An Ascetical and Evangelistic Church
As mentioned in a previous post, the Faith includes the practice of Church. The Christian life is a way of life. Thus, there are ways of being, practices and disciplines, which are germane to the spiritual life. There is, if you will, an art and science to living the Christian life. I’m speaking of monastic discipline and Benedictine spirituality both of which are interconnected and have had a profound impact on Anglicanism.
An ascetic life then is one which cooperates with grace through mortification, the building up of virtue, participation in the liturgical and sacramental life of the Church, prayer and devotion, among other things. There is in this way of life an attachment to the age to come and a detachment from this present age. But such ‘separation’ is not opposed to mission. On the contrary it is the impetus for it. Such a life, a life devoted to Christ and empowered by the Spirit, is profoundly evangelistic and missional. For it is only when we refuse to the love the world in the 1 John 2:15 sense (e.g. mankind in rebellion to God) that we can truly love the world in the John 3:16 sense (e.g. mankind made in God's image for whom Christ died).
The Church that is to be useful to God and a blessing to men must above all things be a spiritual Church…we need a true conversion ourselves; such a conversion as will make us place first the adoration of God for His own sake, and will create in our hearts a longing desire for spiritual growth. It has often been said that the greatest need in the extension of the Kingdom of God is not of more Christians, but of better Christians.
P.F. Harton, The Elements of the Spiritual Life