New Monasticism & the Canadian Context

Recently I was browsing through the Community of Communities website which is “designed to give exposure to the growing number of intentional Christian communities scattered across the land”.  I can generally spend hours on the site, randomly selecting communities, reading about their stories of share life together.  It is always very encouraging and enlightening.

However, I am always perplexed by the map which pinpoints the various locations.  While there are numerous listing throughout the US, Canada has slim pickings.  Why is this?  Some obvious reasons might include factors like our smaller population base or fewer Christians per capita.  However, I believe there is more to it than this.

I know that many such communities in Canada are not listed there.  While many are likely unaware of the site, I believe that a fair number choose not to be listed.  I have also heard a few stories (a very few, I should add) about communities having difficulty getting listed on the site.  However, I don’t think this completely accounts for the trend.

I wonder if there is something in our post-Christendom Christian culture that is less interested in engaging in communities that are so explicitly identified as the other listings?  While I know many Canadian Christians are deeply interested in new monasticism, are we less likely to make the costly choices to enter into such intentional communities?

I would love to hear your thoughts, as Chiara House seeks to lay a foundation in this very context.

What say you?

Categories News | Tags: | Posted on January 21, 2011

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  1. by Paul Dixon

    On January 21, 2011

    I’m trying to think of a reasonable response. but all I can open with is expressing my disappointment in the lack of communities. I think it’s sad really. I do know of some existing communities, and you’re right it could be they lack knowledge in regards to a site such as you mentioned. In general I do find canadian communities more guarded. I’m not sure why that would be. I find this also in trying to learn of house churches and alt churches, they seem to be more secretive and not much if any information is offered. I suggest we need more publicity about these movements so other will understand the changing face of the faith in Canada.

    The only wise hypothesis I can think of is that Canada generally seems to be behind the times, so we’ll see the same growth of the movements in about 5 years.

  2. by Jamie

    On January 21, 2011

    Thanks Paul. Some interesting thoughts. As for being behind the times, I wonder. As far as religious trends, I think Canada is reflecting that we are ahead of the US. Not “ahead” as in better, just further along the inevitable trends of a post-Christendom culture. Much to ponder, eh?

  3. by Rob

    On January 22, 2011

    i think there are some profound reasons for this difference – including the place of Canada in relation to post/Christendom, the role of the Church in society in the two contexts, the economic standing of the Church in Canada, our history of social gospel being different in Canada (and thus things like health care, other social safety nets, etc. being less ‘desperate than in the US context)… some of this came up in a community discussion after watching ‘ordinary radicals’ at our formation group last week.

    but one very practical reason should also be noted: shane claiborne emailed us and asked us to enter ourselves. however every time we tried to enter our little community, we got a message saying ‘entry not valid’ or something like that (i think it happened when we tried to enter our postal code). i tried a couple of times over a period of several months as well as sending several messages to community of communities support and never heard back…

    so there may be more Canadian communities who have tried to enter themselves, but haven’t been able to and gave up like we did. i should try again sometime and see if that little bug has been fixed!

    in Christ
    rob / the jeremiah community

  4. by Jamie

    On January 22, 2011

    Rob, those are some very helpful insights, thanks.

    As for the tech problem, I have heard that many times from others too. I have a connect there, so I will drop them a note.


  5. by Vivianne LaRiviere

    On September 19, 2013

    Hi ~
    I’ve JUST started a Doctorate of Ministry (Doctorate de Théologie Pratique) @ St. Paul’s University in Ottawa.
    Part of my budding interests lies in this very topic. I am keen on developing some research in this area. I am interested in the connection of what I name as ‘spiritual grief,’ and acedia, and how perhaps a contemporary rule (if there be such a thing) could be designed for liberal and contemporary folks who might be interested in a monastic approach to their faith. As I also venture into the waters of diaconal ministry with the United Church, it might also be worth contemplating a joint/ecumenical approach to all of this.
    Any information is deeply appreciated.
    Thank you,

  6. by Jamie

    On September 23, 2013

    Vivianne, I will drop you an email. Thanks!

  7. by Randy Murray

    On May 14, 2014

    I’m very interested in monasticism in general whether it be traditional or new. I’m particularly interested in the contemplative tradition, Christianity’s great though neglected treasure. I am actively looking for alternatives to my current vocation which is parish priesthood. I’m looking for that next step in witness, action, and contemplation, a witness to the importance of creation and thus to the environment, contemplative prayer, intercession, and social care.Not so much interested in dispersed communities, though; rather interested in life in community–not popular right now. It is very hard to find information.

  8. by Cheryl

    On August 18, 2014

    I have been looking for years for a Community to join, and if I had the means, I would just start one in Western Canada. I’m very interested in New Monasticism, I’ve tried the mainstream route of missions and was disappointed at the consumerism involved and that it’s run more like a business than like a group of people trying to reach the world for Christ.


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