Last week I began our prologue of the 3 Story nature of our vision for Threshold House. This week I continue that thread as I look at the monastic movement (which I believe saved the church and civilization) as an inspiration and model for our ministry.
Isolation is our enemy!
We live in a culture of “aloneness with our phone-ness”, where folks sit in the same room and stare at their devices.
We live in a culture that idealises the ‘self made man’ where folks long, as the poet William Henley writes, to be “Captain of my soul.” Our grandiose attempts at self exaltation and self rule end badly. Ironically self-worship is self-destructive and becomes destructive to all around!
Isolation is our enemy! It is the lonely refuge of the addicted and the comfortable retreat for those who are recovering. I have become convinced that wellness can only really be found in connection with others and most importantly with God. Any effective ministry then must be “we” centred as opposed to “I” centred.
The church had slipped into a malaise. Organised ‘religion’ was not esteemed as it once had been. Emperor Constantine had co-opted the Church, it was no longer the powerful counter-cultural body living out the Beatitudes.
The first reaction was to withdraw. The Desert Fathers and Mothers retreated from the ‘Worldly Church’ and sought renewal in solitude. It is important to note that solitude is not isolation but in a key way, is the antithesis of isolation. These early monks sought vital connection with God! Like all connection with God this movement inevitable lead to connecting with others.
Monastic communities formed. People gathered around a shared ‘rule of life’. They lived and worked and worshipped together. God used this community movement to renew the Church and transform the world.
Too often we seek ‘to recreate the wheel’ when history provides us a splendid examples and templates for today. Across the globe today people are forming into communities centred around God. This movement has been given the title “Neo-Monasticism”, a fresh expression of a timeless way, a move from the “I” of illness to the “We” of wellness.
In such movement there are the core members of a community, but the true impact of the movement comes as this community shares life and hope with the wider community. It is by its very permeability that it is effective.
I write all this to say that we envision our Street Hope project “Threshold House” as just such a neo-monastic community. Those who live in residence will share a common ‘Rule of Life’ but that is only one part! The plan is that many others will join us, that Threshold House will become (like Celtic Monasteries) beehives of activity. That helpers and the helped together will nurture one another and that we may become a transformative community.
People will live with us for 9 – 12 months but we hope they will be part of our community well beyond that as a new cohort begins. People from local churches will be in and out our doors caring for and being cared for.
Please keep Threshold House in your prayers, and if you would like to discuss how you could be a part of our community please be in touch at: firstname.lastname@example.org