But lest we think the “bad guy” title belongs only to those retreating, we need to bear in mind that another monastic tradition requires its adherents to live in cities among the people. The 12th century saw the development of Augustinian and Franciscan orders, among others. These orders formed communities and enclaves among the poor to do good works. Among “evangelical” Protestants the most developed form of this approach is the New Monasticism
(and there I was thinking I was clever with the title of this post). It’s a fairly Benedictine movement without the habits and the vows of poverty or celibacy. But perhaps there’s a softer version to be found in some “missional communities,” whether small groups or entire churches. A weak form of “missional communities” will fall into doing good without doing evangelism. The communities would still be inward focused in their piety; they’ll simply have good works to add to their resume.