Category Archives: New Monasticism

25 SIMPLE WAYS TO BE MISSIONAL IN YOUR NEIGHBORHOOD

I came across this list through Missional Wisdom Foundation, and thought it was worth sharing Perhaps the 4th of July weekend could be a good time to try one of them.

25 SIMPLE WAYS TO BE MISSIONAL IN YOUR NEIGHBORHOOD

by Josh Reeves

I have found that it is often helpful to have practical ideas to start engaging the people around me. Most of the things on this list are normal, everyday things that many people are already doing. The hope is that we would do these things with Gospel intentionality. This means we do them:

  • In the normal rhythms of life pursuing to meet and engage new people
  • Prayerfully watching and listening to the Holy Spirit to discern where God is working.
  • Looking to boldly, humbly, and contextually proclaim the Gospel in word and deed.

 

1. Stay outside in the front yard longer while watering the yard

2. Walk your dog regularly around the same time in your neighborhood

3. Sit on the front porch and letting kids play in the front yard

4. Pass out baked goods (fresh bread, cookies, brownies, etc.)

5. Invite neighbors over for dinner

6. Attend and participate in HOA functions

7. Attend the parties invited to by neighbors

8. Do a food drive or coat drive in winter and get neighbors involved

9. Have a game night (yard games outside, or board games inside)

10. Art swap night – bring out what you’re tired of and trade with neighbors

11. Grow a garden and give out extra produce to neighbors

12. Have an Easter egg hunt on your block and invite neighbors use their front yards

13. Start a weekly open meal night in your home

14. Do a summer BBQ every Friday night and invite others to contribute

15. Create a block/ street email and phone contact list for safety

16. Host a sports game watching party

17. Host a coffee and dessert night

18. Organize and host a ladies artistic creation night

19. Organize a tasting tour on your street (everyone sets up food and table on front porch)

20. Host a movie night and discussion afterwards

21. Start a walking/running group in the neighborhood

22. Start hosting a play date weekly for other stay at home parents

23. Organize a carpool for your neighborhood to help save gas

24. Volunteer to coach a local little league sports team

25. Have a front yard ice cream party in the summer

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Filed under Christian Living, Missional Living, New Monasticism, Outreach

Contemplation and Silence

Sketch by myself with effects applied.

Self Drawing

The fact remains that contemplation will not be given to those who willfully remain at a distance from God, who confine their interior life to a few exercises of piety and a few external acts of worship and service performed as a matter of duty. Such people are careful to avoid sin. They respect God as master. But their heart does not belong to Him.

——-Thomas Merton “What is Contemplation?”

 

Those words written by Merton over sixty years ago still resonate for Christians in our diverse and increasingly secularized world. Surprisingly, Merton’s little book was written to lead young men as they sought to be formed as Trappist monks. The twenty first century is bringing a great cry for a deepening spirituality from all areas of society. The New Monastic movement, and interest in all forms of spirituality are on the rise. A real sense of lostness, uncertainty, and fear is gripping our world. Merton cuts to the heart of the problem. Mere personal piety, no matter how sincere, will not bring us to a heart union with God.

Let me suggest a simple spirituality that is based on contemplative prayer that allows God to enter into our lives in times of quiet stillness. This is an offering of ourselves to God without expectation or certainty. It is a call to embrace the mystery of God as a journey to the unknown. Such a journey cannot be measured by acts of piety, times of worship, but in the giving of ourselves to a God we cannot fully understand. Such acts of trust allow God to be the transforming factor of our lives.

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Filed under Contemplation, Faith, New Monasticism, Prayer, Thomas Merton

A Rule for Missional People

This past weekend I had the pleasure of sitting under the teaching of Dr. Elaine Heath, who is Professor of Evangelism at Perkins School of Theology. Her topic was “New Monasticism.” She shared ways that people can band together in intentional communities, and what it would take for that to be successful. Elaine, with a group of others, has formed the institute for Missional Wisdom. This institute has proposed a “Rule of Life” for those who want to commit to living in community. I would like to set forth this rule as not only a way to live in community, but also a way for individuals to live a Christ centered life. I want to share it with you today.

RULE OF LIFE

Our Rule of Life is based Wesley’s General Rules, the membership vows of the United Methodist Church and St. Benedict’s Rule. We believe this rule opens our eyes to God’s grace, balances life and enables us to pursue holiness in all aspects of daily living.

OUR RULE OF LIFE

PRAYERS

  • We will pray daily
  • We will use a variety of forms of prayer such as the reflective reading of Scripture and other spiritual texts, confession, the prayer of Examen, intercession, journaling, and contemplation.
  • We will fast from food once a week (either a full or partial fast)

PRESENCE

  • We will practice a contemplative stance in order to be present to God, the world, and ourselves
  • We will be hospitable to our neighbors in our families, neighborhoods and workplaces
  • We will be hospitable to our faith community through participation in our worship, fellowship and mission

GIFTS

  • We will honor and care for the gift of the earth and its resources, practicing ecologically responsible living, striving for simplicity rather than excessive consumption
  • We will practice generosity in sharing our material resources, including money, within and beyond this community

SERVICE

  • We will serve God and neighbor out of gratitude for the love of God
  • We will practice mutual accountability with a covenant group within the community, for how we serve God and neighbor
  • We will practice regular Sabbath as a means of renewal so that we can lovingly serve God and neighbor

WITNESS

  • We will practice racial and gender reconciliation
  • We will resist evil and injustice
  • We will pursue peace with justice
  • We will share the redeeming, healing, creative love of God in word, deed and presence as an invitation to others to experience the transforming love of God.

I commit to this rule of life and to the well-being of this community, out of gratitude to God who forgives, heals, and makes all things new. May my life be a blessing within and beyond God’s church, for the transformation of the  world.

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Filed under Benedictine Rule, Christian Living, Commitment, Community, contemplative, Intentional community, Missional Living, Monasticism, New Monasticism

The Ear of Your Heart

English: Retreat at Monastery of the Holy Spirit

The Rule of St. Benedict begins with the following statement: “Listen carefully, my son, to the master’s instructions, and attend to them with the ear of your heart.” Though Benedict wrote his rule for monks, it can easily be applied to all Christians. Today’s society cries out for a rule, a guide, or just something to help us cobble together some meaning and order in our lives. In the day of New Monasticism, perhaps it is a good time to look at the basic structure of “old monasticism.”

Benedict gives us two very key concepts in his opening statement, the concepts of listening and listening with the ear of your heart. The first is listening – listening in such a way that we truly hear. Our buzz phrase is multi-tasking. In this multi-society, the very idea of giving anything your undivided attention seems to be outlandish. Benedict, on the other hand, calls on the monks to listen to the instructions.  Not only to listen, but to do so with all that we possess.

The type of listening that would serve the monks, and the ordinary Christian as well, is one that seeks the words of a master. Our real challenge is to let go of our egos and seek the master. We can very easily call Jesus our master, but we need a companion or a guide to help us to better understand our Lord. Throughout history men and women have gathered together in churches and other places dedicated to understanding our creator. In these places people have argued, disputed, and parted company to find meaning and truth. Benedict challenges us to listen, and with listening, God will speak.

We hear God with the ear of the heart. Over the years we have heard all sorts of things, some enlightening, others ridiculous, and all claiming to be the message of God. The ear of the heart is the listening given to us by the Holy Spirit. Jesus promised not to leave His disciples orphaned, but to send an advocate to be with them. That advocate is the Spirit of God that lives within us. By attuning our ear to the Spirit we can listen and hear His instructions. At church, at work, at home, listen with the ear of your heart and God will pour out His blessings to you and fill your life with praise.

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Filed under Benedict of Nursia, Christian Living, Monasticism, New Monasticism

New Monasticism

English: Shane Claiborne meets with Ron Copela...

 Shane Claiborne meets with Ron Copeland and Brian Farrell at Our Community Place

I guess it’s time to join my voice to the throngs of bloggers that are addressing the topic of New Monasticism. At its very essence it is a yearning for a simple life that is dedicated to searching for a deep relationship with God. The young people who began this movement felt as though the church and its institutions had abandoned large numbers of people, especially the poor and oppressed. To them, as the desert fathers before them, the answer was to go to these abandoned places and discover the mission of God. In such places, where poverty and crime are rampant, the heart of what it means to share Christ becomes evident.

New Monastics live in communities and have a sense of obligation to make their neighborhoods better places to live and work. They minister to those who have been forgotten and abandoned. Their driving force is to be the hands and voice of Jesus in forgotten places. To accomplish this, these communities live in much the same way as the “old monastics,” sharing lodging, eating common meals, observing times of prayer, and seeking God in their midst.

I had the opportunity to visit one of the most widely known of these communities, The Simple Way, in Philadelphia. The purpose of my visit was to participate in “The School for Conversion,” which means spending an extended weekend observing and participating in the activities of the community. As I toured their neighborhood I met some very humble people, learned how veggie diesel was made, and was introduced to the Urban Chicken movement (I now have chickens). I found my time to be very informative and my discussions with Shane Claiborne, the co-founder of Simple Way, a source of soul searching.

As a third order Benedictine, my goal in life has been to incorporate monastic practices into my daily walk. I am very heartened by the New Monastic movement and its attempt to call us to a more simple and basic way of life. Indeed, our world has become much too complicated and expensive, and for those reasons and others, the ones who most need the love and care of Christianity are left behind

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Filed under Christian Living, Commitment, Community, Missional Living, Monasticism, New Monasticism, Shane Claiborne