Core Values and Practices

Living Stones Community has four core values which define us as a community and by which we orient our lives. These values represent a commitment to God's spirit, a commitment to people in and outside our community, and a commitment to the Christian scriptures. In addition, we also share an understanding of the importance of regular concrete practices for living out these values, and we share a commitment to growing in such practices. Our three core practices are silent prayer, praying the scriptures, and spiritual dialogue. While numerous other spiritual disciplines—attendance at Worship, Bible Study, Christian Service, etc.—are valuable and necessary, and while we as individuals definitely practice other key spiritual disciplines, for us these three practices are core aspects of practicing our faith that identify us as a community. Through growing into regular practice of them we seek to develop a stable in-depth awareness of and responsiveness to God and others. As we grow, both as individuals and as a community, we leave open the possibility of adding these practices fully to our annual commitment.

The daily dynamics of ordinary life are the proving place of the validity and value of these core values and practices. The proof of the worth of our contemplative life-orientation is our growth in manifesting the Fruit of the Spirit in everyday life—love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control (Gal. 5:22-23). We seek to live a life that is grounded in the unfolding action of the Spirit and that is an expression of the Spirit’s action, a life marked by mutual loving support that says yes to presence, availability, and vulnerability to God and to others.


Spirit. Our primary core value is a commitment to developing a contemplative dimension to our spirituality in which we desire to “worship God in spirit and truth,” as Jesus states in John 4:24. For us this means recognizing the spiritual realm as the center of our lives and giving God priority there. Our spiritual relationship and responsiveness to God takes precedence over thinking about God or having feelings about God. God is greater than our thoughts, images, and emotions. We believe that prayer is fundamentally being in relationship with God and abiding in Christ, and we seek a silent, loving intimacy with God as the central dimension of that relationship.

Community. Our second core value is a commitment to developing community and to loving others. We believe that a deeply loving intimacy with God results in loving our neighbor. Love means being fully present to others and seeking to bless them in concrete ways. It means not projecting onto others nor being mindlessly reactive to them.  For us humility and kindness are key aspects of love.

Scripture. Our third core value is a commitment to the Bible. We seek first and foremost to have a prayerful relationship with the Scriptures. Certainly we practice Bible study and engage Bible teaching, but for us our primary way of relating to the Bible is spiritual. We believe the Bible is the inspired Word of God. We seek spirit to spirit communion with God in and through the Scriptures.

Growth in practice. Beyond participation in our blog, as described below, there are no particular spiritual practices required for membership in our community. However, a final core value that we share as a community is an understanding of the importance of regular spiritual practices for actualizing our other contemplative core values in our daily lives. These may include silent prayer, praying the scriptures, meditative walks, sacred reading, the use of prayer beads and so on. As a community that is still young, we share in common the understanding that we will aim towards growing in regularity in one or more concrete contemplative practices in our personal lives. The core practices to which we commit to growth in are silent prayer, praying the scriptures, and spiritual dialogue as explained below.


Silent prayer. By this, we mean a regular practice of contemplative, meditative prayer that is present and open to God beyond thoughts, words, emotions, and images. We believe this kind of prayer is an exercise in pure faith. It is practice in making God the center of our lives. It does not replace other kinds of prayer—praise, intercession, petition, etc.—but it helps to develop a depth of awareness and purity of heart for the practice of other kinds of prayer and for life. Examples of Contemplative Prayer practices include Centering, the Jesus Prayer, and Christian Meditation. We recommend Open Mind, Open Heart by Thomas Keating as a core text for introducing one approach of silent prayer that we find particularly helpful and practical.

Praying the Scriptures. We pray with and through the scriptures adapting the ancient method of lectio divina which in its simplest sense consists of meditative, contemplative spiritual reading. Traditionally, lectio divina has been an individual practice, something often done informally before silent prayer. When we have the opportunity to, however, we also practice it in as a group. One of us leads the session, which has four parts, by reading aloud and inviting responses. After each reading, we pause in silence for a minute, and then respond in the following ways. First reading, we note a word or phrase that stands out to us. Second, we express a personal reflection or response to the passage. Third, we express a simple prayer that arises in our hearts through the reading. And finally, we sit in silence for several minutes, seeking to rest in and commune with the Spirit who speaks through the Scriptures. This practice involves intentional, skillful humility and vulnerability. The intention in this practice is to be fully open and present to the Scriptures, to the Spirit, and—when formalized for practice in a group setting—to one another. As a core text on this practice, we recommend Thelma Hall’s Too Deep for Words: Rediscovering Lectio Divina.

Spiritual dialogue. By spiritual dialogue we mean dialogue between people that is radically open to God and to one another. It is dialogue that does not try to get things done but instead seeks to be fully present to one another and to God in the present moment, to the unfolding of his life in our lives in the present moment. While we desire to bring this kind of dynamic into our everyday lives, we set aside special times with one another for this practice, recognizing that much of life does require getting things done. This practice also involves intentional, skillful humility and vulnerability. Though we meet face-to-face occasionally and have discussions voice-to-voice on the phone when we can, our blog is the primary connection our community members have with each other and our community’s primary venue for spiritual dialogue. Our members commit to reading the community blog and to posting or commenting on the posts of other members regularly. We recommend reading The Way of the Heart by Henri Nouwen or some of the works on our resource reading list as core texts for spiritual dialogue.

While readings aren’t included in our community commitment, beyond reading the blog entries written by other members, as a community we hold several lists of texts because books are useful for forming spiritual culture and for spiritual dialogue. The first list is a handful of books we find closely related to our core values, those mentioned in the preceding paragraphs. Our members are only encouraged to read these books over time. The other list we keep is an ongoing collaborative resource project of suggested readings relevant to our ongoing dialogue and core values. Members are encouraged to add to this secondary list as they come across suitable books and essays.

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