Grounding Kit

Photo by Bernard Hermant on Unsplash

You have found a Jesus Network Kit.

What is the Jesus Network, and what are our kits?

Briefly, the Jesus Network is an ecumenical network of people who are committed to practicing, studying and training the teachings that Jesus describes as foundational: the teachings in the Sermon on the Mount and the Sermon on the Plain.

We are not an organization, but we love organizations. We love all kinds of people and things that we aren’t, in fact. We can do that because we are differentiated from, but also connected with, others.

A kit is a set of trainings that we have found to be consistently beneficial to people who practice them, and which equip people in a wide variety of ways when they are practiced well. If someone learns all of the elements of a kit, it can help them produce and reproduce lasting and positive change around them, by the faith of Jesus.

Everything that the Jesus Network does is always free, open source, unpaid, and decentralized. We do not paywall or gatekeep resources, including in-person training, videos, or written resources. If someone is charging money for a training, it is not a Jesus Network training and (as Peter says to Simon Magus in Acts 8) “it has no part in this ministry.”

The Grounding Kit is designed to help Jesus Network participants connect with God and each other. If practiced wisely and with generous hearts, it can help you find and honor common ground as well as difference.

These trainings are designed to be explored by a small cohort of 3 or 4 people in any order. Each training is generative and open-ended. This is an important aspect of the training itself, because it means that the cohort consistently exercises respect for everyone’s agency, consensus-building through mutual listening and respect, group discernment, and creative problem solving as a team. People are likely to spend a year or more exploring the different elements of the kit. It can provide the basis for lifegiving and lifelong growth in faith, in a loving and non-controlling community. Groups of about 3 or 4 meet regularly, often weekly, and each training session is designed to take an hour and a half. After each meeting, the members discern and decide whether they’d like to meet again, and decide on which mode of training they’d like to engage with at the next meeting.

Still, a group of 3 people can listen to each cohort member for 1.5 hours and then try the other two trainings in just 5 sessions over a period of seven and a half hours. So if a group wants to do a weekend workshop to get acquainted with the kit, that is also an option.

The Grounding Kit has three training styles in it, and groups can discern together which they’d like to start with. Each one serves a distinct purpose and integrates deeply with the other two. Here is a brief summary of each one.

Spiritual Friendship

Build authentic, empowering, and non-controlling spiritual friendships, using the tools of spiritual direction in an egalitarian and mutual way.

This training will help your group set a rhythm of respectful and non-judgmental deep listening. This can open the door to rich friendships with each other, and with other people in your lives. There are a lot of resources on the topic of spiritual friendship. This kit primarily leans into Margaret Guenther’s approach in Holy Listening.

You can get a very quick intro to the practice here, and a narrative description of what it is like here.

This can be an ideal first training for groups that are interested in discerning vocations, breaking through isolation and loneliness, and developing soul-sustaining rhythms and habits.

Plain Training

Begin or continue a journey into a deepening Christian faith, rooted in the foundational teachings of Jesus in Luke 6: the Sermon on the Plain.

This training will help your group encounter the challenging and liberating core of Christian faith, including enemy love, joyful solidarity with the poor, and the work of reconciliation. It will help you discern areas where you have common ground in your understandings and commitments, while also honoring differences, even where they matter a lot. For groups that are interested in Bible study, book clubs, discipleship, theology, social change, or collaborative research work, this can be an ideal first training.

Connect Ladder

Connect with others in ways that honor everyone’s agency instead of undermining it.

This training will help you build relationships that honor people deeply and which are genuinely helpful. It is designed to replace manipulative evangelization, proselytizing, and high-pressure ‘leadership development’ with a fundamentally different way of connecting and growing in our callings together.

This is often not taken as the first training, although it might be especially helpful for people who suspect that this is all just another form of manipulative evangelism. It clearly lays out the process and logic of network growth and social reproduction, but without manipulative threats of endless torture, hype, or other abusive theological frames. We are serious about grassroots training, equipping and movement building. And we are serious about doing it in ways that really do respect people, instead of manipulating them. The Connect Ladder explicitly trains people how to replace manipulative “evangelism,” in its many forms, with real connections among people and with God.

What’s next?

You can feel free to use these resources to start your own group, or try them out in an existing small group! You can also take a larger group such as a regular Bible study, gather in a common place, and then break into groups of 3 or 4 for the Grounding Kit training.

At the same time, it is often helpful to have more experienced practitioners guide you through the kit. A lot of what is learned in these trainings is caught at least as much as it is taught. Because of the flexible nature of the training, new cohorts are easy to start, both in person and online. Feel free to reach out to us on FB here.

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Daniel Heck

Community Organizer. Enemy Lover. Pastor. Practices honest, serious, loving and fun discourse. (Yes, still just practicing.) Author of According to Folly, etc.