Friday, 17 September 2021

Holy Habits - Missional Discipleship Resources for Churches

At our recent Provincial Synod, the following proposal was carried:
That the Provincial Elders Conference adopt Holy Habits as an integral part of Project 32 (the decade celebrating the tri-centenary of the renewal of the Moravian Church and Moravian missions), authorise a working group to take forward Holy Habits in the Province and in the congregations, and arrange for each congregation to have a set of Holy Habits books.

Holy Habits is a set of books published by the Bible Reading Fellowship (BRF). It is a collection of material which seeks to nurture Christian discipleship within congregations. It looks at the model of church found in Acts 2:42-47, and identifies ten aspects of church life described in that Biblical passage, which it calls, 'Holy Habits'. The material is designed to help explore and deepen these Habits in our own lives and the life of our churches. These Holy Habits are:

• Biblical Teaching
• Serving
• Fellowship
• Eating Together
• Breaking Bread (Holy Communion)
• Gladness and Generosity
• Prayer
• Worship
• Sharing Resources
• Making More Disciples

There are a number of different books available. There is a general introduction to the whole initiative. There is one main book for each Habit, containing worship material, material for Bible study groups and other types of study groups, and suggestions of books that can be read and films that can be watched. It also suggests appropriate articles and online media, music, poetry and pieces of art. This main book also has stories of how each habit has been formed and lived out by churches today, and makes suggestions and urges us to reflect on how each Habit can be formed and lived out in our own lives and the life of each of our congregations. In addition, there is a Bible study book and story book for each Habit. The stories can be used in sermons, Bible studies and other study groups.

Now, one might question the wisdom of embarking on such a course during Project 32. Is this not a case of navel gazing, concentrating on internal matters, when Project 32 should be about outreach and growing our church numerically? In response, I would ask, what is it we are commemorating during the decade that we are calling, 'Project 32?' We are commemorating the renewal of the Moravian Church at Herrnhut , in 1722, and the beginning of the Moravian Church's missionary work in 1732.

The history of the Moravian Church during that decade aligns well with many of the Holy Habits. In 1722, persecuted members of the Moravian Church made the journey to the estate of Count Zinzendorf, near Dresden, in the east of Germany, where they built a community, which they called, Herrnhut (Fellowship and Sharing of Resources). After a time of disunity, the community came together for a service of Holy Communion at the parish church of Berthelsdorf, on 13th August 1727. At that Holy Communion Service, divisions and wounds were healed and unity was restored. It was out of that experience that the Moravian Lovefeast was born (Breaking/Bread Holy Communion, Fellowship, Prayer and Eating Together). It was during this decade that the Watchwords or Daily Texts came into being (Biblical Teaching) and also the Hourly Intercession (Prayer). Finally, at the end of the decade, in 1732, Moravian Church missionary work began (Making More Disciples).

Sometimes, in order to grow, you need to go back to your roots.

Br Philip Cooper
Minister at Fairfield Moravian Church

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