Vows—exclusive promises or commitments—are almost unheard of these days. They're considered a quaint relic of times past when open options were not such highly regarded virtues. But many people in this commitment-averse culture are begging for someone to set the bar higher, to call them to higher levels of devotion.
Across the ages God has consistently attracted a few in every crowd who would make and keep vows, and called them to stick out, act out and speak out.
In The New Friars Scott Bessenecker profiles young Christians who have voluntarily removed themselves from the status quo in order to seek justice and mercy with the poorest of the world's poor. These new friars are carrying on the work of the monastic tradition, the spirit of Francis and Clare of Assisi, St. Patrick and St. Brigid, the Jesuits and Nestorians and Moravians.
The New Friars will show you that with God all things—even uncommon acts of courageous faith—are possible.
"This book needs a warning label: Beware, dangerous to your health, your service, your life. No one who reads this book is left unscathed, untouched or unanswerable. Nothing is spared--the limit of one's perspective on poverty, the reality and pain of sin, and the wrestling with one's own lifestyle from a multicultural, historical and biblical framework. This book is an important read for all persons serious about mission and requires prayer, reflection and discussion."
"Scott Bessenecker captures the joyful energy of all these young adults who are setting aside comfort and privilege in favor of meaning and impact, and places their radical commitment to loving the poor in the context of the church's historic commitment to positively transforming the world. If you haven't yet encountered the new friars, don't miss this chance to visit the cutting edge of the kingdom of God."
"Scott Bessenecker has taken the risk (or fallen to the temptation!) of putting words to a stirring of the Spirit that is both fresh and ancient. His brilliant work is a celebration of the new things God is doing, while locating these movements humbly throughout church history, as the simple renewals that the Spirit seems to bring over and over on the margins of empires and markets that threaten to infect and colonize the Christian identity. But be careful neither to hail these ragamuffin disciples as celebrities or to dismiss them as saints. Rather, allow their lives to challenge us to rethink what it means to be Christian. After all, the very fact that they seem radical or odd may only be an indictment on the sort of Christianity we have become accustomed to."
Bessenecker offers his readers a clear call to action and describes the kind of commitment it requires. And he even tells the rest of us what small steps we might take to move a little way toward simpler, more responsible living.
"Warning, The New Friars will be hazardous to your suburbanite soup kitchen mentality! . . . This book gives a convincing call to become a part of this movement."
1. God's Recurring Dream
2. Pushed into Poverty
3. Sucked into Poverty
4. The Voluntary Poverty of God
5. Incarnation: Pursuing Jesus' Descent into Humanity
6. Devotional: Pursuing Intimacy with Jesus
7. Communal: Pursuing Relational Wealth
8. Missional: Pursuing the Kingdom
9. Marginal: Pursuit at the Edges
10. Our Darkest Hour
Afterword: Darkest Night of the Year
Appendix A: How to Join the New Friars
Appendix B: Five Religious Movements That Paved the Way