Exploring Riza's theology and practice of community
For many Christians it would not be a turning point in their lives if they decided, one day, to stop praying tomorrow, to leave off going to church next Sunday... their lives would continue according to the very same social rules, norms, styles of behavior, and models as before. Nothing would change. because, long before that, their faith already would have become unworldly, inconsequential, and ultimately futile. It was, in fact, not faith at all. Where faith is really faith it cannot be shoved to the margins of life.
The foundation of our pursuit and practice of community is Christian Scripture and tradition. We believe that our faith is integrally tied to the practice of community.
The message of the New Testament is not one of merely individualized, personal salvation. It is a message of salvation for the entirety of God's creation, for all of human life, and for all of us both individually and corporately. When we choose to follow Jesus we are entering into his Kingdom community - where we must live for God's glory with the fellowship of believers.
Contextualizing for Today
We might be called to gospel community just like the first century church, but we certainly don't live in the culture of the first century. For that reason, it takes work and effort on our part to discern how to manifest Kingdom community in our time and place.
We also face different obstacles to the practice of community than the early church. We live in one of the most disconnected, lonely, individualistic cultures in all of human history. Not only are we not practiced in the ways and skills necessary for good community to flourish, we even lack many of the simple social structures that make deep community possible. While early believers naturally organized around extended households of 20-40 people, we as modern Americans live much more isolated and individualistic lives.
Riza creates local, neighborhood-based communities in order to provide a context similar to what the early church enjoyed, so that believer's lives can take root together and bear fruit in community.
The Practice of Riza Communities
We come alongside the local church and create kingdom communities that seek to embody the way of Jesus, combining the public worship of churches and the home-based spirituality of local believers in the way early Christians did. Our practice is rooted in prayer, community and compassion.
We root ourselves in the presence of God through the practice of contemplative prayer.
We embrace steadfast commitments to one another, growing in Spirit-filled love in the soil of everyday life.
We seek a life of compassionate justice, serving our neighborhood and the foster care community.
The Neighborhood Village
Riza creates neighborhood based intentional communities, where believers live within walking distance of each other. This connected "village" within the neighborhood is the place of localized community, prayer, and compassion.
The response to war is to live like brothers and sisters. The response to injustice is to share. The response to despair is a limitless trust and hope. The response to prejudice and hatred is forgiveness. To work for community is to work for humanity. To work for peace is to work for a true political solution; it is to work for the Kingdom of God. It is to work to enable every one to live and taste the secret joys of the human person united to the eternal.