Friday, April 08, 2005


There is some discussion around the emerging church blogosphere about the notion of embracing the patterns and practices that an abbot/abbess of a monastery follows as he/she leads an abbey as a model for pastoring in a missional church.

Much of what Eugene Peterson writes is call to this -- although he does not frame his refections in terms of abboting.

I am wondering if there is a lesson to learn from Eastern Orthodox clergy about this approach. The few Orthodox priests I have met and/or observed seem to have an approach to their ministry that makes them a spiritual director/spiritual father to the folks in their congregations.

I think I would want to explore how spiritual direction/spiritual fathering or mothering could also be diffused throughout the life of a community not only be the purview of clergy -- I am thinking in terms of the practice of soul friendship that seems to have been practiced in the celtic churches of Ireland, Scotland and England back in the 5th to 7th centuries.

Well, I am eagerly awaiting more discussion. Based on Arlen H.'s encouragement I am going to get a copy of the Rule of Saint Benedict and give a look at his guidelines for an abbot,

One place where I think a missional community might want to be different than a monastery is in the degree of authority an abbot has -- an abbot can order monks around. I don't mention that because I think that this is problematic in the context of a monastery. A monastery is the most intentional of intentional communities. Those who join agree to this kind of thing before joining.

I am not sure that missional communities always have to have the same degree of intentionality as a monastery to draw from the resources of monastic life. Perhaps there might be communities within a community that have this level of commitment -- sort of like the ecclesiola en ecclesia of the early pietists. But the things an abbot/abbess gives himself/herself to in terms of daily practices and rhythms seem to be a powerful resource for pastors in the missional church context.

1 comment:

Karl Thienes said...

"throughout the life of a community not only be the purview of clergy..."

Every Orthodox person has a sponsor, a godparent who also is a "spiritual guide" of sorts.