This afternoon Pete came round to one of our appartments for a chat, and we heard his story and that of Ikon. Essentially, Pete had been with an evangelical church, gone to uni and done philosophy, become dissatisfied with faith as it was lived out where he was and wanted to do something different. Wanted to create a space where people might discover, might be moved, challenged, transformed. He was in a bar with a friend and the friend said 'do it here - go and ask.' So he did, the manager said you're on in three weeks, people responded positively and they've been going for 5 years.
Ikon happens once a month in the Black Box, around the corner from the historic Duke of York pub in the centre of Belfast (this is where I would drink my first Guinness, later that night). They also have some groups that meet more often - Last Supper is 12 people gathering over a meal to hear an invited person speak and spark conversation, the Omega Course is based on a Living the Questions resource, Saving Jesus, and where the Alpha Course offers an introduction to Christian faith, the Omega Course offers an exit from Christianity that may have become less life giving, and the evangelisers are a group who visit other groups in order to be evangelised, seeking to be changed.
Ikon and associated activities appear to be about challenging our faith, our selves, our ideas. It's about growing, learning, moving. It strikes me as being highly artistic, philosophical, intellectual. It exists within Christianity, but not without it - you won't get to know the Christian narrative necessarily through Ikon, though it draws on that Story, and could perhaps only have been created within a Judeo-Christian framework, as Pete reflected over the weekend. It provides a challenge to that framework, a place to question and critique, to breathe new life in to the wider body of Christ.
Lots of people journey with Ikon for a while, and it is that sort of space intentionally.
A lot of Ikon is 'failure', but when it works it works well. The point is, I think, that they are being bold and courageous and challenging themselves, others, Christian faith. They take risks. They are valued for their contribution to the wider faith community that is Christianity.