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Bryn Jones Was One of My Influences

I only sat down and talked with Bryn Jones once but I owe the man much as do many Christians today.

Fresh out of University in the ‘80s I remember reading Restoration Magazine – a Christian publication Bryn had founded. Bryn among others contributed to this magazine that taught the various emphasise of what some called the house church movement. This included such topics as the kingdom of God as a present reality and not just a future hope, that as Christians we are in covenant with God and with each other and the role of Ephesians 4 ministries. I was looking for a place to do my postgraduate studies in computing at the time. I was so struck by what I read that I decided to choose Bradford where the magazine was published, determined to learn more.

On my arrival I promptly found Bryn’s church – Church House Christian Fellowship. A decade earlier Bryn had brought together three Bradford churches. The merged church purchased and refurbished the old Church House building of the local diocese (pictured below) from which the church took its name.

Bryn had a great heart for social justice which came over in his preaching. He was studying a Masters in Peace Studies and I would occasionally see him in the corridors of Bradford University. But it was with David Matthew, then the editor of Restoration Magazine, that I quickly developed a good friendship. David had previously been one of the elders in the church and founded a Bible college that trained up the new leaders of the movement. I learnt a lot from the teaching of the church with Bryn Jones and others speaking each Sunday. I also learnt a lot chatting with Dave over curries or relaxing on a beanbag sipping herbal teas.

Bryn believed in restoration not renewal

Church House, Bradford - photo by Tim Green aka atoach

Many charismatics looked to God to renew their denominations. Spirit filled Christians may have felt that they had more in common with each other than with non-charismatics in their own churches. However they were often encouraged by charismatic leaders to stay in their churches and pray for change.

Bryn Jones’ view was very different. He believed in churches starting from scratch – built on New Testament lines free of denominational traditions. Not that the New Testament churches were perfect. He wanted to restore all that was in his heart for the church from the beginning. Bryn’s desire was not to start a new denomination. He saw what he was building as an organic network of churches with a fluid structure. This is what he believed church should be like.

Bryn Jones was a modern day apostle

Another controversial point was that Bryn was recognised as an apostle. He worked with others in an apostolic team made up of ministries outlined in Ephesians 4:11 – apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors and teachers. From what I understand the team had grown out of a group that had met in the home of a much respected Bible teacher Arthur Wallis.

Bryn Jones had also worked alongside others such as Terry Virgo – who went on to form his own very successful apostolic team New Frontiers – and David Tomlinson who is now a prominent voice in the Emerging Church. By the time I arrived in Bradford these men had left the scene but Bryn’s younger brother Keri Jones who was also recognised as an apostle and was one of the many visiting speakers at Church House.

The line up of Bryn Jones’ team was constantly changing and even David Matthew was sometimes uncertain as to whether he was official on the team but he was never bothered by that. The whole thing was based on relationship.

Bryn Jones’ continued influence

I had only been at Bradford two or three years when things began to change. The church moved into new premises and became known as Abundant Life Church with Paul Scanlon taking the lead. Bryn announced that he and his team Covenant Ministries were moving to the Midlands to be based at Nettle Hill in Coventry. The college that David Matthew had established Covenant College was moving there too.

I responded to a call to move to the Midlands to support one of the new churches there. After being in Bradford for only four years I moved to Birmingham. And I am still here in the same church to this day – though we have seen some changes. After being released by Bryn we linked up with Alan Scotland whom Bryn Jones earlier had recognised as an apostle. Alan, in a similar way to Terry Virgo, sees his apostolic role as more advisory than Bryn did, facilitating the work of local churches.

David Matthew also moved to the Midlands but lived in Leicester while working at Nettle Hill editing the college’s distance learning Modular Training Programme, which I went on to study. David is a good friend and we still keep in contact. When he felt that his time with Bryn had come to a natural end David returned to Yorkshire.

Bryn Jones’ legacy

I was sad to hear of Bryn’s death in 2003. He was a great man who pioneered God’s purposes in a way that few do. Yes, looking back I would say there were mistakes along the way and people got hurt. In trying to restore an understanding of leadership and authority there were some inevitable abuses. But we must never forget that Bryn taught us so much about apostolic ministry, the kingdom of God and restoring God’s simple organic pattern to church life built on relationships. Many of these ideas have been embraced in other churches today – not just house churches. I’m grateful to have met this man and to have been influenced by him.

Related Post: An Evening With A Real Live Apostle
Further Reading: Restoration History by David Matthew
You can buy Restoration Magazine on CD here.

September 14, 2011 at 6:00 pm
1 comment »
  • December 4, 2011 at 11:11 amJim Babyar

    I looked up Bryn Jones on the internet tonight and read this post. I’d like to say that I loved Bryn very much. I didn’t know that he died. I live near Chicago. In 1973 we held hands and prayed fervently for my brother Mike who lay dying .. in an encephilitis induced coma). (Doctors said that in the unlikely event that Mike lived, he would only exist in a “vegetative state”. As we prayed, the power of God suddenly surged thru Bryn’s hands and jolted both of us. At that moment we KNEW God was healing my brother .. and claimed it. With renewed faith I “held fast (our) confession of faith”, the verse the Lord gave us. About 24 hours later Mike began coming out of the coma, even asking for something to eat. He was walking a few days later and even went home one week later. It took a few months to get all of his strength back, but he was 100% well, mentally and physically. Praise Jesus forever!

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