Plow Creek Fellowship: Vision, Rule of Life and Structures
We believe that God is calling Plow Creek Fellowship, leaders of a Christian intentional community, to the message of reconciliation in four primary areas:
- Reconciliation of people to God
- Reconciliation of people to Others
- Reconciliation of man/woman to Self
- Reconciliation of people to Creation
With God’s help, Plow Creek Fellowship seeks to be a global village sharing God’s message of reconciliation and practicing the peace and love of Jesus. Our leaders, community life, work, and structures should support this call and mission. One particular “structure,”our common Rule of Life will help us live out our calling to share the message of reconciliation and walk in peace and love. (See Rule of Life: God, Others, Self, Creation)
Reconciling with God
Based on scripture we will fix our eyes on God, our creator, provider, and our redeemer through His beloved Son in whom we have forgiveness of sins. In all things giving thanks and opening our hearts to Him. Acknowledging our purpose is to glorify Him.
Plow Creek Fellowship seeks to lead a community marked by continual turning to God in praise, gratitude and supplication. Encouraging individual and corporate worship times acknowledging that God alone is our refuge and
provider. We bring our broken and sinful selves to Jesus who died and rose, who broke the power of death and evil so that we can be healed and free.
(Please note: scriptures for each of the four ways of reconciliation are in an addendum).
We do this by:
- Daily fixing our eyes on God, our creator, redeemer and provider.
- Confessing our sins and reveling in Jesus forgiveness.
- Daily offering praise, gratitude and supplication to our Father.
- Gathering as a community to worship God.
- Responding to the Father’s grace and provision with generously sharing our time, attention and money.
- Acknowledging our brokenness and finding our home and wholeness in the broken body of Jesus.
- Obeying the voice of Jesus.
Jesus’ call for reconciling with others stretches from “love one another”to “love your enemies.”There are a number of practical ways Jesus teaches his people to reconcile with one another: Bear one another’s burdens, take the plank out of your eye before working on the splinter in another’s eye, forgive that your Father in heaven might forgive you, and, when you brother sins go to him privately; if that doesn’t work take two or three, and if that doesn’t work have the whole community address the matter and if that doesn’t work, love him like a heathen and tax collector. Love is not only about conflict; love also brings out the best in one another by honoring the gifts of each member. Our goal as a community is to have our neighbors say, “My how they love one another”and our Lord to say, “Well done, thou good and faithful servants.”
Jesus calls us to reconciling love with insiders and outsiders. He came to fulfill the law where tithes were shared with the Levite, foreigner, fatherless and widow. Today we fulfill Jesus’ law of love by overcoming racism in our hearts and structures. We walk with people of color who are treated unjustly and raise our voices for those who are oppressed and pushed to the edge of our communities like single parent families, people with disabilities, women, the mentally ill, the unemployed, and undocumented workers. Love and justice are our song.
Plow Creek Fellowship seeks to lead a community marked by reconciling love for one another, neighbors and enemies. We glorify God by living out Jesus call to reconciling love with insiders and outsiders, people of color, single parent families, and those pushed to the edges of our communities. Love and justice are our song.
We do this by:
- Daily loving one another with warm eyes, true words, and gentle deeds.
- Seeing the beauty and image of God in each person.
- Practicing hospitality for strangers and friends.
- Loving our critics, enemies and people who take advantage of us.
- Refusing to participate in the military, police and any institution that depends on the use of violence.
- Refusing to protect our property or ourselves with the use of violence because we depend on the Father for protection and redemption from evil.
- Taking the plank out of our own eye before approaching a sister or brother about their shortcomings.
- Speaking truth in love.
- Not using the police and courts to settle disputes with brothers and sisters but use of humble, open and Jesus-led conversation.
- When you remember a brother or sister has something against you, leave your gift in front of the altar and go and reconcile with your brother or sister.
- Going privately to a brother or sister who sins and seeking to win them back to the Father. If that fails, we involve two or three others in trying to win them
back. If that fails, we involve the whole community in trying to win them back. And if that fails, we treat them as Jesus treated unbelievers and tax collectors.
- Forgiving others as we desire to be forgiven by the Father.
- Befriending, building community, and seeking justice for those on the edges of our communities—separated by color, sex, disability, intelligence, ethnicity, nationality, or poverty.
- Honoring the gifts God has given to each person in the body of Christ, the beloved community.
- In community decision making, being humble when in the majority, honoring those in the minority, and trusting the Lord whether in the minority or majority on a decision.
We are created in God’s image and reflect God’s being. As image-bearers our worth and calling is great! Psalm 139:13-16 says “For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well. My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place. When I was woven together in the depths of the earth, your eyes saw my unformed body. All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.”
Though we may know in our minds that we are fearfully and wonderfully made, our sin, our years living on this earth, our being broken, vulnerable people living amongst broken, vulnerable people, has caused each of us need of being reconciled to self –our true self, God’s vision of who we are and who God wants us to be.
Our sin creates a chasm that separates us from God and knowing God’s truth about us. By naming our sins, confession our sins to God and others, and by repentance we can turn from our sin and be in right relationship with God. (John 3:16-18, Psalm 51:1-19, 2 Corinthians 5:17-21, 1 Peter 2:24-25, Hebrews 12:1)
We experience a great many losses in life: death, divorce, infidelity, miscarriage, infertility, loss of homes or property, unemployment, loss of health, mistakes of children, abuse, faithlessness of a group, sins of a nation, separation from loved ones, and on and on. These losses have been experienced by God’s people throughout the ages and God’s Word does not leave out stories of loss: Psalm 38:1-6; I Samuel 1:1-8; Job 1:14-17; Job 2:7-8; Proverbs 10:1 and 17:21; 2 Samuel 12:10-20; Jeremiah 23:9; Ezra 10:1, 6; 1 Thessalonians 2:17; Jeremiah 31:15, 2 Samuel 1:26 are just a few. Yet God is with us in our times of loss and wishes to bring healing. One way that God helps us heal from loss is through the careful listening and care of those around us. Another way is the grief process itself. We seek to be a community that provides space for those experiencing loss to grieve with honesty and integrity, treats those in pain with love and patience, and mourns alongside and comforts our brothers and sisters. (Matthew 5:4, 2 Corinthians 1:3-4)
Reconciliation of self includes physical and emotional healing from our losses and pain. Healing can come through a number of ways including God’s deliverance and miraculous intervention, counseling, telling our stories, laughter, prayer, medical intervention, the help of friends, and sharing one another’s burdens. We seek to witness our friends and neighbors healed and made well! (Luke 17:11-19, Mark 2:1-15, Galatians 6:2, 1 Peter 5:7, Philippians 4:6-9)
Reconciliation to self also means that as we follow with singleness of mind, we must also set healthy boundaries with others and take care of ourselves. Mark 1:35-45 includes a great example of Jesus taking care of himself.
In this passage Jesus practices self-care through prayer, taking time for himself and creating space for himself, rest, responding out of compassion, not obligation, letting others take the initiative, and remaining focused on His mission. In the passage Jesus said “No”to his disciples when they wanted him to minister in a certain way, and said “Yes”to God, instead –doing what he had come to do. Jesus also provides us an example of setting a boundary –telling the man not to share about the healing with everyone.
Others are responsible for their own decisions and actions, which Jesus relayed in Mark 10:17-22. The rich man had to make a choice in order to follow Jesus. Jesus showed healthy boundaries by loving the man, being honest with him, and letting him be responsible for his own decision. In the same way, Romans says we are responsible for our own actions and must give an account to God, though we ought not put a stumbling block in front of our brother or sister. (Romans 14:12)
Plow Creek Fellowship seeks to lead a community marked by emotional health and safe, vibrant relationships. We can glorify God through our confession and repentance; loss and grief, grieving and mourning; healing and gratitude; compassion, self-care, and healthy boundaries.
We do thus by:
- Seeing ourselves as fearfully and wonderfully made in the womb in the image of God.
- Humbly acknowledging the great chasm our sins create between us, God and others.
- Confessing our sins to God and others when we fall short.
- Acknowledging that loss and pain are a part of the brokenness of life.
- Grieving, knowing that blessed are they that mourn for they shall be comforted.
- Knowing we are made whole by connecting with the broken body and shed blood of Jesus.
- Seeking God’s deliverance and miraculous intervention through counseling, telling our
stories, laughter, prayer, medical intervention, the help of friends, and sharing one another’s burdens.
- Mourning with those who mourn and laughing with those who laugh.
- Setting boundaries for Sabbath rest, solitude, exercise and quiet time with our Creator.
- Clear focus on the mission God has given each of us.
- Setting healthy boundaries by loving the other, being honest with the other, and letting him/her be responsible for her/his own decision.
- By being responsible for our own actions and accountable to our Father.
Upon creating the world and everything in it, God deemed it “tov,”which is translated “good.”In English “good”can often have the connotation of “okay”or “satisfactory,”but in Hebrew “tov”means something more akin to delightful”or
“ecstatic.”God made the world and everything in the world then essentially said –over and over –“Wow! Take a look at THAT!”(Genesis 1:3-31).
God made man from the ground, and made woman from man; both were created in the image of God. God made man and woman to have a symbiotic relationship with God’s creation. Creation was a gift of natural abundance, and in God’s abundance, God provided man with both food (Genesis 1:29-30) and meaningful work (Genesis 2:15). God entrusted Adam with taking care of creation, even gives him the task of naming the creatures. Man’s relationship with creation was to be one of intimate care and responsible stewardship, not dominance and irresponsibility. (Genesis 2:19-20).
Man’s first place, our first home, was a garden which God prepared for us. The garden wasn’t engineered by us and our plows and our tractors and complex social organizations, but by the hand of the Lord. This garden was man’s home, our first community, where we lived in peace with creation, each other, and God (Genesis 3:8).
God’s first commandment to man, even before the commandment NOT to eat of the fruit of the Tree of Good and Evil, was to “Be fruitful and increase in number, fill the earth and subdue it.”(Genesis 1:28-29) This is God’s pattern for our interaction with creation:
- Be fruitful
- Fill the Earth/ Scatter
- Subdue/Take care of
This pattern pops up again Genesis 9 when God blesses Noah and instructs them, and again in Jeremiah 29:4-7 when the exiles are told: “Build houses and settle down; plant gardens and eat what they produce. Marry and have sons and daughters; find wives for your sons and give your daughters in marriage, so that they too might have sons and daughters. Increase in number there; do not decrease. Also, seek the peace and prosperity of the city to which I have carried you into exile. Pray to the Lord for it, because if it prospers, you too will prosper.”
When God spoke to God’s children, it was often under trees, by rivers, or through nature itself. When God’s followers worshiped, they often used trees, unhewn stones, and beautiful wood. God’s Word is full of poetry and metaphor where rocks cry out, mountains bow down, and trees clap for joy. Jesus speaks of Solomon, the only king to experience the peak of Israel’s success as a united kingdom, by saying “Consider how the lilies grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you, not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed as one of these.”In other words, one flower is more splendid than the king of Israel’s glory! God’s word is full of God being delighted with creation and using creation to draw us to God.
Creation is the Lord’s and God is glorified through it, and through our care of it! But as humans we have lost our sense of place on the land. We’ve come far from the dust and the dirt and have forgotten our original home was a garden. As we’ve lost our sense of place, we’ve lost our sense of responsibility and careful stewardship of this abundant creation that God made for us. We have suffered, and creation itself has suffered at our hands, too.
Romans 8:19-22 says “Creation waits in eager expectation for the sons of God to be revealed. For creation was subjected to frustration, not by its own choice, but by the will of the one who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the glorious freedom of the children of God. We know that the whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time.”
Nature has been a victim of our sin and pride and selfishness and pursuit of civilization. Nature is waiting for freedom from its bondage to decay and entropy, which will come when human beings are unmasked and act in their true destiny as the children of God! Nature shares the stress and anxiety we feel as we are waiting for redemption. Redemption is the Lord’s. But as His children on earth, we can take care of His creation and follow His pattern for living in relationship with it.
Plow Creek Fellowship seeks to lead a community marked by care for all of God’s creation –soil, plants, trees, livestock, water, air, and our fellow man. We can worship God through our care of creation, the ministry of farming, and an active message of reconciling man and woman to creation.
We do thus by:
- Honoring God as the Creator of all giving him glory as Creator.
- Delighting in creation as God did when he finished creation.
- Knowing that both men and women are created in the image of God.
- Being fruitful in both marriage and singleness.
- Meditating on God’s love and faithfulness through abundance, variety, and fruitfulness in his creation.
- Caring for that part of creation for which God has made us responsible.
- Humbly working with rather than abusing creation in the place God has planted us.
- Co-creating with God through work, art, order, word, dance, worship and music for his glory.
- Recognizing that God is Lord of people and place.
- Col 1:16b Everything got started in him and finds it’s purpose in him.
- Isa. 44: 2 I am your Creator. You were in my care before you were born.
- 2 Cor. 4: 18 So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.
- Romans 11:36 Everything comes from God alone. Everything lives by his power and everything is for his glory.
- Col 1:13-14 God delivered us from darkness and brought us into the kingdom of His beloved Son in whom we have redemption and the forgiveness of sins.
- Psalm 50:23 He who offers a sacrifice of thanksgiving honors Me
- Psalm 51: 17 The sacrifice of a broken and contrite heart, O God, Thou wilt not despise.
- Deuteronomy 26: 12
- Psalm 103:6
- Jonah 4:1-11
- Matthew 5:43-48
- Matthew 6: 1-4, 12-15
- Matthew 7:1-5, 12
- Matthew 28: 18-20
- Matthew 18: 15-35
- I Corinthians 12:4-7
- Galatians 3:28
- Galatians 6:1
Reconciling with Self
Scriptures related to self, emotional health, and self-care (not exhaustive):
- James 1:3-8; 4:7-10, 17; 5:16
- Psalm 51:1-19; Psalm 139:1-24
- Hebrews 12:1-2
- Proverbs 9:10; 8-9; 12:25
- Romans 8:1-12; 5:10-11; 14:12-13
- Luke 6:37; 17:11-19
- John 3:16-18; 8:11
- 1 John 3:21; 4:18
- 2 Corinthians 5:21
- 1 Peter 2:25; 5:7
- Galatians 6:2
- Philippians 4:6-9
- Matthew 5:4
- 2 Corinthians 1:3-4
- Mark 1:35-45; 2:1-5; 10:17-22
Reconciling with Creation
Scriptures related to creation (not exhaustive!):
- Genesis 1:1 – 9:29; Genesis12:1-6; Genesis 28:16-17
- Exodus 20:24
- I Kings 5:6-8; 13-15
- II Kings 19:8- 28
- Isaiah 2:1-6, 12, 16; 14; 35:1; 37:21-23; 40:3; 44; 65:22
- Jeremiah 9:10, Jeremiah 29:4-7
- Psalm 80:8-11; 104:16; 25:12
- Hosea 14:5-7
- Ezekiel 27: 2,6,27; 31:3-6
- Zechariah 11:1
- Amos 2:9
- Matthew 3:3
- Mark 4:32
- Luke 12:27
- Romans 8:19-22
- Revelation 22:2