What is Meeting Ground? Why all this emphasis on ‘spiritual misfits’?
The short answer: Meeting Ground is a small church with a particular focus on creating space for people who are working through an evolving faith journey.
But we’re conscious that there are many people out there who are dealing with big questions, like us, and yet experiencing a sense of isolation. Some are well embedded in established communities. They have no intention of leaving – but they can feel like the weirdest relative at the family table. Others, may have completely given up on finding a community, and any faith they have left has become deeply personal and private, perhaps even a source of shame or confusion.
We use the term ‘spiritual misfit’ to describe anyone whose faith journey has led them to feel like they aren’t quite in alignment with the status quo.
Spiritual misfits aren’t just on the ‘outside.’ Sometimes they are at the centre. Sometimes they are leading the thing. There can be good and valid reasons to stay where you are. But you don’t need to feel isolated. Through this website we hope to create a sense of online community and connection that may be a lifeline for some who need it. Many of us now wish something like this existed when we were in our own ‘dark night of the soul’.
And so, this website is our ‘public work’ as a church – but it is not here to grow our particular church or to advertise Sunday services.
It’s here to create a place of connection, encouragement and solidarity for anyone out there who needs it.
It’s our work of liturgy. Our shout of worship. Our voice (in the wilderness?) affirming, encouraging and validating all the misfits out there, like us.
We’re simply here to let you know that you are not alone.
How it began…
We’re part of something pretty unique, called the Garden Network, along with Narara Valley Baptist Church and Greenhouse Church, Long Jetty. In many ways this network is an experiment in unity amidst diversity – we have different approaches, but genuine relationship with each other. NVBC and Greenhouse collaboratively played a role in planting this alternative expression of what church could look like for people on the fringes.
We gather around tables and in homes and orient ourselves around this set of values: inclusion, hospitality, learning Jesus, justice and community beyond us.
The way we practice church community is intentionally small, simple and humble. The upside of this: our times together are pretty dang special, feeling akin to a weekly family meal. The downside: there’s only so many people we can fit in our living rooms.
At the same time, the number of people who can’t quite shake Christianity or are curious about the story of Jesus, but face significant barriers to attending your average mainstream church…is a large and growing group. But it’s also often an invisible group.
We don’t see many people trying to nurture, encourage or affirm that group. Particularly in our Australian context, we sense a real and growing need for an alternative narrative that enables more people to explore Jesus without some of the baggage that may have stopped them in the past. From sexuality to mental health, diverse approaches to scripture and unique generational challenges — our hope is that we could create a safe space that prioritises the inclusion of those who have unfairly experienced exclusion.
There are many beautiful churches out there of all shapes and sizes, doing this in a myriad of ways. We don’t set ourselves up in opposition to any church where people are finding healthy spirituality and flourishing. But we sense a unique and specific calling to the ‘one sheep’ who wasn’t feeling the vibe with the 99.
Over time, we dream of more ‘flesh and blood’ communities like ours, meeting in people’s homes and nurturing an authentic, vulnerable faith network that is good news for them and their neighbourhoods. If you’d be interested in starting something like that, holler at us. We might be able to coach or encourage you to find your own band of holy misfits.
Otherwise jump on our mailing list and connect with us to join an unfolding, robust conversation about what it might look like to follow Jesus without the BS.