Your Church's Rule of Life

The ancient-new.

This is an interesting phrase floating around among clergy and church leaders. They are describing the trend or tendency happening in our post-modern world wherein we reach back in Christian history to an ancient practice or spiritual discipline, transporting it into the present where it appears new.

The ancient- new.

One example of the ancient new is the growing trend among churches to articulate their Rule of Life. Ancient monastic communities were often gathered around a Rule of Life, typically defined by the initiator of that community (St. Francis, etc). Their goal was to use the Rule of Life as a tool for disciplining themselves toward being transformed into reflections of Christ. Thus, their Rule of Life was a set of spiritual disciplines, practiced in community, and supported through their covenant with each other.

Now, new monastic-like communities are springing up in many cities around the United States (Rutba House in Durham, Seven in San Francisco, The Simple Way in Philadelphia, etc.). These are communities of mostly younger people who believe the teachings of Jesus and seek to live them out as fully as possible. This organic new monastic movement is fascinating, while serving as a hopeful expressing of God’s Church.

Over the last years, we are discovering that more traditional kinds of churches are resonating with this ancient-new Rule of Life. We are talking about it in our presentations and even in our church consulting, finding disciples in churches are resonating with it. The following are examples from Baptist, Episcopal, and United Methodist churches with whom we have worked in varying ways, who have made a Rule of Life central to their faith community. They are endeavoring to make this Rule of Life their “organizing principal,” if you will.

Church 1 – United Methodist – Rule of Life
Worshiping God weekly
Praying and reading scripture daily
Engaging in a Christian formation-focused small group
Giving generously of my time, talent, and treasure
Sharing my faith story with those ready to hear
Serving vigorously, making a difference in the world

Church 2 – Episcopal – Rule of Life
“Our pathway to a deeper relationship with Christ”
Pray daily
Worship weekly
Read the Bible
Serve others
Share your story
Give freely

Church 3 – Baptist – Living the Disciple Life 2012
Worshipping with other disciples weekly
Engaging in an additional Small Group experience
Helping others connect to God and God’s Church
Praying daily for my spiritual journey and for the spiritual journey of this church
Serving in at least three missional projects or ministries through this church
Growing in my financial giving to God through God’s church

It’s great fun observing these congregations as they design and implement ways form themselves around their Rule of Life. It’s beyond our scope to describe those ways hear, yet we hope this wets your appetite for becoming a congregation who aspires to being transformed by the Spirit of God….and articulates a place for disciples to start and travel together.

Mark Tidsworth
Pinnacle Leadership Associates