Community works when we enjoy spending time together. This means we aren’t always hiving off to our bedrooms but perhaps sitting downstairs and reading a book. We need to make meal times a focal point of sharing our hearts and enjoying each other, switching off from the business of other things and giving time to build relationships and family.
I have found that, in community, the important thing is to face issues and find God within them. We have a responsibility to each other of care and accountability, and helping one another on with our next step in God.
I’m very grateful because community has enabled me to embrace celibacy. I felt called to celibacy before I joined the Jesus Fellowship but I only met unmarried middle-aged ladies and I didn’t want to be like them. Shortly after I moved into community I made a celibate vow, in 1976. I have found that living with children and families in community makes us more rounded as celibates and enriches life. On the other hand, I don’t feel insecure if everyone is out and I’m on my own!
Sometimes we can become familiar with each other and settle for ‘sameness’ in our living together. Community, in the beginning for me, was adventurous, exciting and wonderful. It appealed to the adventurous soul.
The danger for us these days is that the excitement of the adventure is not there. We’ve set it up. We can lose our fear of God and sense of His awesomeness. We can make the mistake of asking, ‘what’s in it for me?’ – an attitude so prevalent in today’s culture.
The common purse is an amazing jewel; we lose our financial independence and have to trust each other. Without sharing our money we couldn’t have bought our Jesus Centres!
I’ve got faith for the future of our church – we (including my generation) need openness to fresh expressions of community and ways of doing things. Perhaps we can follow models like the Antioch Community in London, who buy houses in the same neighbourhood and share meals together.
Perhaps in the future we will not have such big houses but have extended families; this may fit in better with today’s culture. Living in small houses makes it easier for us to be more missional in the sense of being involved with the neighbourhood. However, I do love big community! Whatever we do, the excitement of the adventure – the call to ‘one heart and soul’ – needs keeping fresh in our hearts.
What inspires you about communal life?
What’s your story of how you entered community?
Do you have any ideas about new forms of community, whether outlandish or sane?
Leave a comment below.