The Common Good

The New Monastic Conspirators

Discover what God is doing through a new generation of risk-takers, innovators, and prophets at The New Conspirators. We have asked these young conspirators, who comprise at least four new streams, to share their stories, dreams, and struggles on Feb. 28-March 1, 2008, in Seattle. These four streams include: the new monasticism, the mosaic (multicultural), the missional, and the emergent. I want to share snapshots of these four streams, starting with the new monastics.

Shane Claiborne will be at our gathering sharing about the new monasticism movement and from his new book, Jesus For President. Over the past two decades, a new Protestant movement very much like the Franciscan order has emerged. Like many in the traditional Franciscan order, they have moved into the poorest urban communities in our world, live in community as families and singles, and care for the poor, often living at the same lifestyle level of the poor around them. A number of them have even developed a rule of life. These include groups like Word Made Flesh, InnerCHANGE, Servant Partners, Servants to Asia's Urban Poor, and Urban Neighbours of Hope (UNOH).


In 2005, a group of several hundred primarily younger people convened in Raleigh-Durham to discuss the need for a New Monasticism movement to more faithfully live out the gospel of Christ in our troubled world. As we met together, I was impressed by the desire of these young people to give more authentic expression to their faith.


Their communities include Rutba House in Raleigh-Durham, North Carolina; Communality in Lexington, Kentucky; Camden House in New Jersey; and the Simple Way in Philadelphia. They are also connected to older intentional Christian communities, including Reba Place in Chicago and the Church of the Sojourners in San Francisco. Together, they have published a book, School(s) for Conversion: Twelve Marks of a New Monasticism, and they run Schools of Conversion for those who want to find their own way forward.


What makes the new monastics distinct from the other four streams is that they have no interest in planting new expressions of church; rather, they are creating new forms of community in which they seek to embody the gospel and reach out to those in need. Shane says, "Our deserts are the inner city and the abandoned places of the empire." This stream offers the most robust critique of modern culture, but also has the strongest voice for social justice and the care of God's creation.


Tom Sine founded Mustard Seed Associates in 1989. He has worked as a consultant in futures research and planning for numerous nonprofit organizations and speaks at gatherings all over the world with his wife, Christine. His newest book, The New Conspirators: Creating the Future One Mustard Seed at a Time, comes out next month.

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