A couple of weeks ago, I wrote about why we call our community of faith “The Table”. (You can read that here.) And last week, I started a series of posts on why we refer to our community as “Jesus Centred” (And you can read that one over here.) Today I want to explain another term we use to describe ourselves…Parish-Based Micro-Church.
Originally we used to say “Neighbourhood Based”, but as we have shared previously, “neighbourhood” is considered an “American” term. So we have settled on Parish…and here is what we are thinking.
What Do We Mean When We Say Parish?
In the book The New Parish, the authors write that a parish is a geographic area,
“large enough to live life together (live, work, play, etc.)
and small enough to be a character within it”. (1)
In Dublin, an estate is probably too small. While the entire city of Dublin, or even something like a postcode, would be too large. As the Dublin InQuirer stated in 2021, a neighbourhood or a parish is “More a Feeling Than a Line”.(2) This isn’t a hard and fast rule. You and your neighbours are the best judges of what makes up your parish.
The idea of a Parish is simply a helpful way to get us thinking about where we live and how we can be a blessing to our neighbours.
Why Parish-Based Communities?
First, let us say that we love the whole church and believe that every part committed to serving Jesus and their community in humility is valuable. We likewise think that no one church can adequately represent Jesus to their city. Every church — including us — has its own strengths and weaknesses.
A church located in city centre, or at a distance from where its members live, becomes disembodied. Church becomes someplace we go or something we do on Sunday but has little connection to our everyday lives. When church happens in or around a building, our primary way of sharing our faith becomes inviting others to travel with us, leave their community and go to that building in another part of town to hear about Jesus.
In parish-based communities, the church is part of the neighbourhood. Other members of our church family live around us, and we interact throughout the week. We are aware of and connected to the needs and opportunities in our parish.
Rather than extracting people from their community and existing networks, a micro-church calls us to live out our faith in our parish and demonstrate life in God’s kingdom as we bless and serve those who live, work and play around us!
So, that is our thinking. Any thoughts?
(1) Sparks, P., Soerens, T. & Friesen, D.J. (2014) The New Parish, InterVarsity Press.
(2) Dublin InQuirer, (29 September 2021). In Dublin, a Neighbourhood Boundary Is Sometimes More a Feeling Than a Line, by Claudia Dalby.
Photo Credit: The photo is one I took of my neighbourhood a few weeks ago.