The Common Christian Practices

Following Brian McLaren’s recent classification, we can recognize three types of spiritual practices – those that are individual and “personal,” upon which the more public or “communal” practices are based designed to build community. These in turn yield “missional” practices, practices we engage in as we engage in our Christian ministry with others. As with all lists, you’ll find a number of such inventories of Christian practices. This one combines the work of McLaren with that of Foster, Bass, and Butler Bass, all of whose work are listed in our Resources. Click on each of the Practices below to get further information.

Commonly considered “personal” disciplines are:

Without the personal disciplines, the communal disciplines risk being sham, for they naturally emerge out of the inward dispositions which result from the transformation that occurs through meditation, prayer, fasting and study, and the others. These refer to regular (daily) practices in which we engage, in order that we may be able to express our faith communally out of deep inner conviction and passion, rather than out of duty, custom, or fear.

  1. Meditation
  2. Prayer
  3. Fasting
  4. Study
  5. Simplicity
  6. Discernment
  7. Pilgrimage
  8. Forgiveness
  9. Dying well
  10. Solitude
  11. Submission
  12. Honouring the body

As you look at these personal spiritual practices, which one(s) would best suit your personality? How might you experiment with one or more of these to see if it might open you to God’s presence and transform you?

Commonly held “communal” disciplines include:

The communal disciplines are intentional and organized ways in which we come together as individual Christians to celebrate our identity as Christians, to build an alternative to the dominant culture based on compassion and justice. The communal disciplines are the fruit of the dispositions developed through the inward disciplines. They are, if you will, the corporate manifestations of the transformation which occurs as a result of letting God become the centre of life. In turn, they prepare us for the missional disciplines.

  1. Keeping the Holy Seasons
  2. Confession
  3. Testimony
  4. Household economics
  5. Keeping Sabbath
  6. Beauty
  7. Worship
  8. Shaping Communities

Once you have established a routine of “personal” practices, how might you give expression to your deepening spiritual awareness through “communal” practices?

Commonly held “missional” disciplines include:

The Missional disciplines address the reality that, as a Christian body, we are sent out. Christian life has this unique characteristic that it is not solely a personal matter; nor is it primarily a community affair. Christian life is about “mission,” about being sent out into the world to help bring about God’s Dream for humanity. The missional disciplines address the regular, intentional practices which help the church community move out into the world.

  1. Service
  2. Diversity
  3. Justice
  4. Communal Discernment
  5. Celebration
  6. Hospitality

As you grow in your openness to God, how are you being transformed, and what forms of “missional” practice might you be called to adopt and contribute to?