The Art of Leading Spiritually – Discerning a Shared Rhythm of Life Together

by Christine Sine
Supper at Emmaus - Roy de Maistre

Discern together – Supper at Emmaus by Roy de Maistre

The following post is part of a series on Leading Spiritually, which at the rate I am going is likely to become a book before I am finished. Thanks for those who have commented and encouraged the continuation of this series.

Check out the other posts:

The Art of Leading Spiritually – An Invitation to a Journey

The Art of Leading Spiritually – Why Are We Leading?

The Art of Leading Spiritually – Where Are We Heading?

The Art of Leading Spiritually – How Do We Do It?

The Art of Leading Spiritually – Discerning Together

The Art of Leading Spiritually – Discerning on Your Own


Discerning a Shared Rhythm of Life Together

Rules and rhythms of life have become very fashionable in the last few years. They are being adopted both by individuals wanting a more intentional structure for their faith practices and by churches and communities encouraging their leadership and staff to deeper levels of shared commitment.

Most of us however, still tend to associate a rule of life with monastic or neo-monastic communities that are on the fringes of church and society. We don’t really understand what value a commitment to a common rhythm or rule could possibly have especially in the context of leadership.  Some of us think it sounds a bit legalistic. I find however that a rule of life is very freeing. It reminds us of who we are, what God has called us to do and how God has called us to live. It can provide wonderful guidelines for enabling us to come together and stay together in unity.

What is a Rule of Life?

A rule of life is a set of practices we commit to that enable us to continue growing closer to God, to each other and to the mission God calls us to. In the words of St Benedict it is:  ‘simply a handbook to make the radical demands of the gospel a practical reality in daily life‘”

Celtic monasteries centred around the formation of communities in which members followed a certain lifestyle and maintained a regular discipline of prayer and worship.  Monks mixed manual, intellectual and spiritual labour, maintaining a balance between engagement in the world and withdrawal from it.  These communities provided a focus for the life of the surrounding non monastic community whose members made different forms of commitment and adhered to a variety of rules that acknowledged and affirmed their gifts and ministry.

A number of contemporary churches and organizations have rediscovered the value of a rhythm of life.  Ian Mobsby in his book The Becoming of G_d explains:  “As people encounter Christians living out profound expressions of the faith through God’s love, they encounter the depth of a loving Christian community and experience God as their ‘ground of being’ through worship, mission and community… It is in these participative and loving Christian communities that people can encounter the reality of the Christian story of the Holy Trinity not as a hypothetical truth but as a profound reality clueing us in to how we should live.”

A Rule of Life for Mustard Seed Associates

In Mustard Seed Associates we see a need to foster a sense of shared spirituality and commitment to accomplish what God has called us to be and do. Our times of discernment helped us established the shared values we want to undergird our practices. This in turn encouraged us to establish and adhere to practices that enable us to live into God’s new world of wholeness and abundance as a leadership community.  Out of this process came not only or rhythm of life, but also our first MSA publication Light for the Journey: Morning and Evening Prayers for Living Into God’s World.

We want to encourage ourselves and others to develop a rhythm of life in which prayer intertwines through every aspect of life so that we can keep God and God’s purposes at the centre of all we are and do.

As a result we want to encourage followers of Jesus to live into:

  1. A redeemed (restored) relationship to God, seeking intimacy with God through:
    1. Regular individual prayer & scripture study
    2. Regular corporate worship balanced with times of listening in solitude – (meditative and contemplative prayer)
    3. Repentance and confession of sins both personal and societal
    4. Commitment to personal healing of wounds from the past that create barriers between us and God
    5. Development of disciplines that encourage a balance between spiritual and secular, community and solitude, work and rest.  “Learn the unforced rhythms of grace” (Matt 11:28 The Message)
  1. A redeemed (restored) relationship to God’s worldwide community through
    1. Intentionally sharing life with others – recognizing that God comes to us in community and that community is essential for Christian faith, actively seeking support and accountability.
    2. Hospitality and celebration – “let everyone be received as Christ” celebrating the in-breaking of God’s resurrection world with others,
    3. Simple living – uncluttering our lives to focus on participating in God’s resurrection life in both local and global community – give me neither poverty nor riches (Prov 30)
    4. Solidarity with the marginalized – “act justly, love mercy” (Micah 6:8)
    5. Recognizing all we have belongs to God becoming whole life stewards who practice generosity that encourages mutual care – “where your treasure is there your heart will be also” (Matt 6:24)
    6. Humbly examining the ways culture and history have shaped our values discarding those that are counter to God’s kingdom values and embracing and celebrating those that reflect God’s kingdom values
    7. Service in the broader community – not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of others (Phil 2:4)
  1. A redeemed relationship with God’s creation through
    1. Responsible ecological stewardship – responding to the fact that “the earth is the Lord’s & the fullness there of” (Ps 24:1)
    2. Connection to the God revealed through creation
    3. Enjoyment of God’s creation and creatures

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Pieter Stok January 16, 2012 - 1:33 pm

Thank you for a very practical list.

Christine Sine January 16, 2012 - 3:35 pm

your welcome

Micha Jazz January 16, 2012 - 3:17 pm

Great stuff. I believe that there is a need to explore the contemplative life ahead of adopting a Rule or Rhythm of life. My questions revolve around the way a Rule often becomes the end rather than a means of grace.

Exploring the contemplative life leads each one of us to face the reality of the false self and passing through the pain of self discovery we discover who we really are, who God intended us to be in other words, and we can then determine how we choose to live in this world.

Contemplation is for me at the heart of leading spiritually.

Blessings and thanks for the encouragement MSA is along the way.


Christine Sine January 16, 2012 - 3:35 pm

Micha, I agree wholeheartedly as I think you will see when you read my next post. And if you would like to contribute a post yourself for this series I would greatly appreciate it.

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