What is Simple Living?
Shifting From Consumer Living To Simple Living
God Is In The Details
Our Spiritual Lives
Community: How We Live Together
Eating Well and Staying Healthy
What We Buy
Taking Action for Justice and Creation
Simple living is the radical idea of
organizing our lives around Jesus’ mandate to love each other and
applying it to everything we do each day. This would mean
re-ordering our priorities based on a few simple principles:
By following these principles, we reduce the burden we place on God’s people and his creation, and we re-focus our lives on sustaining people, communities, and the earth. As Gandhi said, we “live simply, so that others might simply live.”
Be warned: this is not for the faint-of-heart! It takes knowledge, skill, effort, and commitment, and we may be ridiculed or attacked by others. Few of us in 21st Century America want to hear about the problems we are causing, much less do anything about them, so many people will resent our way of living and try to stop us.
So if you begin to live authentically and simply, some folks might think you are an extremist, unpatriotic, or at least an economic ignoramus. And if you go on to become an out-spoken advocate for Christian simple living, you may lose some friends, but you'll also gain some great new ones!
One other important thing:
Please don't take any or all of these
principles as a litmus test or an exercise in political correctness.
We should not judge each other in terms of the rigor of our
simplicity practices or our faith practices because this would
merely be a new legalism which Jesus preached against.
Rather, we should see what we do together in our daily lives in
light of love, compassion, empathy, and an eagerness to be helpful
to each other as a part of "Kingdom Living."
And, as a practical matter, we can drive ourselves and others crazy if we constantly obsess over the details. We sometimes get seduced into spending time trying to decide which of three or four different alternatives would save the most resources, time, or money, or result in the least pollution when in reality the difference may be microscopic. It is sometimes better to focus on the big changes that we are sure will result in meaningful outcomes. The biggest issue for all of us that will make the greatest difference to people around the world and the earth as a whole is to buy and use much less of everything, every day - pretty simple, and very effective!
step is to make a realistic assessment of our daily living values to
see if they are really in sync with Jesus' teachings about how we
should value money, things, position, our families, and other
people. Obviously we should be valuing people and their needs far
above having a large salary, lots of stuff, or a 'convenient' life.
This is easier said than done for most of us. But without having
made this emotional values-shift, it is hard to live simply because
we spend a lot of time rationalizing-away many of our habitual
self-interested consumer behaviors so that we don't really have to
change much in the end.
Once we have really made the shift from our values to Jesus', the rest is very intuitive. We can then begin to live more simply...
… the thoughtless purchase, use, and discarding of all those things we don’t really need in the first place. Instead, we can:
And By Starting
… to use our time and money focusing, instead, on truly important things like nourishing relationships with our families and communities, serving those who need our help, and working harder for justice, here and abroad.
This, after all, is the point of the Gospel - loving and caring for others rather than manipulating the world, its people, and its resources, so we can have an easier life..
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If you’re still with us …
The idea is to replace our more destructive habits with healthier,
more mindful practices that are consistent with Jesus' teachings.
'Replacing' is important, because just adding new practices to our
already busy routines can quickly overload us, making it harder to
For example, adding extra trips to organic food stores, local community-supported farms, and preparing healthier meals while still driving 2 hours to work every day and working overtime, can cause you a lot of grief. But, if you were able to move closer to your job and eliminate the long commute you could add these new, improved activities without so much strain.
For an overview of practical steps you can take to live more responsibly with the planet take a look at The New Community Project's Three-Step Plan. This list covers some of the issues that should be addressed on the way to a rewarding and productive simple life.
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Without a strong spiritual life our simple living efforts are likely
to be no more effective or long lasting than secular environmental,
social justice, and simplicity programs. There is a much more important
point to Christian simple living than merely cleaning-up the environment
and being socially conscious.
We live this way because Christ taught that we are to live beyond ourselves and for others. This is what he meant by saying that the Kingdom is near – we are a part of it today, when we work with him in its creation.
The first step in Christian simple living is to invest in a regular practice of study, meditation, and prayer that will give us the energy and direction we need to succeed at this. It makes everything else possible!
READ MORE about, and find great resources for building a strong spiritual life to empower our simple living.
Having a spiritually supportive community around
us that is invested in living simply is extremely helpful. It not only
helps keep us energized, supported, and pointed in the right direction,
it also improves the efficiency and quality of our lives and our world.
Living simply can be more easily and efficiently done in a close
If we live close to our jobs, churches, extended families, and friends, we can significantly reduce our energy use and environmental degradation. We drive a lot less and share tools and appliances instead of maintaining our own personal treasure troves of gadgets.
For many of us, having this kind of community may mean having to create one from like-minded folks within our congregations or local communities. It’s sometimes surprising how many folks there are who would really like to do this, given the opportunity.
READ MORE on the role of community in living simply
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Our homes should be the first place where we
practice the Christian principle of not harming others – by reducing our
negative impact on the planet and each other right where we live. Our
We are over-eating (the wrong things) and getting
too little exercise – all in the name of modern comfort and financial
success. Two-thirds of the U.S. is considered to be either overweight
or obese; we are in the middle of a diabetes epidemic, and heart
disease, stroke, and cancer (all at least partially behaviorally caused)
are the leading causes of death in this country.
Clearly we are not loving ourselves, and we are enabling our neighbors in their addiction to this vicious circle as well. A simple living approach views these problems as a systems problem that each of us can address by doing a number of things.
Here's how to do it: