Another question regarding monasteries caused me to write up some more thoughts.
Gary Q: I was intrigued by your idea of a modern day monastery, like the boiler room and 24:7 movement. Have you written anything on this?
A: Hi Gary. Nice to meet you in London earlier this month. Wish we could have had time for curry and a chat.
I blogged about this on my previous TallSkinnyKiwi blogsite, but let me restate what I said and bring it up to date, especially since as we speak, an “urban monastery” (Brad’s definition) is going up in Austin.
The idea of a monastic model of church instead of an eccelsiastic model is something that is given serious consideration by the next generation of people creating new church structures. A monastic model (intentional, residential community for the purpose of mission, church, training, sending, counseling, etc) has actually been in existence through most of the church’s history. Obviously, the Roman Catholic Church has allowed monastic orders to emerge and some of the best things they have ever done has been through these orders.
In fact, for 1500 years, almost anything good that was done by the global church(Catholic/Protestant/Whatever) was done through monks.
The early Celtic church is a great example of monastic and ecclesiastic models working together. In the case of the Celtic church, the monasteries were the primary structure (modality in mission-speak) and the small cells or churches that they spun off were the secondary (sodality) structures. This was reversed in previous times, with prominence given to the Ecclesiastic (gathering) structure as what we define as “church” and secondary status assigned to monastic structures which, in the evangelical/protestant world, were the seminaries, “parachurch” organizations, missions agencies, outreach centers, etc.
BUT NOW . . .
Many young people are giving prominence to monastic models as a viable alternative to ecclesiastic models.
– I was involved in starting “The Celtic House” in San Francisco, back in 1997, which was a neo-Celtic urban monastical experiment.
– 24-7 Prayer in England have started 2 such structures that they call “Boiler Rooms“. Pete Grieg told me that he would like to see 50 of these around the world, as well as a roundtable to gather some people thinking about this issue.
– A monastic structure,as I mentioned earlier, is being started in Austin and is embraced by the BGCT.
– I have talked to YWAM leaders about a transition from Mission Team to Monastery. We are still waiting to see them produce a model that works but I feel in a few years time, it will be quite normal for them. OM also in about 5 years.
– I have been to visit some well known existing models around the world to see how the previous generation did it. I visited JesusPeopleUSA in Chicago, who already have a working model of intentional community and mission. I have been to L’Abri in Switzerland and Boston, Hernhutt in Germany, and have met with Innerchange people in San Francisco, who are basically an evangelical order from an excellent mission called Church Resource Ministries.
– I have visited with some monastic movements that either are embraced by the Vineyard (Cincinatti, Ohio) or were once embraced by Vineyard (Prodigal Project in Leggett, Ca) and a lot of “Christian Houses” and “Communities” that fit the description, only their own vocabulary has not yet caught up with their practise.
When I consult with mission organizations and denominations about starting new works in large alternative cities, I often recommend begining with an monastic model – a house of prayer, a small community of people who can live in the downtown (or red-light district) and learn to love the city, embrace the people, pray for God to turn up, and send helpers, and figure out how God wants to bless the city. Often the first people to step into God’s plan in a city have addictions or serious hangups and a live-in environement like a monastery is better equipped for discipleship that a once a week program offered by the churches.
Monastic structures will be an accepted form of church in the emerging culture. Mark my words!
I appreciate the writings of Patrick Johnstone in “The Church is Bigger Than You Think” – He claims that the church has always existed in these two forms as well as an addition “apostolic” or “sending” model, ie, church as a mobile band of believers on mission.