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The Purpose

To inspire the church worldwide with a working model of an open fellowship with a mission orientation functioning as an intentional community.
  1. A working model.
    Our goal is multiplication, not mere addition. We do not wish to become huge, but to inspire many others around the world with the fact that God can create unique communities anyplace and anytime He can find people who are willing to let His love mold them into a reflection of Himself.
  2. An open fellowship.
    We are theologically conservative and have no doctrinal innovations that would not be broadly recognized by charismatic, evangelical, or reformed Christians. Yet we are different:
    • We are non-hierarchical. We do believe in good leadership, but prefer it to be anointed rather than appointed (elected).
    • We believe everyone who calls himself a disciple of Jesus Christ should be a responsible member of his congregation, taking a proactive role according to his gifts without continual prodding. We believe that dumping all the work on a pastor is not Biblical and breeds irresponsibility.
    • Our Sunday and Tuesday evening meetings are not programmed, but led by the Holy Spirit. This does not imply that members come unprepared; it simply means that the order of worship is not pre-set or subtly designed to produce a religious high. We feel I Corinthians 14:26 (everybody bring something the Lord has given him to share) is normal.
    We do, however, have consistently exciting gatherings. Although attendance is not required, we would be puzzled if a Living Springs resident chose not to take part in such encouraging, life-giving meetings.
  3. A mission orientation.
    Our ranch is remote and secluded; our hearts are not. We are intimately involved in world mission:
    • Individually, our residents have great interest and involvement in ministry in Afghanistan, Iran, prison work, and the local community. A nearby hugely successful skating rink run by dedicated Christians is a magnet for young people.
    • Collectively, our community mission continues to evolve. So far, our hearts have not been led beyond the simple statement of purpose in bold face type above. We want to show that a committed fellowship of believers living together in a residential village can work.
    But as God sends us more people, we anticipate that our vision will become clearer and broader.
  4. An intentional community.
    Ever since A.D. 70, when Christians fled the revolt in Jerusalem and clumped together 55 miles northeast in Pella, God's people have been trying to make spiritual retreats work long term.

    Medium term, they have often succeeded. Much good, for instance, came from The Desert Fathers, who opted for hermit's lives in North Africa. Their hermitages became so popular, it was once commented that more Christians lived in the desert than the cities! But they became so incredibly ingrown that before the time of Mohammed, the church actually had to begin importing priests from Southern Europe. And when Mohammed rose up, the church was too weak to resist. It disappeared.

    The problem of optimizing Christian community was solved -disastrously- by Emperors Constantine I and Theodosius I. They simply drafted everybody into their Church. At the start of the Fourth Century, the church was perhaps 4% to 5% of the Roman Empire. By the end of that century, it was about 80%. Nobody got saved in that process, you understand; converting just became the politically correct thing to do. So the backbone of the church crumbled, and in 476, Rome fell to the barbarians and slid right into the Dark Ages.

    We won't take the space here to trace the confused history of struggling Christian communities for the next 16 centuries. Suffice it to say, many were either squashed by ruthless governments or fellow Christians or fell victim to their own inherent weaknesses.

    At this point in history, the world is still awaiting a model of Christian church or community that will get people excited enough to join it in large numbers. We cannot guarantee that Living Springs will turn out perfectly in every respect; but we are confident that we know where many of the major pitfalls lie. By allowing the Spirit of Jesus Christ to run the show in a rather direct fashion, we have hope of succeeding where many others have failed.


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