My life is about to change in what I hope is a drastic way.
I am about to move into a house with five other people. This in and of itself is not a new thing in my life, as I have lived with large groups of people a number of times. What is new is the way in which we are to live together.
The six of us, two married couples, and two single men (myself included) are forming an intentional community.
What is an intentional community?
Here's one way to think about it: It is a group of people who have made a commitment to live with one another as a community. People who will not just reside at the same address, but open themselves to each other. People that try to understand community as a complex relationship where we are to treat each other with respect, dignity, accountability, trust and love.
Another way: An intentional community is attempting to come at living with others from a different perspective than is usually taught in western culture. Perhaps humans were never supposed to be understood as pure individuals who must try as best they can to interact with each other for the sake of survival. Maybe we were created to be in community with one another, to share our strengths and our weaknesses. To lean on or support each other when needed. To hold each other to account.
When I read scripture I get an overwhelming sense of community. The early church of Acts shared everything they had with one another, and no one went without. The disciples were a group of twelve, living, learning and teaching together, trying to makes sense of the son of God in their presence. The people of Israel were a nation, moving as one with many who communed with God. In the scripture who one is is bound up in the people they come from and the people they are with.
When you are not just living for just yourself but instead living for others few needs go unmet. Think of it this way; when you are living for only yourself you have one person looking out for you. When you are living for one another with five other people you have six people looking out for you.
I am not convinced we are to try and live in this world on our own, and I'm quite sure I could not do it if I tried. We are in need of others to survive, physically certainly, but also emotionally and spiritually.
Now, this one view, my own. There are as many views as people living in intentional communities, and there are a few of them.
There is another term for the experiment of intentional community, New Monasticism. A number of years ago a group of intentional communities in the U.S.A. got together to discuss what they had been doing. They came up with the name of New Monasticism and wrote a document called the Twelve Marks of New Monasticism. I will not go into much detail here but only say that I quite like this term. It makes obvious the link to a history of community living, bounds us up in a history. Look for future posts to go in depth in the Twelve Marks and what the New Monastics are up to.
This is merely an introduction to an exciting and partially terrifying new adventure in my life. I plan to use this blog as a place to talk about what we are doing and why. In the future I will write about the document we have created called a living covenant. I will write about the practical specifics of living with five other people. I will write about our lives together and our lives separately, but for now I want to end with some of my personal reasons for doing this.
What I hope to happen for myself is to learn to live better. As I look around me I see a world broken. Our planet is being destroyed with frightening speed and deliberateness. People treat each other as disposable, only valuable so far as they can appease our own pleasures. How much stuff we can attain has become the barometer for how much worth we have. People act towards each other with fear and hate and suspicion. I do not want to live my life by these principles, but I don't always know how to get away from them.
I want to learn to live a life of love and trust, of understanding and faithfulness.
My hope is that by dedicating myself to a community committed to these same things I will come that much closer to attaining them.
I do believe that Christ called us to lives of faithfulness. Every aspect of our life should come from a place of faith, from our reactions to war to doing the dishes. But what does a faithful approach to dishes look like? Well, that's what we're hopefully going to find out.