Heinrich, a new believer, has discovered that he goes deepest in his relationship with God through the classic spiritual disciplines of reflective prayer and Scripture prayer (an ancient practice from desert spirituality of listening and praying the Scripture). He is delighted to have found a church that champions these practices.
Vusi used to think that he’d feel closer to Jesus by “burning out” rather than “rusting out.” Sadly, he did burn out through a sequence he describes today as being glad, sad and finally mad. Then he found the Wholeness Center at what became his new church. Through it, he’s received spiritual direction and found much more balance in his Christian walk.
Adri has learned that she goes further in her faith by serving the needs of the world around her. One day she volunteered at her church’s community center, discovering that for many children, the food she helped distribute was their only meal for the day. One child begged her for another plate so her parents could eat as well. Adri is so thankful to have found a church that makes remembering the poor (Gal. 2:10) such a big priority.
Considering this, how could all three of these people be attending the same church?
Indeed, people like Heinrich, Vusi and Adri can all be found at Mosaïek, located in a suburb of Johannesburg, South Africa.
“The whole of our history as a church has been to ask, ‘How do we go deeper in our relationship with God, closer in our relationship with each other, and further with hope into our world?’” explains Jacques Bornman, one of the pastors and head of the church’s Wholeness Center. “We continually invite people into these three movements. We also ask, ‘How do we integrate these three streams?’”
Mosaïek Church, led by Founding Pastor Johan Geyser, represents an unusual blend of contemplative practices and Reformed theology.
“The name Mosaïek [Mosaic] is a metaphor [for the collection of seemingly disparate practices],” Bornman says. “Everything we as a church offer is a front door to a relationship with God.”
The ecumenical approach of blending contemplative and Reformed practices is not as novel as it might sound. This framework helps the congregation better wait before and listen to the Father, better walk as Jesus walked, and better impact the world through the power of the Holy Spirit.
For instance, sometimes the worship is low-key, with chanting of worship songs or sitting in candlelight in the presence and peace of God.
“Contemplative practices are desirable because of the high levels of anxiety in today’s society,” says Hermann DuPlessis, who was on Mosaïek’s senior leadership team until 2020. “Mosaïek is a trendsetting church, the only community I know of that integrates the Trinity into its spirituality in a healthy way. These practices lead to more complete and whole disciples.”
As such, “Mosaïek has been a model church for many Afrikaans churches in South Africa,” he says.
Mosaïek’s approach has proved successful in helping a wide range of people to grow spiritually, from newcomers investigating the faith to long-term believers.
“There are many ways of drinking from the stream of the Mosaïek way of life,” says Melissa van Biljon, one of the teaching pastors at the church. “We’re very formational as a church, and finding a way of life with Jesus is at the heart of our teaching.”
The church’s spiritual practices are anything but superficial. For example, Mosaïek’s School of Prayer supports people to pray daily with the Scriptures, to pray with others weekly, to be spiritually guided monthly, and to go on retreat annually. These goals are fleshed out in Praxis, a meeting to teach others to pray together with Scripture meditation, prayer songs, silence and the Lord’s Supper. Further, groups usually meet weekly to grow in prayer together.
Spiritual direction occurs through one-on-one conversations between a guide and the person being guided. Finally, A Week of Guided Prayer is a retreat in daily life, offered four times a year. Participants are invited to devote 30 minutes daily to solitude and prayer, and then have a daily conversation about their experience with a prayer guide. The prayer guide listens with the participant to God’s operation in their prayer, and based on that, suggestions are made of Scripture passages and/or prayer practices with which to pray.
“We hope these experiences will draw people in wherever they are in their journey,” van Biljon says.
A Safe Space to Explore
Mosaïek’s main physical structure doesn’t look like your typical church. Its largest building, Mosaïek Teatro, is a multipurpose facility with a large theater rigged for events with top-notch sound and lighting equipment. It’s used during the week for various programs, many of them for the greater community. As a result, lots of Johannesburg’s residents have come to an event, and don’t yet know a church meets there on Sundays. Yet in the middle of the campus, there’s a chapel with all the traditional markings of a cross, prominent Bible, and even icons to help people as they meditate and pray in silence. At Origins, Mosaïek’s retreat center, retreats of different durations are regularly held in a space marked by silence and prayer.
“The spirituality of Mosaïek might be different from the one you grow up with in an Afrikaans culture,” van Biljon says. “For a lot of people, it’s their first time in church, and they find us as a safe place to explore, come and seek, and ask their questions.
“The environment enables us to encourage one-on-one conversations to discern with people: Where are you in your life? What are some of your passions? Let’s discern together what is your best path. Is it a life group? A learning experience? Finding ways to pray?”
“We are always extending an invitation for a next step,” adds Bornman. “There’s also the freedom for a person to say yes or no. It’s an emphasis on personal responsibility. Everything talks about the invitation and a responsibility to take that next step in your relationship with God.”
Johannesburg, South Africa
Founding Pastor: Johan Geyser
Attendance: 3,500 (in person); 4,000 (online); 80,000 (broadcast)