The New Monasticism: The 12 Marks: Introduction

Posted in: Spirituality by bill-o on August 28, 2008

Today, I’m beginning a multi-part series about the 12 marks of the New Monasticism movement. Each of these marks is presented at the following link and below in this post:

The compilation of these 12 marks of the way of life for New Monasticism took place in the summer 2004. These 12 marks point out the commonalities in a way of life for many diverse faith communities of followers of Christ. Most of these communities are located somewhere in North America.

Over time, I’ll be presenting each of these 12 marks to you here at for your consideration. My aim in doing so is not so much to present an intellectual or theological analysis of each of the marks; nor is my goal to provide examples of how followers of Christ are attempting to demonstrate each one. Besides seeking to introduce more people to this increasingly important movement, my main objective here in presenting these marks to you is to provide points of meditation and reflection on the lifestyle and characteristics of followers of Christ that each one presents.

You might agree or disagree with each of the 12 marks or how each one is currently interpreted by the various communities of New Monastics. You may even disagree with the entire concept of having a list of 12 marks. Or you might be thinking that these marks are good for New Monastics but not for others. Conversely, you may be coming at this from the opposite side: You might be asking yourself, “Why aren’t Christ’s followers already doing these things?” Regardless of your initial thoughts on this subject, I think that, at the least, each one of these points is worthwhile of prayer and careful, reflective thought, and I would please invite you here to examine each of these 12 principles of faith and community.

As you reflect upon each of these marks, I’d recommend neither accepting nor rejecting each one too quickly. Rather, slowly and carefully read each one and think about what each of the 12 marks might mean to you.


The 12 Marks of the New Monasticism

1.  Relocation to the abandoned places of Empire

2.  Sharing economic resources with fellow community members and the needy among us

3.  Hospitality to the stranger

4.  Lament for racial divisions within the church and our communities
combined with the active pursuit of a just reconciliation

5.  Humble submission to Christ’s body, the church

6.  Intentional formation in the way of Christ and the rule of the
community along the lines of the old novitiate

7.  Nurturing common life among members of intentional community

8.  Support for celibate singles alongside monogamous married couples and their children.

9.  Geographical proximity to community members who share a common rule of life

10.  Care for the plot of God’s earth given to us along with support of our local economies

11.  Peacemaking in the midst of violence and conflict resolution within communities along the lines of Matthew 18

12.  Commitment to a disciplined contemplative life



  1. I look forward to your series. With school on top of me, the breadth of my reading is lessening, but the subject of my reading is close to this. This should make up for some of the reading I won’t have time to do.

    I’m new to New Monasticism, as you know. I’m a little surprised they put #12 as #12, but perhaps they needed to distinguish themselves from more traditional forms of monasticism before they got to the “of course” part.

    Comment by Peter — August 28, 2008 @ 11:18 pm

  2. I, too, was surprised that the mark about a disciplined contemplative life was the last of the 12. Numbers 5, 6, and 9 could also, though, be closely identified with traditional forms of monasticism.

    Comment by bill-o — August 29, 2008 @ 7:03 am

  3. Cant’ wait to see how yours compares with my comments about the concept in Behold: the Blog that I’ve been calling the Neighborhood House Church. In “My Dog Ate My Bible (and Other Lame Excuses)” I deal pretty much directly with points 4 and 10, but not in great depth–mostly just to state and briefly defend the positions. Points 2, 7, 8, & 9 are in the parody “Koinonia in TV Land” because I recognize that much of the Church’s history is a story of loss and recovery; and besides, it was a heck of a lot of fun to write.

    The thing I’m most curious about right now, though, is your definition of the term “Empire.” Is it what I have called the institutional church, or the world system governmentally, or some combination of the two? Folowing the link to didn’t really help me thee. I’ll keep my eyes open for your next post on this.

    Comment by Apoblepo — August 29, 2008 @ 9:55 am

  4. I’m not entirely sure how the New Monastics define the term “Empire” in their mark number 1. I just discovered a web site that gives a view of this term:

    (BTW, I’m not sure that agree with this web site, but it has empire in its name and it is discussing this topic.)

    I could go further with this, but I think that I’ll save any further comments about the interpretation of “Empire” until a later post. …

    Comment by bill-o — August 29, 2008 @ 3:46 pm

  5. If want to jump ahead and read about mark #1, please go to:

    Comment by bill-o — August 29, 2008 @ 3:52 pm

  6. I wonder if “empire” doesn’t refer to the U.S. expansionist policies American Christians have fallen into defending, just as the church in some ways got sucked into nationalism and empire under Constantine.

    I think it’s part of our cry for an authentic Christianity that we express by trying to connect with the past, in this case with the religion as it existed before it became a state religion.

    Comment by Peter — August 30, 2008 @ 5:23 am

RSS feed for comments on this post. TrackBack URL

Leave a comment

You must be logged in to post a comment.