I was reading recently about the role the church played throughout the Middle Ages in the formation of law, the development of science, the advent of the University system, the formalization of compassion ministries and orphanages, the propagation of learning and literacy and also the promotion of art and architecture.
Central to much of what the church did wasn’t the cathedral or the regular week to week religious services. Rather, the seemingly dominant feature was the monasteries. It was the places that single people (monks, nuns, friars, priests etc.) gathered, lived, studied and practiced their faith that the innovations and fruit seemed to develop and grow.
I began thinking…
Maybe it’s not the Sunday morning gathering or meeting places that house the greatest potential for change in Bend, Oregon. Maybe it’s the intern houses and other designated places we could establish where singles, college students, interns and the like can gather, live, study and practice their faith that have the greatest potential.
What we need are Antioch Monasteries. We need the places that can become the hub for community, conversation, ideas and art. We need to gather the hot coals together and see what happens…
Churches in America have long taken the analogy of being “A City on a Hill…” as the picture for their future and growth. As a result, they seek to obtain a large plot of land and build a literal city or megaplex for ministry.
I’m not against having our own building, but what if we change the metaphor to that of yeast… What if we sprinkled dozens of little gathering points and residences throughout Bend… What if we developed some modern day monasteries and filled them with college students or artists or church planters or year long interns?? What if we had a bunch of places where we could put combustible elements together and see what new innovations and new opportunities would be ignited??
Maybe the part of Jesus’ ministry that we overlook is that he spent more than one day a week with his disciples. He lived with them and they with each other. Maybe, just maybe, one of the reasons that there is a lack of fire and passion in the belly of the American church is because nobody is living in community? Maybe we need to make some creative uses out of rental houses, lofts and apartments?
Anyway, I’m all for tweaking the monastery idea and seeing what we can come up with!!
Doesn’t that sound exciting?? :)