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At key moments in church history, says Scott Bessenecker, monastic movements have kept the faith alive. "In the first renaissance [A.D. 400] it was the Celtic and Augustinian monks, in the second [800] it was the Benedictine and Nestorian monks, in the third [1200] the Franciscans and Dominicans, and in the fourth [1600] the Jesuits, Moravians, and Anabaptists."

Bessenecker believes we are ripe for another renaissance, whose leaders he calls the new friars. "What we are seeing today…is a continuation of this pattern of mission orders—devotional communities that are high on ministry to the outcasts."

Readers may quibble with Bessenecker's reading of history, but they'll be inspired by this very GenX movement. These young evangelicals are taking vows, living and ministering communally, and seeking to bring God's kingdom to the world's poor.

Bessenecker is part of this movement in his work with InterVarsity, so he is inclined to argue that this small group of missionaries will have a disproportionate effect on the church in the next 50 years.

Maybe so. But whether or not he's correct, one hopes to see and hear more from the new friars even if they don't feel at home in celebrity Christianity.



Related Elsewhere:

The New Friars is available from ChristianBook.com and other retailers.

Intervarsity Press has excerpts from the book.

For more, read Intervarsity Christian Fellowship's interview with Bessenecker and listen to him read the first chapter of The New Friars.

Christianity Today's earlier articles 'The New Monasticism,' 'A More Demanding Faith,' 'The New Missions Generation' and 'A Community of the Broken' look at the movement Bessenecker describes in The New Friars.

Information about the new monasticism and a discussion ...

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March 2007

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