CPC's Rule of Life
CPC's Rule of Life Expanded
This is a rule of life for those who call Central Peninsula Church their community of faith.
Our complex, hurried, distracted, and increasingly polarized society poses unique challenges to faithfully following Jesus. As a response to these challenges, we must intentionally and creatively consider the call of Jesus to follow him in ways that form every dimension of our lives, seeking to become the people of God by apprenticing under Jesus. Over time we are learning how to live every part of our lives as Jesus would live our lives if he were us.
Our shared identity as citizens of the Kingdom of God means we are seeking together the way of faithfulness by responding to the gospel announcement of Jesus in Mark 1, “Come, follow me…The Kingdom of God has come near. Repent and believe the good news!” To repent is to re-imagine everything in light of Jesus and the arrival of the Kingdom of God. In doing so, change the very patterns of thinking, believing, and living that shape our lives and world. The first step in this process is repentance by bringing every dimension of who we are into alignment with this good news that the Kingdom of God is available to us now.
Christian spiritual formation is not a static thing but a dynamic process of intentionally opening our lives to the work of the Spirit to become more like Christ. Our role in this process is, as Eugene Peterson says, "A long obedience in the same direction." And we believe this is best accomplished together, in community.
At various times throughout church history, different communities of faith have developed and lived under what is called “a rule of life” to counter some of the unique challenges of faithfully growing in Christlikeness. While the language of a rule of life can seem odd to our modern ears, it is a concept the people of God have used dating back to Daniel in exile in Babylon. A rule of life is not meant to be limiting, but it is to the follower of Jesus what training is to an athlete or a musician. Put simply; A rule of life is a shared set of practices and habits a community embraces to guide the process of spiritual formation.
As a community of followers of Jesus, we seek to be a transformed people, transforming the San Francisco Peninsula. A rule of life is a set of habits we seek to integrate personally and communally into the rhythm of our lives as an attempt to consciously organize the whole of who we are around the transformative work of the Holy Spirit.
In 2019, we launched a ten-year vision at CPC to "engage in spiritual formation at a magnitude that will propel us into thoughtful and gracious cultural engagement on the San Francisco Peninsula, to ignite both personal and societal transformation." To accomplish the next chapter of this vision, we will organize our community around a shared rule of life at CPC that focuses on two sets of practices: practices of presence with God and practices of participation with God. Our prayer is that these practices will shape our lives to become a transformed people, transforming the San Francisco Peninsula.
What is A Rule of Life?
The term “rule of life” comes from the Latin word regula.
A rule of life is to the life of a Christian what a trellis is to a vine. The trellis does not bring about growth but aids growth by lifting the vine off the ground so it can flourish and bear fruit. In other words, it provides the structure and support to create the potential for change and growth. A rule of life, then, is a set of intentional practices and relational rhythms serving as a framework for our spiritual formation. These practices and rhythms guide and guard our habits and way of life toward the things of God.
The use of a rule of life dates back to Daniel in the Old Testament. Daniel, as an exile in Babylon, was a minority in a culture that was bent against the way of God. Yet, Daniel intentionally oriented his life toward God. Though he was not commanded to do so, he wisely resisted the powerful sway of the Babylonian empire by committing to a diet and the regular practice of fixed-hour prayer. These regular practices enabled him to remain attentive to God, committed to his faith community, and resolved and uncompromised in his position of influence.Jesus, too, ordered his life around practices that enabled him to stay connected to his Father and committed to his will. In John 15, he invited his disciples to abide (remain) in him, the True Vine. Jesus extends this same invitation to us. As apprentices of Jesus, we are taking our call seriously to faithfully follow Jesus in our day and learning to live our lives in the same way that Jesus would live our life if he were us.
Our rule of life at CPC is organized around two sets of practices—practices of presence to God and practices of participation with God. The practices of presence to God help us to become transformed people, while the practices of participation with God help us to transform the San Francisco Peninsula. Below is how we break down these sets of practices.
Our rule of life is comprised of these four practices—attentiveness, renewing the mind, hospitality, and vocation—which are invitations for us to daily open our hearts and our habits to the transformative work of the Holy Spirit. We will practice alongside and encourage one another, respecting where each person may be in their journey. This rule of life is not meant to replace the ordinary practices of faithfulness to which all church members are called (serving, worship, prayer, etc.). Rather, it is meant to provide a focused structure and direction for us to grow in Christlikeness and live as transformed people transforming the Peninsula.
How to Consider this Rule
The phrase “rule of life” may carry negative connotations tied to strict legalism or stifling systems. But this is not our intention. We use the term “rule of life” because it comes from the Latin phrase “regula,” meaning ruler or straight piece of wood used as a guide. As noted above, it is a language the church has used for centuries. We are always growing and changing; a rule helps to organize this growth. Ken Shigematsu, in his great book God in My Everything, talks about a rule of life as a “rule that bends.” Meaning, we should have a rule of life that is flexible to the particularities of our life and moment. The goal is not to legalistically serve the rule but to recognize the rule is a tool for our growth and nothing more. In that spirit of grace and flexibility, here are a few principles we believe will help in how to consider our rule of life.
Consider it an invitation.
This rule of life is an invitation to live in a community ordered around the practices of presence and participation. These practices and habits are not meant to be viewed as laws. Laws restrain and constrict, whereas a rule of life liberates and supports. The point is not to be "perfect" or to have "mastered" these practices; what we ultimately desire is transformation brought about by greater intimacy and communion with God. So give yourself and each other immense grace.
Consider it with your community group.
Since authentic community involves much more than what takes place in Sunday morning worship, we believe that community groups will be the primary space to discuss and implement this shared rule of life. Read through this rule of life with your community group, and begin to pray and discuss how you might support and encourage one another as you practice it together.
Consider these practices as a trial.
Give yourself the grace to experiment with, or "try on," the practices and habits in this rule of life. As you do, consider whether you'd like to make them an ongoing part of your apprenticeship to Jesus. Implementing these practices will be a process of trial and error as you determine what best works for you. Remember, the rule of life is the trellis, not the vine itself. The goal is to create a structure that helps you flourish with God. If a part of your rule is unrealistic or not helping you flourish with God, consider changing or shifting it.
Consider your stage of life.
Take some time to consider the honest reality of what this stage or season of life looks like for you (a busy or demanding season of work, caring for aging parents or young children, health issues, moving, etc.). Invite God into this process, and ask him where he wants you to start. Consider the amount of structure that will be helpful for you. To safeguard against discouragement, set goals that are both realistic and enjoyable. This will look slightly different for everyone.
Consider your commitment.
If you ultimately decide to embark on this journey, you are committing to practice the starting practices and to exploring the stretch practices as you feel called. It is recommended that you seek to commit to this rule in community, whether it is your community group, trusted friend or roommates, etc.
The Rule of Life in One Page
Practices of Presence:
Attentiveness (Fall 2022)
We practice a life of attentiveness in contrast to a life of distraction and hurry by organizing our daily living around the presence of God.
To do so, we commit to cultivating the life-giving habits of silence and solitude, and sabbath. These habits will enable us to slow down, connect with God, and create the margin in our lives to integrate our apprenticeship to Jesus in all we do.
Focus Habits: Silence/Solitude and Sabbath
In silence and solitude, we commit to creating daily rhythms of quiet with God.
In sabbath, we commit to creating a weekly rhythm of rest, pulling back from work one day a week.
Renewing the Mind (Spring 2023)
We practice renewing our minds in contrast to a world driven by noise, formative narratives counter to the Kingdom of God, and digital distraction by creating rhythms that saturate ourselves in the Kingdom of God.
To do so, we commit to cultivating the life-giving habits of fasting and scripture. These habits enable us to fill our minds and imaginations with the things of God and disconnect from the litany of the counter-narratives that permeate our world.
Focus Habits: (coming soon)
Practices of Participation
Hospitality (Fall 2023)
We practice a life of hospitality in contrast to a world of division, isolation, and hostility.
To do so… (coming soon)
Focus Habits: (coming soon)
Vocation (Spring 2024)
We practice a life of vocation and contribution, in contrast to a world of compulsive consumption.
To do so…(coming soon)
Focus Habits: (coming soon)
We practice a life of attentiveness to God in contrast to a life of distraction and hurry by organizing our daily living around the presence of God.
To do so, we commit to cultivating the life-giving habits of silence/solitude and sabbath. These habits will enable us to slow down, connect with God, and create the margin in our lives to integrate our apprenticeship to Jesus in all we do.
The pace of life in the Bay Area, marked by distraction, hurry, and noise, slowly erodes our soul and robs us of our ability to be present to God, self, and others.
We commit to start practicing attentiveness to God by incorporating five to ten minutes of silence and solitude, three to four days a week, into our regular times alone with God.
We commit to start practicing attentiveness to God by intentionally incorporating a half-day Sabbath to help build weekly rhythms of rest and worship.
We commit to stretch ourselves in practicing attentiveness to God by incorporating 10-15 minutes of silence and solitude daily into our regular times alone with God.
We commit to stretch ourselves in practicing attentiveness by intentionally incorporating a full-day Sabbath to help build weekly rhythms of rest and worship.
We move toward Christlikeness in the form of an unhurried life marked by greater patience, deeper intimacy with God, increasing awareness of self and others, and freedom from the addiction to constant stimulation.
Recommended Reading List
Invitation to Solitude and Silence - Ruth Haley Barton
Practicing the Presence of God - Brother Lawrence
Ruthless Elimination of Hurry - John Mark Comer
Sabbath - Abraham Joshua Heschel
Subversive Sabbath - AJ Swoboda