It’s clear from the scientific and experiential evidence that humans are wired for connection. So it makes sense that from the beginning, following Jesus was meant to be done together, not alone. It’s in the context of community that we experience belonging. It’s where our deepest spiritual and emotional needs are met. It’s where we learn and grow to become more like Jesus. But most importantly, it’s one of the primary pathways to encountering God. Jesus himself said, “For where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I among them.”  Since the origins of Mighty Pursuit in 2018, we’ve been searching the United States for communities who were authentically and beautifully representing the way of Jesus. This was a highly intentional, five-year process spread across 35+ trips to over 20 cities. We knew before creating a pathway for you to join these communities, we had to first get to know them ourselves. Our measuring stick was quite simple: the early church, before it became institutionalized (33 AD - 300 AD). Starting as a grassroots movement in ancient Israel, the original followers of Jesus transformed the ancient world by their radical love. Facing virtually impossible odds, the movement grew organically to over a million people by the year 300 AD. Keep in mind there was no media, no marketing and a high-risk of being killed for your faith. People were so compelled by the way Jesus followers lived that they couldn't resist joining in. Sociologists have long been dumbfounded by how this happened. Our team is transfixed by this simple idea: if we could capture the characteristics, rhythms and love of the eraly church, how would that transform our world today? The results of our travels been remarkable. We were highly encouraged by what we experienced. While we visited over 20 cities, we have chosen to launch first in six of those – New York City, San Francisco, Denver, Seattle, Portland and Boston. To get a sense of what we looked for, here are some of the characteristics we used to measure the holistic health in each community, as compared to the original followers of Jesus.


Throughout his life, Jesus drew near to the marginalized and displayed great concern for those pushed aside by society.  Our partner communities are actively engaged in efforts to welcome, host, feed and serve marginalized groups of people, including (but not limited to) the homeless, disabled, immigrants, refugees, trafficking victims, foster children, at-risk youth and vulnerable women. These efforts are not simply charity, though. The culture of these communities position everyone alongside each other regardless of social status. Jesus establishes a culture where those high on the social ladder are seen coming down and those low are seen moving up.  The first move towards the last and the last move towards those who are first. Gaps are closed, unlevel fields are made level, and imbalance is resolved as love lives and moves.


It’s hard to understate the importance of the table in the early days. The original followers of Jesus met in homes, regularly sharing meals together. Our partner communities have modeled their rhythms after this. Every Sunday the entire community gets together for a large gathering centered on worship and teaching, but during the week, there are smaller gatherings in homes, coffee shops and other venues.  These gatherings give you a space for vulnerability, hospitality, belonging and learning. They hold space for both celebration and suffering. The culture of these groups center around regularly sharing as much of the journey of one's life as is possible, with the ultimate purpose of becoming more like Jesus. 


Patriarchy had no place with the earliest followers of Jesus. Our society rarely recognizes this, but it is well-documented that Jesus' treatment and attitudes towards women was revolutionary.  Our partner communities go beyond mere lip service towards women. Putting their words into action, they actively create practical pathways to equip and empower women in their giftings.  But this is not done at the expense of men. Our partner communities embrace a healthy vision of masculinity, modeled by Jesus. In these contexts, we see a beautiful dynamic emerge, where men and women work together, side-by-side. Both genders are lifted up, simultaneously. In doing so, our partner communities are recapturing the narrative of Genesis 1. We witness what God intended at the beginning of time, where men and women are equal in worth, dignity and authority.


In the West, the Bible has a less-than-flattering reputation, due to the perceived nature of what it represents. But in the eyes of Jesus, scripture is a treasure to behold. He holds that it is among one of the primary ways that God chose to reveal himself to the world.  Jesus professed it to be a work of love, holding that all of its contents can be summed up in these two commandments: to love God and love other people.  When properly taught and understood, we discover a revelatory framework for how to see God, see ourselves, go about our daily lives and transform the world with love. It is the source of truth and wisdom, teaching us about the nature of humanity and why Jesus is good news for all of us.  Partner communities view and teach the Bible through the following understanding: God divinely inspired the authors to write the Old and New Testament.  These books were not written to the modern era but they are divinely intended for the modern era. Each book is written in a distinct genre, through an individual human skill-set, from a unique human personality, to specific people, in specific moments in history, with regard to specific cultures, specific worldviews and specific mythological and scientific backdrops.  What we call hermeneutics is a method of interpretation aimed at discerning the author’s original intent to the intended audience through grammatical, contextual, cultural, and historical context. The 66 books in the library of scripture are still ultimately true for today, still prescriptively authoritative in practice and belief, with one unified story that points to Jesus.


Our partner communities recognize that as whole beings, our spiritual life is not meant to be compartmentalized. As we follow Jesus, we must also pay attention to our emotional, mental, physical and relational health. Since all of these parts are intricately connected, we cannot neglect one part and expect the others to flourish. In other words, we cannot ignore our emotional health and expect to thrive in our spirituality and relationships. Nor can we neglect our bodies and expect to thrive in all other areas.


In the West, religion has often been weaponized and politicized. But this does not align with the teachings of Jesus or his way of life. Our partnership communities align with issues, not parties. They avoid divisive partisan endorsements and refuse to attribute the way of Jesus to political camps, as no one party holds all the solutions to the issues we see. These communities view the way of Jesus as “the third option” and refuse to idolize politicians or policies as the means to personal and societal flourishing. But they are also not passive in addressing policies which ultimately impact people, such as the marginalized we mentioned in the section above.  Thus, partner communities are not silent. They address local and national politics where necessary, but do so with the posture of Jesus - with love, peace, patience, kindness, gentleness and self-control. This means they are thoughtful with their words and actions, careful not to engage in slander or inflammatory rhetoric. 


From the beginning, Jesus did not call his followers into a passive spirituality. As the most beautiful human who ever lived, his invitation is to pattern our entire lives around him. Perhaps one reason why the church and scripture hold a fractured reputation in the West is because recent generations have at times only been Jesus followers by name, but not practice. Our partnership communities are constantly asking this question: what would the world look like if every man, woman, and child would look, love and live like Jesus? Practically, this means orienting their groups and their gatherings around this idea of spiritual formation. Spaces to learn and practice the lifestyle of Jesus are offered by the local community alongside practical resources and relational support. These communities clearly define and outline the spiritual journey in front and center ways.


Central to the way of Jesus is that all humans possess inherent worth and are made the image of God. Therefore, the full beauty of humanity is on display through diversity. Our partner communities publicly acknowledge and reject all discrimination. These communities are resolute in publicly and practically working towards the unity of all people under Jesus. This involves a commitment to vulnerable multi-ethnic relationships, proactive education regarding the historic nature of racism in human societies, and an understanding of racially motivated injustice in human history. Together, these are all important to understanding the systemic ethnocentric issues we risk repeating and important for sustaining the work of re-humanizing misunderstood people groups. These communities affirm in word and deed the infinite beauty and worth of every male and female individual on the planet as bearers of the image and likeness of God. Local ethnic minorities are practically empowered, supported and championed by these communities as faithfully moving toward racial equality and racial justice.


While this is intended to just be a brief overview of some of the characteristics we look for, if you have further questions you can email us at hello@mightypursuit.com and we'd be happy to chat with you. It has been beautiful to witness these communities humbly pursue these characteristics and principles, but they are by no means perfect. While Jesus is the standard, each community is full of imperfect people, in need of grace and forgiveness. This goes to say, the expectation should never be that you’ll never get hurt in a Jesus-centered community. But when we do, we acknowledge our common humanity, learning the daily rhythms of asking for forgiveness, forgiving, encouraging and believing the best about each other. With Jesus and his way of life as the north star, there is always another opportunity to reorient ourselves back to him.