One of the last words our founder, Noel, spoke to us as a church before he died earlier this year was that we ought to be 'untamed'.
As a church, we've pioneered quite a few risky ventures in our time, and sometimes taken flack for it. Residential Christian community with all things in common, I passionately belive to be a wonderful vision - but I've seen it twisted to appear like control or deprivation of freedom. Being an upfront 'Jesus army' gets to the nitty-gritty of where the UK is hurting and seeks to make a difference to the poorest. But I've seen it pilloried as the 'barmy army' a hard-recruting, over-laddish (or even thuggish) approach to Christianity. Jesus Centres, providing 'friendship and help for all' have won widespread public support, but we face all the internal risks of a venture that stretches our resources, capacity - and our faith.
We've not sat still as a church; we're nothing if not activists. Even so, there's the danger, always, that we sit back on our laurels, pat ourselves on our collective back as a 'radical church', waking up one day to find ourselves washed up on the shores of irrelevancy, living in the fading light of our former glory days.
And so our founding leader gave the call - stay wild, keep taking risks. Once we know what we're called to, we must ride the criticism and see it through: humbly, patiently - yet resolutely. Untamed.
We want to take the challenge to heart. 'mJa untamed' has become something of a watchword among us. It feels significant, like the last word from our founding era. People talk it up, chew it over. We've even made some t-shirts displaying it.
Well - I've bought the t-shirt. Now to live the life...