Jesus as a body. Our communities meet regularly for worship, spiritual formation, mutual support, and fun; they reach out to neighbors with God’s love.
In reality, our local communities contain both the “wider network” circle, as well as the second circle. All of our local communities are made up both those who have made the formal commitment to membership in that group, as well as many others who are still discerning whether that might be the right step for them.
Those who do become members of our communities agree to promote and live within the FOJF Commitments, sustaining their local/virtual groups. If possible, they participate in wider FOJF gatherings. Membership in our local/virtual groups is a living commitment, revisited and reaffirmed regularly in that community.
Together as a body, the members of our communities guide the overall direction of FOJF. They also welcome new communities into the fellowship.
Welcoming New Communities
The Friends of Jesus Fellowship seeks to be an expanding community of local and virtual fellowships. We aim to facilitate the development of new groups and, when appropriate, welcome existing groups into the Fellowship. We hope that the process of welcoming new communities into the fellowship will be neither overly rushed, nor unnecessarily slow. Above all, we seek to be faithful to the will of God and to act out of a clear sense that we have been knit together in the life and power of the Holy Spirit.
In our desire to be faithful in recognizing the uniting work that Christ is doing among us, we have developed the following process by which a new group may come into full membership in the Friends of Jesus Fellowship:
- A new community emerges, or an existing community seeks to be in formal relationship with FOJF.
- The FOJF workers group develops a relationship with the new group. In some cases, the workers may establish a care relationship directly with the new group; in other cases, the workers may invite an existing member group to take the new group under its wing.
- As much time as necessary may pass as the new group and the wider Fellowship engage in shared discernment and explore what it means to live in committed community together.
- When the workers group and the new community have reached clarity to proceed, the workers recommend that the FOJF accept the new group into membership as a full member community.
- The gathered body of community members affirms the recommendation of the workers, welcoming the new community into full membership. (All individual members of the new group now become members of the FOJF body as a whole.)
The Friends of Jesus Workers
The workers of the Friends of Jesus Fellowship are a core of leaders from among our local and virtual communities. They take active responsibility for the ongoing work of the Fellowship as a whole. Together, the workers oversee support and guidance for our communities, nurture emerging spiritual gifts, organize events, coordinate outreach, and help establish new communities.
Workers make an annual commitment to membership in this group, in addition to their membership in a local or virtual community. (Once established, membership may be renewed each year by decision of the individual, unless the workers feel unity to release an individual from membership.) Service as a worker requires frequent telecommunication and some travel for face to face gatherings and ministry opportunities.
Commissioning New Workers
The mission of the Friends of Jesus workers touches the entire body of our Fellowship. For this reason, membership in the workers involves the consideration of our local/virtual communities. The following is our process for welcoming new members of the workers group:
- Workers from a local or virtual community suggest the name of a new worker to the workers group. (In the absence of a local/virtual community, the workers may take the initiative to nominate an individual who is active in organizing a new community.)
- The workers consider the name. If in unity with the suggestion, it approves that the individual be added to the community of workers, pending affirmation by the individual’s local/virtual community. (If no local community yet exists, the workers may choose to welcome the new member immediately.)
- The workers request that the community where the individual holds membership affirm the determination of the Friends of Jesus workers.
- The local community affirms the decision of the workers, and the individual is recorded as a member of the workers group.