What is the Jesus Network?

Photo by Nora Görlitz on Unsplash

We are an ecumenical network of people who are committed to practicing, studying and training the teachings that Jesus describes as foundational.

Our network is grounded in a shared commitment to the teachings that Jesus describes as foundational: the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5–7) and the Sermon on the Plain (Luke 6). These include particularly challenging teachings about loving enemies, giving to all who ask of us, and creating communities of people who are practicing self-correction by removing the planks from our own eyes. Jesus assures his followers that those who hear and do these things will build things that endure, like wise people building on rock. He also teaches that those who don’t will build things that collapse. (Matthew 7:24–27, Luke 6:46–49). We think Jesus was correct when he said these things. Even though these teachings are counter-intuitive and challenging, we’re convinced that they hold up under scrutiny and trial, insofar as they are actually applied.

We’re moved by a shared hope that we can live in a meaningfully better world if more Christians really focus on learning to do these things more joyfully, reliably and effectively, as a clean movement of grace from first to last. Our goal is not to make people feel ashamed of not doing these things, but is instead to help each other understand and apply these teachings more wisely, deeply and fully. Because these teachings are so challenging to really understand and live out, we are also committed to study and live into them reflectively and carefully over time, in a spirit of generosity toward ourselves and others. This is not the sort of thing that anyone fully arrives at in this life, and that’s part of the beauty of it.

We’re convinced that these teachings are at the very center and the foundation of Christian faith and the Gospel, even though they have often been marginalized in order to make way for hatred, violence, alliances with the rich and powerful, and hypocrisy.

We use a wide variety of approaches to help restore these practices and ideas to their properly foundational place in Christian life: in Christian feeling, identity, thought, practice and more. Our core approaches include, but are not limited to: prayer, reflection, research, training, teaching, mutual support and communications. In a word, what we do is practice. And practice is fully meant in two senses: we try things with the goal of learning to do them better, and we actually do this stuff. We are committed followers trying to understand and follow Jesus, not experts at following Jesus.

We are a deepening network of doers.

Our network helps people become more effective at training ourselves and others in the foundational teachings of Jesus.

The network is organized into functional and purpose-built teams of people who are deeply connected to each other and to God, coordinating to promote Christian formation and training.

As a network, we emphasize differentiated solidarity among people, focused intently, gently and relentlessly on a common mission. Being differentiated means that we place enormous weight on the profound spiritual and strategic value of diversity in all forms, especially because that differentiation highlights the deep core of our solidarity in the foundational teachings of Jesus.

We love and need institutions, but the network is not an institution.

We deeply appreciate institutions, and they are essential to the work that we do. We strongly encourage network participants to deeply participate in at least one local congregation if at all possible, and we facilitate grassroots connection across denominations and other organizations. We encourage participants to ecumenically pursue the mission of Jesus in and with and through their local Jesus-centered community.

The network accepts no donations and has no formal leadership. Instead, we encourage practitioners to lead by example, whether they are in formal leadership roles or not.

We strictly avoid fundraising for our network for several reasons:

It enables us to clarify that we are a network of people who are working in a wide variety of institutions, without competing with those institutions for financial resources, credit, status or attention. Network participants openly partner with and support institutions, but never aim to displace them with the network.

This “holy poverty” of the network is also crucial because ever-deepening, joyful and gracious generosity is central to the foundational message of Jesus. With a message like that, there is a risk that it will attract people who want to exploit the power of the message for selfish ends. By structurally rejecting fundraising for the network itself, we can demonstratively clarify that our message is one of fostering and effecting generosity to the poor. We want to always keep in mind that Jesus enjoined the rich man to give all he had to the poor and then follow Jesus, not give all his money to Jesus and then do whatever.

We facilitate mutual aid and support.

We are each committed to supporting others in the network when they do work that advances the goals of the network, as each of us discern and understand it. This includes using, sharing, building on, and promoting each others’ work that relates to the core mission.

Specific mutual aid commitments are always discerned by the individuals in the network, and by the organizations that they work with according to the internal processes of those organizations. The network facilitates connections among people and with God, understanding that this can help its participants discern mutual aid opportunities. So the network facilitates mutual aid for our common mission, but does not command or control any mutual aid itself because it commands and controls no one and nothing.

Our resources are open source and always free.

One of our main work areas involves building and maintaining a common pool of excellent, freely-available, up-to-date and well-organized training resources. Here is an example of a resource we are currently using to build the network: the Grounding Kit.

We use, develop, synthesize, share and organize to help people train in doing the fundamental Jesus stuff. Like our tools, our trainings are also always free and open-source. If someone is charging money for something then it is not part of the Jesus Network. People are invited and encouraged to use Jesus Network resources in their own ministries in any way it may feel helpful.

The Jesus network isn’t the church or the Jesus movement. We are passionately a part of the broader church and the broader movement of Jesus-followers throughout history.

Because faithfulness to Jesus is globally dispersed over millennia, our network can only ever be a small part of something far bigger than us. However, we are dedicated to advancing the church and the movement of God where we are, in our sliver of space and time. The work of the network helps the Jesus movement become more coordinated, effective and aware of itself. We primarily do this by cultivating strategic coordination and training across the vast array of churches and communities where God is already active.

We aren’t trying to build an organization to retain and exercise power and authority, but are instead completely dedicated to pouring out the transformative power of faithfulness to Jesus.

We are open to, and deeply interested in, everyone.

The network isn’t concerned with regulating membership, and doesn’t try to build power by just drawing in powerful actors or influencers. We are interested in individual human beings as precious human beings. Our model of social change involves grassroots transformation and the turning of hearts to Jesus, regardless of social status and influence. People are part of the Jesus network simply by participation. The more deeply someone participates, the more they are a part of it, and the less deeply they participate the less they are a part of it. We are grateful for all participation. We bless those who are moving into deeper participation in the network and we also bless those who are moving away from our network, so that the network can be a simple instrument of God’s grace in peoples’ lives.

Always learning, growing and beginning again.

God is infinite and we are finite. That means that in this life at least (and if Gregory of Nyssa is correct, even in a restored creation) we will always have room to learn and grow and start new things. So let’s always begin again.




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

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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.