Rule of Life
Everyone has a rule of life. Structures, habits, patterns and rhythms of daily, weekly and yearly activity that we follow, usually without much thought. Adopting a tested and pastoral rule of life is one of the ways many members of the Reformed Communion have discovered the deep wisdom and riches of the Great Tradition of pastoral spirituality. But adopting and committing to a pastoral rule is more than an exercise of personal piety. It is a gift to our communities and churches when pastors become habituated to an intentional life of prayer, scriptural and theological reflection, and avocational recreation. The Reformed Communion offers this model of a rule which has been adopted and adapted by many of our members.
The Reformed Communion was founded in 2004 for the purpose of ministerial fellowship and formation. Since then our community has grown to include pastors and ministry leaders from many denominations who share Reformed, Catholic and Missionary sensibilities and strive toward their expression in various institutions. The Rule of Life that follows is intended to give substance and shape to the fulfillment of these ambitions. This rule draws on the classic spiritual practices of the Christian tradition, especially the Benedictine way of life, and is therefore not meant to be an inflexible regula, but a normative pattern adaptable to various circumstances as necessary. And yet, the pursuit of holiness and ministerial integrity is a well-worn path upon which we must follow those who have finished strong. Therefore, as members of the Reformed Communion, we commit ourselves to the following:
With the conviction that we can only give to others that which we have cultivated within ourselves, members of the Reformed Communion are committed to:
- Cultivating pastoral and personal piety shaped by the daily disciplines of prayer and scripture reading throughout the day (Psalm 55:17).
- Gathering in our church communities regularly for the purpose of hearing God's Word, celebrating the Lord's Supper, and fellowship with God’s people in order to “equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ” (Eph. 4:12).
- Serving one another as confessors, counselors, spiritual friends and/or spiritual directors as need and opportunity arise. We commit to “bearing one another’s burdens” through encouraging faithfulness to the promises made in ordination, and seeking to live as examples to our families and parishioners (Gal. 6:2).
- Engaging one another in theological, cultural and personal reflection through regular contributions to the private online forum with the goal of becoming more faithful and learned teachers of the faith “once delivered to all the saints” (Jude 3).
- Sharing available resources and best practices on both the private online forum and public website (Heb. 13:16).
- Serving the cause of Christian unity as confessing members of the one, holy, catholic and apostolic Church (Eph. 4:5-6).
For guidance and encouragement how the Rule of Life can be adapted to your context, consider the following resources:
- The Daily Office
- Spirituality for Everyday Living – Brian C. Taylor
- Seeking God's Face
- A Diary of Private Prayer – John Baillie
Membership in the Reformed Communion shall consist of ordained ministers from Reformed denominations who promise to abide by the Rule, have been formally received into membership by the Board of Directors and are current in their annual dues. The work of the Reformed Communion shall be under the pastoral direction of the Director, who is elected biennially by the board.
I: FORMATION IN DAILY PRAYER
- The Reformed Communion will be bound together in common prayer. The daily prayer of the Church (the divine office or the liturgy of the hours) forms the personal discipline of our members because of its biblical content and roots in the catholic tradition.
- Members of the Reformed Communion shall observe the daily offices of morning, noon and evening prayer. When together with one or more members, these prayers shall be recited jointly. When absent from one another, and unable to join another praying community, we shall pray on our own. The Book of Common Prayer (1979) will be the primary (but not exclusive) source of our corporate worship and is commended for private prayer.
- A private recitation of the office could include these elements:
- Morning Prayer (Matins): Psalm 95, other Psalms, a reading from the daily lectionary, Song of Zechariah (Benedictus), the Collect of the Day, other prayers, and the Lord's Prayer.
- Noon Prayer: Psalm 121, 126, other Psalms, Collect of the Day, other prayers, and the Lord’s Prayer.
- Evening Prayer (Vespers): Psalm 141, other Psalms, a reading from the daily lectionary, Song of Mary (Magnificat), intercessory prayers, the collect for peace, and the Lord's Prayer. And/Or…
- Prayer at the Close of the Day (Compline): a prayer of confession, Psalm 4, 33, 34, 91, 134, or 136, a brief lesson, a bedtime prayer, and the Song of Simeon (Nunc dimittis).
II: GATHERING FOR RETREAT
- The Reformed Communion will gather annually at the Cultivate Conference for corporate prayer, theological instruction, ministerial formation and fellowship.
- The Reformed Communion will regularly co-sponsor regional and denominational gatherings for the purpose of mutual edification and recruiting.
- The Reformed Communion will encourage regional retreats for corporate prayer and instruction, private contemplation, mutual confession and absolution and spiritual direction.
III: MUTUAL CARE
The Reformed Communion intends to cultivate our common life in Christ through the exercise of mutual care and personal spiritual formation. This service will take various forms including (but not limited to): confession and absolution, counseling, spiritual friendships and spiritual direction. Therefore, members will:
- Seek out a fellow member (or other trusted pastor) who is willing to serve as a confessor and will be available for one's individual confession no less than monthly.
- Seek and/or offer spiritual counsel during times of personal or ministerial difficulty.
- Cultivate deep and abiding spiritual friendships with one or more members of the Reformed Communion.
- Seek and/or offer spiritual direction as need and opportunity arise.
IV: FORUM PARTICIPATION
One way we exercise mutual care is through regular participation in an online forum, hosted on the Slack platform. Participation in the forum includes, but is not limited to:
- Logging in and reading new posts on a regular basis (averaging at least twice per month).
- Making regular forum contributions (averaging at least once per month).
- Respecting the private nature of forum content. No forum content may be shared without the express permission of it’s author.
- Adhering to the Reformed Communion posting policy in all forum contributions (see below).
The Reformed Communion exists to train and sustain pastors and ministry leaders in the work of the holy catholic church. One of the ways we hope to accomplish this goal is through on-line communication. Given the dangers of on-line discourse and the possibility that the way we speak to one another on-line may undermine the messages we are trying to convey, the Board of Directors has established the following posting policy for anything written on the Reformed Communion web site or on Slack. This policy applies to any and every posted resource, article, blog post, blog comment, and Slack post. It will be enforced by the Board of Directors, and repeated violations will result in the revocation of posting privileges.
The basis for the posting policy comes from the Apostle Paul’s admonishment to the Colossian church: “Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you must also forgive. And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony (Colossians 3:12-14).”
From this admonition to be clothed in love, we draw the following specific points of policy:
- Charity: Because the Reformed Communion exists to strengthen pastors and ministry leaders throughout the reformed tradition, we will always think the best of one another. We will not allow our own theological proclivities to cause us to assume that another person exists on the edges or outside of Christ’s church. Therefore, we will avoid inflammatory and accusatory language that undermines the goals of mutual understanding and edification.
- Edification: The Reformed Communion exists for the mutual edification of pastors and ministry leaders. This means we will only post those things that encourage others in the work of the church. Therefore, those who post on the Reformed Communion web site will remember our Savior’‘s admonition to speak directly to those with whom you are in conflict. Conflict or potential conflict that has not been dealt with in a biblical manner will not be aired on the Reformed Communion web site.
- Temperance: Because we value charity and edification, we value temperance in the manner of writing. Name-calling, excessive sarcasm, links to inappropriate material, and accusations against brothers and sisters in Christ will not be tolerated on the Reformed Communion web site or on Slack.
- Honesty: Honesty is a component of loving one’s neighbor. Therefore we will endeavor always to speak the truth in love to one another. We encourage those who post to the Reformed Communion web site to verify the content of their writings before posting them in order to avoid the propagation of unfounded rumors that work against the unity of the church.
- Discretion: We desire for the Reformed Communion to be a safe space for dialogue and to that end we will refrain from sharing another’s personal posts or conversations without that person’s explicit permission.
Thank you for endeavoring to abide by this posting policy. It is our hope that the conversations that take place on the Reformed Communion web sites glorify our Savior and strengthen his Church.
V: SHARING RESOURCES
The members of the Reformed Communion desire the flourishing of ministers and churches. Therefore, we are committed to sharing ourselves, our resources and some of our best-practices. Specifically we will:
- Share our stories. On both the public website and private forum, we will share our experiences in both life and ministry.
- Share our thoughts. From our latest ideas on preaching and worship, to our reflections on world events, pop culture and politics, we want to be a community that celebrates creativity and conversation.
- Share our work. Leading congregations requires new strategies and resources that are often available from others. Members of the Reformed Communion are committed to sharing their work for the well-being of the church catholic.
VI: ECUMENICAL COMMITMENTS
- The Reformed Communion, from its inception, is committed to the pursuit of visible unity in the one, holy, catholic and apostolic church.
- We acknowledge the sad reality of denominational divisions and the muted witness of the church. We also confess this brokenness to be a temporary reality. In eschatological hope, we pray and work for healing of Christ’s body.
- To this end, we invite guests from various ecclesiastical traditions to participate in our regional and national gatherings and we humbly pray for Christian unity.
- Locally, we actively cultivate relationships across denominational lines and relentlessly pursue visible unity insofar as God and conscience allow.