Helping The Church Be The Church: Reflections on New Monasticism
Monasticism is about embracing the life of God. For some monastics this has meant a life of solitude; for many it is about true community (as opposed to surface level, transactional relationships). One contemporary leader of a monastic movement said, “Monasticism, I learned, isn’t about achieving some sort of individual or communal piety. Its about helping the church be the church.”
I describe our approach to church planting – which is focused on living the Way of Jesus and cultivating relationships in our neighborhoods, work places and coffee shops rather than on mass invitations to an event – as missional monasticism. (maybe that’s a post I should write as well…)
A respected teacher and theologian, deeply invested in issues of justice for the oppressed recently asked me, “What does the ‘new monastic’ movement really have to offer the Church that is substantially different?”
So, that has become a guiding question in my studies at Perkins this semester. During the course of seven brief interactions with different texts, I’ll begin to anticipate how the authors of these books would respond to that very issue. Specifically, I plan to consider three primary questions. The first couple pages will review the book’s central offering to: 1) the development of new monastic communities and participants and 2) the planting and cultivation of missional-monastic communities among primarily non-Christians and new Christians.
The final section of each paper will then be dedicated to the contribution of these communities and the book influencing them to 3) the established church which wants to effectively function as the body of Christ beyond the Sunday morning worship event.
Obviously, essays of this length cannot hope to fully explore these questions; they will rather serve as springboards for further consideration, conversation and experimentation “in the field.” I’m posting rough drafts here on the blog and would love feedback. Again, this is meant to start conversations not provide a definitive response. If what you read raises questions – ask them! I’d love to have some dialog here that will benefit the refining process for this project.