Jenny, 36, a Christian celibate, shares a small house in Milton Keynes with six others.
This post is a revised version of one that appeared on the Undivided blog this month.
“FOR A long time, we’d been doing some outreach in Milton Keynes. This involved taking part in local-led community events such as fun days held on local council estates. All of us had a hunger to do more and we were inspired to do something to meet the needs of local people.
“For several years we had all been part of a large community set-up called Living Stones in Northamptonshire and, although we were living in the countryside, we had Milton Keynes on our heart.
“We were all together one Tuesday night and one of the guys, Gideon, said: ‘Why don’t we all move down to Milton Keynes?’
“I’d wanted for a time to live closer to people we were connecting with; I felt I’d be so much more accessible there. In fact, we all wanted something to throw ourselves into and were enthusiastic about the idea.
“Everything happened quickly and by the end of August, we had rented a house in Simpson, an old village mentioned in the Domesday Book and now part of Milton Keynes. The nearby council estate is a short walk under the subway.
“Besides the six of us living in our house, people from Living Stones in Northampton and people living in Milton Keynes are also part of our household. We thought we’d start small; we may have to rent a second house as others join us.
“There’s a lot of freedom and flexibility in a small scene; a few of us can get a vision or idea, and test it out. We quickly see what works and what doesn’t and, if it’s not working, we can swiftly move onto something else – there’s no baggage attached.
“On Saturdays we reach out to people on local estates or do late-night evangelism in the city centre but, if we are all tired, we don’t go. We make sure our Saturday night gatherings are child friendly. We call our way of life ‘freestyle’ – we don’t have lots of plans; we just want to listen to God and do what He inspires us to do.
“In our house, we’re friends; we want to do good to one another; we know each other’s weaknesses and look out for each other; there’s a real family feel around. In a small scene like ours we need everyone on board. We regularly pray together and we find unity is so important! We have to get on; we can’t afford not to.
“We want to be available to people, a place where they can come and find rest, a stepping stone between them and God. I believe that everyone in life is on a journey; we may meet people once on their journey and never see them again and that’s fine. For others, we want to lead them into the fullness of what God has to offer them.
“An advantage to living in a small town house is that people can relate to it and they can walk in and easily feel they belong.
“I think it’s good to be involved in the local community in as many ways as you can – then reach as many people as you can! I’ve found one of the best ways to meet people is to get involved. For instance, I go to a Zumba class on Saturday mornings and when I need to buy something I try to shop locally and usually end up chatting to the lady on the checkout whom I’ve made friends with. We get known; people get to know God (in us). They see God cares because we care. My aim in living here is to make as many friends as possible, to see first-hand people’s lives changed as they find God and to be there for people.
“We find people friendly in Milton Keynes and find that many have some sort of faith already. Very few people are anti-Christian, although we once had our car ‘keyed’ and the word ‘MUG ’ written on the bonnet.
“I’ve been a committed celibate for 11 years now and my vision is to be available to people; for instance, without family ties, I’m free to go out late at night; I’m involved with people with real needs and I’m totally ready to help. As a celibate, I feel I can stay for the duration. I want to go deeper into God and find out what are the things on His heart, to learn not to move too quickly but listen to what He’s saying; I want Him to move first; then me.”