Funny, hearing Protestants talking about monasteries, orders, vows, pilgrimages. But not everyone is happy about it. There is a huge wave of emerging church criticism that is currently washing over the global efforts of young people attempting to live out the life of Jesus in a world both strangely new and strangely familiar. Part of that criticism is targeted at our rethinking of monasticism after its downgrading in protestant circles in the past few hundred years.
Last month I was with a large number of emerging church trainers and practitioners at Fuller Seminary at an Allelon sponsored consultation. The word "monastery" came up a lot, and a number of the people there, especially (Abbess) Rachelle Mee Chapman and Karen Ward, were already describing their ministries in monastic terms. Kevin Rains has also gone that direction, and Tom Sine, of course, who has been trying to kick off his Celtic monastery on an island in the Puget Sound. And you know that I have been kicking around some neo-Celtic models since 1997.
Steve Taylor from New Zealand was also there - I had previously discussed him in my post postmodern monasteries and the excellent paper on his blog. His recent book "Out Of Bounds Church" has a good prescription for new media monasteries.
At the conclusion of the 3 day gathering, Alan Roxburgh summed up much of the conversation by suggesting some kind of order, or at least a common code that would allow a training connection between the various "Abbots" and "Monasteries". Yes, he really said that.
For those that want to track the progress of a recent emerging movement, 24-7 Prayer is a good case study. They have given a lot of prayer and thought to choosing a monastic model for church rather than the typical ecclesiastic model - although there are both flavors in the mix. I have been privileged to have helped in that thinking year by year as we meet and think through these things, including the question: How does a group of emerging young people go from a 18th Century Vow to a 21st Century Vow without being faddish?
In 2002 I mentioned Vineyard's 10 Vows, which later influenced other groups, including 24-7 Prayer and their Boiler Rooms called 'Millenium 3 Monasteries.' Andy Freeman, who leads the Boiler Rooms, wrote Monasticism: what why when and Pete Grieg posted The ABCs of Rules of Life. I mentioned in The Skinny on 24-7 Prayer the connection between Count Zinzindorf and the Order of the Mustard Seed, which came to a grueling climax at my night of absolute terror in which I ACTUALLY TOOK THE VOW, along with Pete Grieg, Floyd McClung and others. The official story is at the Order of the Mustard Seed.
Also, read what blogger Alan Creech is up to.