To give people the heads up, I will be running two online courses on New Monasticism starting in September, the first I am facilitating on my own which is a 4 week introduction to a more contemplative and missional understanding of New Monastic Community, and the second is a course for people wanting to set up New Monastic Communities which I will be leading with MarK Berry of the Safe Space Community. So see below details for the Intro course and please do send this onto anyone else who may be interested. Intrigued and what to know more about contemplative and missional new monasticism?? Why not try out this short online course I am leading. https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/intro-course-to-new-monastic-missional-communities-by-ian-mobsby-tickets-115539526835
Category Archives: Fresh Expressions
We the Western Missional Church needs to learn from the ways and practices of the persecuted Church of the Middle East
You many not know, but one of the greatest growing Christian contemplative expressions of Church is in Iran and Iraq. They meet to pray, but have no buildings, no visibility, no formalised leaders but are deeply oppressed where their lives are often at threat, and also at risk of rape by the secret police – both the men and the women.
Their model is a radical openness to the Holy Spirit, to be obedient to the Gospels, where there is a deep relational commitment to be brother and sister Christians, but how they wait and hold back and wait for others to ask religious questions. The focus then is on living the Christian faith – discipleship – not evangelistic events or the approaches we use in the west which just don’t work. For them this is high risk, where they have no religious freedom and oppressed by the threatening domination system.
What can we learn from this?
Clearly at the moment we are not persecuted, but I do believe we are struggling in the west with a massive negative stereotype concerning Christianity and the church which is still too connected to establishment and privilege – and culturally is seen and treated in a way that is not far from forms of prejudice that can easily grow into forms of persecution.
The persecution in the persecuted church allow each of the individual to grow spiritually to have the maturity to cope with oppression but open to God doing things and working miracles that comes from prayer and being an underground network family.
In my new context, Christchurch Southwark, we are struggling because the area is I think sanitised by the market society which isolates the rich and dehumanises and marginalises the poor and vulnerable where our worth is measured against economic or commodified value. So the question is how to we relate to this type of society where many are not free and struggling and not open to Christianity, largely because they have never seen it lived. Living it is critical so people can experience Christians and how faith and spirituality has transformed their life. Only by being an example can we be effective with mission and hence Jesus” teachings and the new commandment and the Lord’s Prayer as a way of life. So this is what we need to learn, and we have got lazy in the west, because we don’t have to fight for the right to express our faith. I am struck by the approach in Iran and Iraq and China because they developed a movement, being able to use forms of relational ministry and do food ministry, friendship and soul friends so we put the focus on living it, and learning to live it better together. If you get a chance see the Youtube clips of sheep amongst wolves. It is cheesy in places and some of its theology is not where I am at, yet I believe the focus on living it guided by God builds mature disciples – I think is helping me to think what I need to get going at Christchurch..,..
Prophets, by their very nature, cannot be at the center of any social structure. Rather, they are “on the edge of the inside.”
I have just spent 4 fantastic days at the Hui Mission & Theology Conference hosted by Church Mission Society at Ripon College Cuddesdon Oxford. This was a gathering of practitioners, theologians and educators, and it was a wonderful opportunity for mutual learning and encouragement.
Personally, it was a breath of a fresh air, being amongst people with a similar form of vocation across Europe, and I loved it.
I have been struck by the call for such ministries to be prophetic, and in Richard Rohrs reflections this week, there has been a whole focus on the role of prophets, and the challenge it is for those whose vocation touches this calling and how has it is to be part of any organisational structure. Prophets are called to hack the system for its own flourishing, an important function of both pioneering and fresh expressions of church.
So in this next series of posts, I want to engage with the question ‘why is new monasticism important’? Particularly when thinking about the state of the Church and the World and especially when thinking about Mission and Evangelism.
The greatest problem I think – is that people aren’t really living it and following the Christian faith – in that, we are called to live it out profoundly impacting our daily lives.
I think that in our current post-secular culture we are carrying the consequences of the violence to the faith as a consequence of modernity (period of time after pre-modernity impacting Europe from around the 15th Century onwards) and what has unhelpfully been called the ‘enlightenment’ when everything in culture was defined in relation to ‘truth’ as understood as the scientific method. Here faith then came about ‘thinking’ and ‘reason’ and ‘argument’ so that the more experiential and the essence of Christianity became a way of life modelled on following Jesus went into the background.
So even today – when people come to proclaim faith – or as in the Church of England more likely confirmation – then it is all about what you believe rather than how you live transformed by attempting to follow Jesus.
I think today Christianity has been largely commodified and now becoming or being Christian is relating to attending a worship service once a week and to do some form of 12-week induction course.
This seriously impoverishes the Christian faith and has limited depth. Unsurprisingly people are giving up on this commodified Christianity because it does not deeply resource you in the complexity of the modern world.
Instead what we need are examples of forms of the Christian Community that live out the Christian faith in depth – as a witness to the reality of God. Not because they are in anyway special – but more because real Christianity does not make sense if it is not LIVED.
This is why I believe so strongly in New Monasticism as a model of small missional communities, a form of fresh expression of Church, because it is one of the ways to focus on living the faith – not just talking about it – with a commitment to ‘prayerful or contemplative action’, to live a Rhythm of Life as a Community, where the focus then is on the New Commandment of Jesus – To Live God, learn to love ourselves to be able to love others and our neighbour. It is a form of missional community of ordinary people seeking to live counter-culturally and with a sense that none of life makes any sense if it is not about the context of a life following Jesus.
So my first argument here – is that we need profound Christian communities – living out the faith and not just talking about it – not getting sucked into institutionalised and stale expressions of the Church which have no life and too focused on thinking. And I believe that New Monasticism seeks to be this type of community because mission can’t be about beautiful media with beautiful people with glossy brochures and being cool – it is about the tough call to surrender to God your life, and to seek to follow a rhythm of life of prayer, of service, of study and of action – particularly as Jesus commanded – the poor and the stranger.
So if the Church is going to be effective in mission – we need living examples of doing this well – like Taize, the Northumbria Community and in many ways my own little New Monastic Community – the Wellspring Community in Peckham.
If there are no expressions of communities of deep faith – what then is mission and evangelism for? It can’t perpetuate the lie of a consumptive spiritual individualst journey that is numbing and I think ultimately does not take you to the depth of Jesus – real mission and evangelism has to occur for me on the back of examples of real Christianity being lived out profoundly as an example – to stand up to all the negative steriotypes of the Church, and to be an example of real Christianity in the eyes of some form of Conservative expressions of the Church which seem to have very little to do with Jesus’ example and teachings in the Gospels.
So my great hope is that New Monastic Communities become an example of a depth of Christianity because they are deeply LIVED by people who are less than perfect but yet are committed to the path of following Jesus as they stumble towards salvation rather any sense of earning it…
This is my hope … mission and evangelism make no sense if no one is really living the Christian faith in community by example.
New Book: Doorways to the Sacred, Developing a Sacramentality in Fresh Expressions of Church (Ancient Faith Future Mission Series)
Really pleased to see that this book is now published. This was for both Graham Cray, Phil Potter and I, an extremely important book to get out. It draws on the expereinces of theologians and practitioners, engaging with the really important issue regarding how the sacraments emerge and become central to a Fresh Expression of Church. This is vital to help a missional project become an expression of being Church. Thie book helpfully explores lots of different projects, as well as different sacraments. This was a labour of love, and I hope people enjoy and are inspired by this. To order the book click here
In this podcast Ian Mobsby explores the differences between attractional models of Church with apostolic models and the importance of seeking God through the story and needs of people in the local context. This was recorded at the 4th Anglo-Catholic Symposium on 23rd November 2016 in the Woolwich Episcopal Area of the Diocese of Southwark.
Following the success of the convention weekend, please find below some of the outcomes and resources coming out of the 14-16th October 2016.
Feedback form for those attending the weekend
We are keen to hear your feedback ONLY FROM THOSE WHO ATTENDED, so please do complete the link to let us know what you thought and to help us plan for the next time here
Summary Report from the Facilitators for the questions and issues identified
Please find the link to the report presented on Sunday morning at the convention, which identifies key issues and questions that we in the network need to consider. closingsummaryreport
Results from the completed Questionnaire
The results from the questionnaire completed by attendees of the Convention can be found here.
Address from Phil Potter, Archbishop’s Missioner & Lead for Fresh Expressions & Bp Jonathan Clark, the Bp of Croydon.
Address from Phil Potter, Archbishops Missioner, philpotteraddress and link to Facebook Group that includes Video Recordings from Bp Jonathan Clark, the Facilitators reflections and the prayer and some of the times of prayer and worship sessions here.
Handouts for Stream 2
The link to download the handouts for the three sessions for Saturday in .pdf form click the link here. These are available also for anyone in Stream 1 who may find them helpful
Schedule and Menu for the Gathering/Conference
Please find linked here, a pdf of the current draft plan for the conference with details. We need people to attend all of this to maximise our time together, so click here for the conferencefacilitatorsplan participantlist conferencemenu
Group participation in Streams 1 and 2
For those already involved in NM groups you will be in Steam 1, and we have divided you into 3 dialogue groups A-C. For those who are interested in setting up a NM groups then you will be in Stream 2, and you will be in 6 working groups. Please download the following document for both Stream 1 and Stream 2 and note which room you are in for the Saturday: participantlist
Position Papers for the Conference to read before you come
1. Paper compiled by Ned Lunn (York) anunderstandingofreligiouslife
Papers from Previous Gatherings that are important
1. Renewal of the Religious Life by Etienne Veto, Lambeth Palace Gathering
2. New Monasticism and other new religious movements by Ian Mobsby (St Lukes) Chris Neal (CMS)(1)Acknowledged Religious Communities, Briefing Paper
3. Acknowledgment Process in the CofE
(2)The Advisory Council Acknowledgement Document
Menu for Lunch and Dinner for Fri & Sat
All here: conferencemenu
Relevant Book Resources UK Context
This weekend gathering in Southwark South London from Friday 14 to Sunday 16th October, is the first gathering of those involved in new monastic communities with some relationship to the Anglican and the Church of Scotland – coming from Wales, Scotland, Ireland, USA and England. The event has been facilitated by the working group of the New Monastic Network UK. Over the last couple of years, sponsored by the charitable group Anglican Religous Communities (ARC) have sponsored dialogue between the leaders of emerging and traditional religious communities. It was Archbishop Justin’s Chaplain Jo Bailey-Wells, now the Bishop of Dorking encouraged the need for a gathering for new monastics to talk to new monastics.
So at the weekend 90 representatives will engage in dialogue from communities such as the St Anselm Community in Lambeth Palace, the Iona and Northumbria Communities, as well as those small missional communities such as the St Lukes Community Peckham. Further, a number of people interested in starting new monastic communities will spend some time reflecting on what, how and why this can be done. We are very pleased that Phil Potter, the Archbishop’s Missioner and Leader for Fresh Expressions will be joining us on the Saturday, and Bishop Jonathan Clark, the Bishop of Croydon will be joining us on the Sunday.
This has been a dream coming together, and we look forward to catching up with what God is doing through this first gathering in the UK.
For more information on the New Monasticism Network UK See the Facebook Group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/1420721808180123/
In this podcast Ian Mobsby explores recent research that suggests that anglican catholic ordinands, deacons and priests are loosing the founding vision of this tradition in apostolic mission in the context of the challenge of contemporary 21st-century society. This paper seeks to reconnection confidence in the tradition with radical apostolic mission that is prepared to engage with adequate listening of the context, and the emerging spiritual tribes.
A theological approach to human sexuality to inform the Church in a globalised pluralistic culture of the 21st Century
One of the great problems at the moment, is that the Christian Church has a polarised debate on understanding human sexuality. The Church for centuries has had a dis-ease with the human body as a source of sin and sexual immorality, rather than made in the image of God if we trust the writings of the Hebrew Scriptures of the bible. This problem has largely been the achilles heal of the Church because of the heresy of gnosticism that haunts the church, which saw all flesh as evil, as something we should escape from.
What we need is a better theology of human sexuality, and that there is a difference between sexual identity and sexual behaviour.
I therefore post this important paper which I think gives an important broad background and deals with the contention of the interpretation of certain biblical texts.
The Church needs to stop calling this issues around doctrine and the creeds, or heresy, and engage with the fact that we are taking about issues of biblical interpretation. Then I hope drawing on texts like this we can draw on a sense of unity in diversity rather than the damaging debate where the two sides try to out-bible each other, and can’t accept that maybe we need to get to a place to politely disagree BUT remain brothers and sisters in Christ, therefore a model of the Church to hold into a unity in diversity rather than unity in conformity. See the link below.