A Christian Reformed pastor in Ontario has started a community that’s attracted about 60 people from across different denominations to intentionally live a set of rules or habits intended to draw them into a deeper relationship with God.
Habitus Community is “a redemptive community of practice organizing our lives around the way of Jesus through a common rule of life. We devote ourselves to the recovery of regular but radical Christianity, seeking the renewal of the church and its mission in the world.”
Phil Reinders, new pastor at Clearview Christian Reformed Church in Oakville, Ont., and founder of the Habitus Community, described the purpose of such living. It “seeks to live the good way of Jesus with joy, wisdom, and courage so that the skeptical and suspicious generation would consider Christ and the church would be renewed.”
Reinders began the community in May 2016 as part of a research project during his doctoral ministry studies. At the time, he was serving at Knox Presbyterian church, and he led a group of about 30 people through a practice of following an agreed-upon set of habits, called a “rule of life,” for one year.
The people committed to pray intentionally three times each day; read Scripture daily; detach from digital communication for one hour each day; keep a weekly 24-hour Sabbath; keep weekly fellowship with a triad (group of 3-4 people); fast once each week (from what and for how long was decided in the triad); practice weekly hospitality, such as having someone from outside one’s community over for dinner; and keep a yearly retreat.
Habitus Community is entering into its fourth year this fall. Reinders anticipates about 20 people from Clearview CRC will commit to the practice. There are about 10 people from Knox Presbyterian who are committing to another year, and there are 20-30 additional people from other churches, mainly in Ontario.
Sandy Swartzentruber, resource coordinator for the CRC’s Faith Formation Ministries, said the faith formation team is curious about how the budding Habitus movement might fit with its own five-year emphasis on faith practices, and they’re planning to explore it. “I think being absent from church during COVID (restrictions) has caused many folks to recognize that we cannot expect our pastors and other church leaders to do our faith formation for us—we each need to cultivate personal faith practices as well as corporate ones.”
Reinders affirmed this. “There’s a hunger in people to find a better way to follow Jesus. We believe there’s a good way found in Jesus Christ where people can walk with God and have everyday life nourished by God in the company of others.”
He welcomes others to explore habituscommunity.org to learn more about the movement or bring the practice of the rule of life to their community.