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New Monasticism and the Community of Transfiguration

Posted on July 9th, 2008

I just finished reading Community of the Transfiguration: The Journey of a New Monastic Community by Paul Dekar. It is the story of a 25 year journey of a small, missional, evanglical Baptist church in Australia moving from a church to a community to a monastery within their denomination! Can you imagine an intentional monastic community within an evangelical denomination today in North America? Paul Dekar, the author, is a professor at Memphis Theological Seminary. He presents a strong argument in his opening chapter that every 400 years in the West there is an upsurge in monastacism, and we are now living in the beginning of such an new movement. What makes this unique, in his opinion, is that it seems to be emerging within Protestantism and not Catholicism or the Orthodox church. I am not sure about these trends of church history, but I am sure that something radical is desperately needed and that monastacism holds a key for us as evangelicals today. What will it be? What might this look like? This Australian model is worth a read and ponder before God. A “new monastacism” or “neomonasticism” that is countercultural and prophetic is the kind of drastic antidote needed, I believe, as we enter the 21st century in the Western church. How else are we going to counter the consumerism, greed, moral fragmentation, fierce individualism and hedonism which fills our churches?  For now I am increasingly (as is Geri) drawn to the “desert: (in my case it is more like Jones Beach about 30 min.away) for silence as I  pastor and lead NLF. I sense a deep compulsion I cannot shake. I know God is calling us at NLF to remain a local church that is clearly missional, but a mission that flows from a people who have broken from the world and integrated a rhythm of prayer, study, work and rest within their jobs and families – almost like oblates attached to a Benedictine monastery. Is it possible to do this with a 1000 people in the inner city of NYC without laying a heavy yoke on people while remaining a local intergenerational church with a strong ecclesiology? I am not sure. I have lots of questions, but I know the direction is right.  What do you think of an evangelical, neomonastic, local church for our day?

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