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.