The New Friars: A Missional Opportunity

Written by Mark Van Steenwyk : May 18, 2008

Here’s an excellent training/service opportunity (via Jamie Arpin-Ricci):

In his excellent book “The New Friars: The Emerging Movement Serving the World’s Poor”, Scott Bessenecker calls us to consider the historic tradition of small monastic movements that have embodied the missional solidarity with the poor. Like St. Francis and his order, these small communities kept the vibrancy of faith alive through their example, passion and sacrifice. Today, a new movement of “friar” like young Christians are carrying on this tradition- missional orders who seek to discover and serve Christ among “the least of these” around the world.

We are thrilled to announce that Scott Bessenecker will be one of the lecturers on our Justice Discipleship Training School (JDTS) this coming October. It is fitting that he will be teaching on this topic as it largely encapsulates the very essence of what our school and community is about. Our goal is the provide a community where spiritual and missional formation draws each participant into a deeper understanding and commitment to lives of missional justice among the poor (or as I like to call them, Franabaptists!).

How do we do this? We focus on both content and context. While not academic in nature, our disicipleship “program” provides a call to character and community, laying a solid foundation in spiritual and missional foundation. This includes teaching, study, service, film, etc. provided in such a way that a life-long Christian with a university degree is equally challenged alongside an inner city former gang member.

Perhaps more important than content, however, is context. Participants- students and staff (a very light distinction, by the way)- spend the first three months of “training” living in our community house in the heart of Winnipeg’s inner city West End neighbourhood. Living in intentional community, sharing a rythme of life together, is critical to the formation process. The house, a once-abandoned gang house of some notariaty, is in itself a symbol of the Kingdom to our neighbours. Even most of our meals are taken in the community at a local truly third-place diner.

Our passion is to offer missional formation that embraces both our local and global vocation, developing both a theology of going and a theology of place. To that end, the team will spend two months in a missions/service trip to Uganda. Having formed connections and relationships of advocacy, service and mutual learning over the last several years, we are convinced that first-hand experience with the connectedness of our increasingly small world is an essential part of discipleship.

Each year we only take a small group of participants, as we want to keep the community intimate. However, we still have a few more places available. Please pray about joining us or recommending someone else to be a part of this exciting opportunity. The school begins on October 6th, 2008, ending on February 27, 2009 with a short break over Christmas. Visit our website for more details.

Are you interested? Know anyone who might be? Willing to be an advocate for the school? Let me know!

Mark Van Steenwyk is the general editor of Jesus Manifesto. He is a Mennonite pastor (Missio Dei in Minneapolis), writer, speaker, and grassroots educator. He lives in South Minneapolis with his wife (Amy), son (Jonas) and some of their friends.

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