LONDON – Dancers weave through pulsating light to the throb of the in-house band, Xcommunicated, at Club X in the Irish city of Cork.
The X is not the “adults-only” variety but the Greek letter chi, a symbol for Christ.
“Club X isn’t a Christian version of a secular nightclub – it’s much, much better,” according to the Web site of Grace Christian Fellowship, based in Cork.
Located in the Irish Republic’s second-largest city, Grace Christian Fellowship is one of the many vibrant Christian communities in Ireland and the United Kingdom that are discovering the Anabaptist Network.
The Anabaptist Network grew out of the ministries of the London Mennonite Centre and provides a forum for Christians of many denominations to explore how Anabaptism can revitalize the church.
Can a revitalized church transform a generation of youth? With ministries like Club X, Grace Christian Fellowship is trying.
“Club X demonstrates how contemporary radical Christianity actually is,” said Tom Burke, Grace’s head elder. “We believe that our young people, sometimes called Generation X, can be transformed into a generation that loves and serves the Lord Jesus Christ.”
Serious Bible study, mission and using the arts to worship in creative ways are also important components of Club X’s ministry.
Tim Foley, a Mennonite Mission Network representative based in London, has been in conversation with the elders of Grace Christian Fellowship about the possibility of collaborating in short-term mission projects.
The multiethnic congregation has grown from 10 to 180 members in five years and would welcome relationships with Anabaptists that span national boundaries.
Foley is convinced short-term mission will mutually benefit both North American Christians and their counterparts in Ireland and the United Kingdom.
“In addition to providing a cross-cultural context in which to test their vocational calling, Americans are welcome here,” Foley said. “Our youth get excited about American youth.”
While a Mennonite short-term mission worker could help with visitation, youth activities and administration duties, service at Grace Christian Fellowship would broaden the horizons of North Americans.
“We want to serve Mennonites, too,” Burke said.
Another community desiring short-term mission workers committed to Anabaptist beliefs is London’s Round Chapel and its neighborhood project, Round Here.
Round Here reaches out into its inner-city community through a food cooperative, community meals, a credit union, providing Internet access and just welcoming people in for tea and a chat.
Urban Expressions, another London member of the Anabaptist Network, sends teams of church planters into the under-churched sections of London. These self-supporting teams move into a community and search for new, home-based ways of being a church.
“[The teams] are not in a rush,” Foley said. “They introduce Jesus gently, starting from people’s lived experience.”
Another Urban Expression church planter has played pick-up basketball games with community youth every night for six years.
“He hasn’t preached yet,” Foley said. “This seems small, but it’s big.”
Conscience, a campaign for the legal right to have the military portion of taxes spent on peace-building initiatives, also would welcome a volunteer to help with research, administration, publicity and lobbying.
These are just a few of the exciting opportunities for short-term mission that Foley sees unfolding.
“I’m eager to get started,” he said. “I could use 12 people straight away, and they don’t have to be young. They just need energy. We’re not looking for degrees or highly qualified people. We’re looking for culturally sensitive Anabaptists who are willing to model Christ in loving and serving others.”
Foley also is one of the pastors at Wood Green Mennonite Church in London, the only Mennonite congregation in the United Kingdom.
This article was reprinted with permission from the Mennonite Weekly Review.