Australia

Giving up coffee, movies, clothing to help the needy

One local church is pooling their resources so they can love the vulnerable and disadvantaged

A core group of staff and volunteers at Collective Church in Brisbane have given up the luxuries of life – the daily barista coffee, the expensive restaurant meals, cinema outings and new clothes – to invest in a bank account that can support other Christians in need.

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It’s part of a fourfold strategy to live the way Jesus spoke about and how the disciples in the early church lived. And they are experiencing the miraculous abundance that flows when Christians follow Jesus’ teaching to pour out their lives for one another.

“The only reason I didn’t do this before is that I was not willing to pay the price.” – James Schleusener

The New Testament book of Acts says: “Everyone was filled with awe at the many wonders and signs performed by the apostles. All the believers were together and had everything in common.” (2:43-44)

“That’s what’s happening to us right now,” says pastor James Schleusener. “We’re seeing these miracles happen. We’re being filled with awe at the kingdom of God and what Jesus would do. We’re not eating our seed, we’re planting our seed so that we can all eat the fruit of the kingdom and help people.”

Schleusener believes that inside every Christian is a desire to love other Christians without boundaries, as Jesus loved us – unto death. But the spirit is at war with the flesh, which warns that it is foolish for someone with family responsibilities to give up money to help someone in greater need and just depend on Jesus to supply their needs.

“I’m not anti-establishment – I love the Church.” – James Schleusener

“The only reason I didn’t do this before is that I was not willing to pay the price,” Schleusener admits. “But once I gave up my food and my drink, my clothes and all the trimmings – all the wasted money – I was set free. And then abundance just started coming in. I’ve been given so much money, just randomly, during the last couple of days.”

“This is how the kingdom of Jesus operates. He abundantly supplies. When you give up your life, Jesus says that for my sake, you find it. Once you actually apply kingdom principles like Jesus says, you don’t lose that stuff; people start to give it to you. The thing is, you actually are more blessed. It’s crazy.”

Collective Church has been meeting in Brisbane’s CBD for about a year and a half. Schleusener says he had felt frustrated by the limits Christians place on loving each other. He started discussing with his core group about how to move towards a ‘kingdom lifestyle.’

“I’m not anti-establishment – I love the Church. I just believe that we’re coming into a new season where we’re going to see a new model of church which isn’t built on programmes but it’s built on love for one another. I know it sounds so simple – it sounds like what we preach every week – but I think our church structures and programmes aren’t supporting our message. So we started to consider what would a structure look like if it did support our message.”

“It’s still free will – otherwise, it becomes some sort of cult.” – James Schleusener

The first boundary they broke down in their busy lives was the boundary of time.

“We commit to eating together regularly and having a genuine communion. The second thing we commit to is the teachings of Jesus. And we discuss what Jesus said when we get together – what does this look like in our lives today?

“The third thing is fellowship, but fellowship is more than socially hanging out, laughing together. It’s a support network where we help each other.”

That’s why the church has set up a new bank account to which ten people are contributing, but another 15 to 20 want to join in.

“It’s not like a rule of how much money are you giving, have you been out for coffee this week? It’s still free will – otherwise, it becomes some sort of cult. It’s all free will and it’s on top of our tithes,” he says.

“That account is purely to help people serve in the church. And it’s not just our church – I mean, any church. Any Christian needs that we hear about, we’ve got an account that is first and foremost to help believers in need.”

“I just believe this is a genuine revival…” – James Schleusener

The final thing they do is pray for one another and build each other up in their Christian faith, using their spiritual gifts. “We’re creating a more authentic environment where it’s OK to ask for help, where it’s OK to admit our weaknesses, it’s OK to say, ‘Look I’m struggling with this.’”

“But the goal is ultimately to have our church meeting together in different locations every night, every lunchtime, every breakfast, just everywhere. Wherever people can get together, they’re doing this and I just believe this is a genuine revival because that’s the kind of Christian I want to be.”

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