1Do not grant newcomers to the monastic life an easy entry.As most of you know, by today's standards getting into the early church, let alone a monastic community, wasn't an easy affair. In the early church people went through a two to three year training and internship in the faith before their baptism and being welcomed into the community. By contrast, in many churches today you join by filling out a card and dropping it into a plate.
Such practices blur the distinctions between the labels "Christian," "member of the church," and "disciple." These should all mean the same thing. But they don't, leading to a lot of confusion and scorn. That is, we see lots of people call themselves "Christian" or claim to be a "member of the church" but who aren't disciples of Jesus, who don't follow his cruciform lifestyle. And so aspersions are cast upon so-called "Christians."
In a related way, this is the chronic problem faced by every church leader. How do you get a crowd of people who are merely affiliated with the church ("the members") engage in the hard work of discipleship? The general practice is to let just about anybody "join" the church and then, once they are "in," to tempt them into various ministries or venues where spiritual growth can occur.
The early church worked with a different model, making the first steps toward discipleship prerequisites for admission. They worked with Benedict's rule: Do not grant newcomers to the church an easy entry.