Wednesday, August 19, 2009

OPEN HAND - Creating a Community 'Rule'

OPEN HAND Community Roundabout and the emergent church: Adapted from The Great Emergence - How Christianity is Changing and Why by Phyllis Tickle

Another White Board designed by O'Steven

I was reminded recently by Chris Webb of Renovare that faith communities have always used the structure of their environment to articulate the Gospel - showing how the life of God becomes uniquely manifest in each particular setting.

Our tribal life together in Open Hand has been distilled over the past decade into a pattern for sharing our faith. Historically a 'Rule' is a written record of the patterns of activity that a faith community generate to encode the essential rhythms of their shared life in Christ. It isn't a legalistic set of instructions but more of an evocative description of the way we chose to live in commuinty and our reasons for doing so.

Webb describes it as an invitation to commit ourselves to one another in a particular way. The goal being to intentionally shape and create opportunities for us all to become more fully alive. A community 'Rule' helps sketch out this process while encouraging and inspiring the entire tribe.

He has four simple suggesstions for creating a good commuinty 'Rule':

  • BE OPEN - let the community help shape their Rule
  • BE REALISTIC - a good rule will stretch and challenge but not be harsh or burdensome
  • BE CREATIVE - include the unique gifts, ministries, talents and passions and any distinct callings within the community
  • BE SIMPLE - keep it clear, practical and short

As an example the Northumbria Community in northern England has a one sentence Rule:

"The Rule we embrace and keep will be that of availability and vulnerability."

Here are six elements that Webb highlights as having been prominent in many great Rules in Christian tradition:

1.) Intention - this is a statement of intention and usually expresses who we hope to become through God's grace working among us.

2.) Prayer - is the foundation of a faith community when we are together and apart

3.) Work - laboring in creation is another expression of the image of God implanted within us. We need understanding or how our working lives contribute to the kingdom of God being revealed today.

4.) Hospitality - shows how we receive newcomers and strangers who simply desire to visit us awhile and those who wish to join our community.

5.) Mission - our Rule reflects our callings as a community helping promote an environment which actively supports them.

6.) Commitment - community is built on the foundation of love, dedication and commitment to others and the Rule helps design and support the architecture and structure of our shared lives.

Perhaps this is the season for our OPEN HAND community to create a Rule that reflects our unique tribal identity.

Adopted from Rhythms of Life Series 1 Part 2 Community by Chris Webb

O' on the roundabout

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