– Who We Are –
How We Started
Matt Bailey was feeling a call. It was the fall of 2009, and Matt felt the Spirit calling him to do something in Danville. The question was: what? So one Saturday, Matt and another friend decided to knock on doors around town and in his apartment complex and offer to do odd jobs. One of the doors he knocked on was the apartment of Joshua Hearne.
“Hey, do you have anything that needs to be moved?”
Josh politely declined, but then Matt invited Josh to a Bible study on Thursday at his apartment. Josh decided to give it a try, hoping to make some new friends discuss the Bible with people of different experiences. The group began with five people, meeting on Thursday to read and discuss the Bible or other spiritual books. We shared our stories with one another, and continued to invite others to join the study.
No one expected what would happen next.
From Book Study to Community
Moved by the Spirit and inspired by the book Crazy Love by Francis Chan, the group soon began eating together every week and committed to pray and serve together. As we continued to feel the call to do something downtown, we sought out mission and service projects downtown, including delivering dinners to the homeless shelter and cooking hot dogs and playing games with kids in a local park. We also began meeting for prayers on Sunday evening in addition to the Thursday Bible study.
Still we felt called to more. In the fall of 2010, we made the decision to move to downtown and convert the Bible study community to a non-traditional, neo-monastic community. We wanted to be invested in the community, and we knew that this was only possible by living in that community, so some of us have committed to moving our residences downtown, where we will be near others of us who already live there. Together, we continue to meet, eat, study, pray, worship, and serve with each other and anyone else who would like to be a part of this community.
Who We Are Today
Grace and Main Fellowship is a non-traditional Christian community committed to worship, community, and service in downtown Danville, Virginia.
We are a non-traditional community: We don’t have a church building, and we don’t share a denominational affiliation. Rather, we are a diverse group that meets together to pray and worship. Some of our friends are members of other churches, some are not. Typically we meet in someone’s house, though we’ve been known to relocate to the park, a restaurant, or any other space that suits our purpose for an evening.
We are an alternative community: We don’t see ourselves as “the right way” or “the only way” to do church. We believe that there are many ways to worship and serve God. In fact, many of our members are also members of more traditional churches. We would simply like to offer another way, alternative way, to be a part of the Kingdom of God. For some, this will be the best way to encounter God. For others, this may be a way to enrich their relationship with Jesus and to grow in their discipleship.
We are a neo-monastic community: We believe that the others in our community are the tools by which the Spirit forms us for the Kingdom. We strive together, through regular prayer, worship, and the practice of various spiritual disciplines, to experience and share the love of God. We are not focused on making members so much as we are on making disciples, and we understand ourselves as a place where people might come, short- or long-term, to grow in their discipleship. Our hope is that we can offer spiritual direction that some will take back to their own congregations while others (those who may not have another place) will continue to strive with us to make disciples in our community.
We are a missional community: We understand our Christian life to be a life of service, and so are committed to serving the people of downtown Danville in whatever way the Spirit may lead. We believe that the Church’s service is what makes the Church the Church. We solicit donations of money, resources, labor, and time to help us serve the downtown community. All donations that come in to Grace and Main, including tithes from some of our attendees, go directly to serving the downtown community through one of our three focal points: Worship, Community, and Service. Because of this missional commitment, we don’t do “drive-by-charity” or any other form of unengaged or non-relational care—instead, we build friendships and relationships and strive to be holistic in our service to downtown Danville.
We are an intentional community: We are a community “on purpose.” We pray for guidance from the Spirit, then we plan and carry out the daily, weekly, and monthly habits that create relationships, fellowship, and community. We believe that community can happen by accident, but we also know that it can happen though the intentions of people who seek God’s face together. Therefore, we have chosen a place where we would like to build community and share grace, and we are actively and intentionally working there to advance the Kingdom of God.
– What We Do –
Grace and Main is much more interested in making disciples than in making members. In fact, many of the people who attend our services, events, and celebrations are already members of other congregations—we don’t have a problem with that, in fact we celebrate that they’ve found a congregation in which they feel comfortable. What we hope is that members of other congregations that join in with what we’re doing will find us helpful on their path to becoming a disciple of Jesus Christ—that they will become disciples, even if they don’t become members.
In short, we take discipleship very seriously at Grace and Main and we don’t think it happens by accident.
Instead, we think that discipleship is an intentional process of formation that converts us from who we are to who God wants us to be. We believe that this process is a lifelong adventure and requires three different types of experiences: worship, community, and service. It is our goal to offer these three types of experiences to everybody who comes through Grace and Main—whether it be for a few days or for years. In fact, everything that Grace and Main does falls into one of these three categories. If it doesn’t, then we don’t do it.
We believe that when people devote themselves to worship, community, and service, then what they are truly doing is becoming disciples of Jesus Christ.
At its most basic, Christian worship is encountering and interacting with God on some level—it is proclaiming God worthy by our words, actions, movements, and thoughts. Grace and Main offers a variety of worship experiences from week to week for anybody and everybody. Every Sunday evening at 6:30 p.m., we meet to worship in one of our homes. Our worship is simple and thoughtful—a style of worship sometimes referred to as “contemplative”—and open to anyone who hopes to encounter the God who speaks with the “still small voice.” Typically, it lasts anywhere from 40 to 90 minutes, depending on how the Spirit moves and how people are feeling and responding. We wear whatever is comfortable and nobody should ever feel underdressed at our gathering. This isn’t your typical worship service, but we are careful to walk everybody through everything we’re doing—so don’t feel like you need to know or do anything special to attend.
In addition, some of our people choose to “pray the Office” each day of the year as an act of worship and devotion. We do this in our own homes as part of our daily routine and we invite others to join with us in daily encountering God. There are many books that can teach you how to pray in this way and how to worship through it. Currently, many of us are using Common Prayer: A Liturgy for Ordinary Radicals by Shane Claiborne, Jonathan Wilson-Hartgrove, and Enuma Okoro. If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to ask.
Sometimes, in the Church, it seems we have forgotten how much time in the Gospels Jesus spent making friends, attending parties, celebrating good news, and eating meals with those he loved. In John 13, Jesus says, “By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” Consequently, we want to be a people who practice such disciplines as hospitality and generosity.
We truly believe that spending time with people, making friends, throwing parties, and offering grace and hospitality to one another is God’s work and advances the Kingdom of God.
To that end, we have a dinner every Thursday night at 6:00 p.m. in one of our homes. Anybody is welcome to attend and join in the celebration of another week gone by with people who are always looking to make another friend. Our people gather around this table and break bread as Jesus taught us to do at the Last Supper before digging into a great meal. After the meal is finished and we’ve cleared the plates, we pass a cup of juice as the early Church did in memory of our Lord Jesus. You’re welcome at the table—don’t feel like you have to bring anything, but you’re welcome to do so if it would make you feel more comfortable. Just email us if you have any questions.
After dinner, we move from the dining room to the family room for our weekly discussion time. Sometimes, it’s a Bible study, sometimes we read a book together, and sometimes we play games or just talk about life.
It’s an open discussion and not a lecture or a class—we’re interested in asking hard questions but not in giving easy answers.
In addition, we throw parties fairly regularly but not on a schedule. Check our calendar to see if one is coming up and then make plans to come, even if all we’re doing is going out to dinner, or to see a movie, or to play some board games, or to hang out over coffee. Feel free to email or call with any questions or to let us know you’re coming.
Grace and Main is focused on doing ministry in downtown Danville, Virginia. In fact, 100% of the money that comes into Grace and Main goes directly into ministry downtown—not one penny goes to buildings, salaries, or personal gains. Specifically, we’re interested in confronting poverty in Danville, no matter what disguise it wears.
We believe that poverty is, at its most basic, any lack that somebody experiences that has a negative impact on who they are and who they’re becoming. Poverty of material resources or money is a significant poverty that we oppose in Danville, but it’s not the only one. Some people experience social poverty (lacking social interaction), while others might experience emotional poverty (lack of an emotional support system) or spiritual poverty (lack of spiritual formation and growth.)
Everybody is poor in some way, and we’re trying to do something about it. So, how are you poor?
You can see some of our upcoming projects (and items that we need to make them happen) on our “Our Needs” page and see some of the local ministry organizations that we support on our “People We Like” page. We invite people from all over the region, state, and nation to take part in what we’re doing and to join us in our ministry projects. After all, we’re all members of the same Kingdom.