Groote’s legacy was two quite distinct types of communities. The first was the movement known as the “Brethren of the Common Life.” The Brethren – who were mainly lay – devoted themselves to religious exercises, the quest for personal renewal by reflecting on the person of Christ, manual work, and service to others. Many scholars have described the Brethren of the Common Life as “practical mystics,” in that their concern for personal union with God was linked with their efforts to reform the church through educating young people and instructing the laity in the basics of the Christian faith. This led to the Brethren developing an emphasis on education – either through founding schools and colleges of their own in the Lowlands, Germany, and France, or through members becom- ing teachers at existing institutions run by other religious communities.
The second type of community that resulted from Groote’s ministry followed a more traditional monastic model. The monasteries established by his followers were grouped in the congregation of Windesheim, which became a major center for monastic reform. By 1500, just under one hundred monasteries had links with the movement, sharing its emphasis on a deep and personal religious experience and faith, combined with biblical and theological learning.