Saturday, March 31, 2012

More Ways Yadda-Yadda Continued

There are some ways of getting more financial support for the community. Depending on the community's interest, you could do anything from brew beer, roast coffee, grow vegetables--whatever. It's really up to the community, and how they could best use their gifts. You may also look into getting grants from Lily and one's ecclesiastical authority.

Alright, another important factor is having a social presence for the community. So, it should be built into the community that they not only work with the church's existing outreach ministries, but also find other places to offer time and help. Obviously the community cannot do everything, but should try to choose which ministries are best suited to the community members (likewise with other social works) and try to do these things as a community. This allows the community to be known as more than a para-church organization, and allows the community a chance to be the Church in an active way.

Finally, if at all possible, the community should try to offer hospitality whenever possible. Whether this is inviting people in the wider community or their parish to meals--or even keeping a retreat room. It is important the the community be outside of the house, but also allow others to come into the community's space.

As to this idea of offering retreat space, some ideas I have on this would be that a minimum offering would be required. A person on retreat would keep the prayer schedule of the community and share common meals. The minimum offering would vary according to how long a person might stay (to cover food cost, etc.). The community would be responsible for checking in with the person, and mainly help them feel welcome.

I know all of this is pretty ridiculous--but it does make me wonder what would happen if the stars were right and something like this actually took off...
As I've said before I feel like we're approaching a kind of new Dark Age when the place of the Church and true religion is being usurped by selfish, narcissistic 'spirituality.' The garbage that Thomas Merton called false mysticism. Just like in the time of Christian Monasticism's birth, we have politicians using religion and devotion as campaign platforms. And the truth is, that like it did back in the original Dark Ages, the Church just might need to go to seed, and explore it's roots to see how to survive. Maybe monasticism is part of that.

More Ways to get yourself and your church group into trouble

2) Helping the Church Go To Seed (Monasticism and You)
This could take a lot of buy-in and planning, however, I think it could be a pretty viable plan.
First off you will need a group of people willing to apply their lives to a rule of life. By nature you CANNOT apply a rule of life to your life, you have to apply your life to the rule. Go check out the Rule of St. Benedict.
It's important that the clergy person in charge of the church group is part of this discussion as it will require their leadership and by-in. It also requires some time spent reading about monasticism and religious rules of life. But once you've done this work, you need to sit down with your would-be community to discuss the formulation of a rule of life.
An important, and I think necessary, part of this rule should be that it needs to be a spiritually centered one. That isn't to say that all residents must be of the Christian faith, or even theists for that matter. However, they must still agree to live to the standards of the religious rule of life, and be part of the worship/prayer life of the community.
The point of this is that when the social mores of community life begin to tear at the community, the community must get back to the centrality of the rule. They must have a means to return to the rule because otherwise they are no more than a group of people living together for cheap.

Once the rule is set, and residents have background checks (yes, do background checks!), you need to look into a house. In the present economy, foreclosures might be the way to go. Ideally, this community would be sponsored by a church--so, monies for a house could be raised.
Now, as to the house, it would be the responsibility of the community members to keep up the house. This would mean continually keeping common areas neat--literally in expectation of guests. Because they are technically part of the church as a community, they must adopt a policy of hospitality. Remember, this isn't just a social experiment, it is about being the Church.
The community would either schedule to take turns to prepare meals, which would be eaten in common at every possible opportunity. Housekeeping and maintenance of grounds would be the same way.
Community members would need to maintain work outside of the community in secular jobs (unless viable, independent support is possible). A portion of income would go to the common life of the community. This would pay for bills, food, etc.
As to the connection to the church, the community would do such things as keep regular prayer offices. Whether these are weekly in a formal setting, and daily in an informal setting--the community must have some lay spiritual responsibility in the church. In the Episcopal Church, it might be good to have the community plan and lead one of the prayer offices. Likewise, the community might be responsible for some sextant duties--caring for the church building and property.

This post is getting pretty long, so I'll stop here and post more separately.
In my next post, I'll talk about viable income to support the community; moving the spirituality of the community out into the world; and drawing the Church and the world nearer to the community.

Some ways to get you and your church group in trouble...

So, these are some ideas that I've been thinking about for a couple of years now, and I haven't had the time to get them started. That said, I am posting them here in the even that anyone reads this and could take these ideas and use them. I don't need credit for them, you just need to promise that you'll let me know how their working.

1) Guerrilla Art Fair
This one needs some buy-in from your local government if you hope to do it for longer than 3 hours. Or...maybe you don't care.
Call together artists, musicians, spoken-word poets--whatever. Confirm the people that you have and tell them to bring some of their work to a certain location on a certain day. (PLEASE UNDERSTAND: This is NOT a flash mob.)
Make fliers with the names of artists, include what will be at the fair. Pass them out in clubs, bars, tattoo parlors, up-scale coffee shops, etc. It's important that you have a mix of places canvassed.
Have the fair. Ask a couple of artists to offer workshops. Depending on how adventurous you feel, allow people to sell their stuff.
Also very important: Allow places for people to drop business cards, sign e-mail lists. Keep them in the loop for future events.
Evil Plot Twist: Contact any businesses who left information. See if you could round them up to sponsor a proper art show featuring the artists at the guerrilla show.

Fair Warning

So, I've decided to start posting my back-log of sermons. I lost a ton of them due to a failing external hard drive, however, because of this blog I still had many of them.