Introduction to New Monasticism pt 4

lAbri Liss

The l’Abri community house in England

A couple of years ago I met a group of young people who had been co-housing for around 8 years. It had begun as a group house populated by a group of University students. Most student group houses don’t last beyond a year. But these guys were serious about it. As they continued through their years of study and beyond, they worked out disciplines that made their little community work better:

• Financial disciplines – (to a degree) a common purse
• Shared rhythm of prayer and worship – some private some open
• Patterns of group meals – some private, some open
• Patterns of hospitality

Does that sound familiar ? And as they honed their household life it began to attract others. It attracted young people on the fringe of the church scene and those way beyond it. Young people would seek it out when they needed a place of prayer, sanctuary or pastoral care. Quite organically, their home became a place of ministry. When I met them – about eight years into the experiment – they were just beginning to realise – without any pride about it – that it was through the patterns of their group house that they were seeing the most powerful expressions of pastoral care, hospitality, evangelism, disciple-making and conversion of life. Here was the life and witness of the Body of Christ.

NOTE: They didn’t set out to plant an emerging church or be neo-monastics. All they had done was try and make their household life work in a Christian way. And that was the result.

Co-housing isn’t always about house-sharing. Sometimes it’s about clustered housing. Examples would include:

• Jah Works in Doveton, Victoria
• UNOH in Melbourne
• Peace Tree in WA
• The host community of the Lachlan Macquarie internship in ACT
• The l’Abri communities in Switzerland, Britain and Holland
• Jock Cameron and Tim Pickle led a cluster community in a cul de Sac in Turramurra NSW – which progressively filled up with Christian households. Their detractors called them the “cult de sac”!

IN SUMMARY I have outlined Six Patterns:
•Patterns of Retreating
•A Growth of Associate Structures
•Patterns of Post-Modern reading & Tribes
•A Pattern of Ecclesiology driven by Mission
•A Pattern of reclaiming Christian Heritage
•Patterns of Co-Housing

There is a seventh significant pattern which I shall explore in the next post…