I’ve lived in community* for 40 years, mostly in houses with over a dozen people. I have loved it (mostly), getting shot of personal wealth, finding who I am in the reality of living together, doing a ‘communism’ of love.
Love one another, deny yourself – it has to mean community in some form for all Christians doesn’t it? Caring, sharing, being a new creation family; isn’t that church? And isn’t living in intentional Christian community the answer for all?
Well, it depends what you mean by community. Making one form of community special, a higher way, a different category, a special style of membership, can be a problem. That makes anyone else not quite ‘the full shilling’, by definition.
Add to that the limiting of community to meaning people sharing a big house together… It can be marvellous, but it also makes community a huge step away from ‘ordinary’ people, instead of being just one end of a long scale, from a Christian on their own through every shade of sharing life.
Issues arise with big house community: isolation, institution, a state-owned mentality and more. They can all be worked out with care, but the paradigm itself creates problems; it might be called a category error, a model limitation. Community must mean everyone, or else it can be elitist.
If we bolt down what we mean by community too hard and fast, we exclude the other models and the other people, and that version would not be the full shilling.
Community is love. Let’s keep working it out.
* For those used to a more general definition of community, I refer here to an ‘all things in common’ community of believers like Acts 2 and 4.