Friday, September 15, 2006

Acts 2 Communal Living

What is the most natural element around which relationally-connected communities form?

Opinions differ, but all seem to flow from the primary notion of commonality. Activities (significant & insignificant), interests (profound & superficial), circumstances (past & present), & relationships (favorable & unfavorable) seem the prevalent expressions of commonality. But which is the most central element for cultivating relationally-connected communities? Which is the element without which efforts in building such a community would be most frustrated?

I wonder if the most primary element for naturally forging relationally-connected communities (not just relationships, but communities) might be common space, i.e. physical proximity... specifically that common space around one's home.

In his book, The Connecting Church, Randy Frazee writes, "it's time for church leaders to take a long, hard look at the negative effects of the suburb on the deveopment of the biblical community." He goes onto list some characteristics of naturally (vs. artificially) formed community, including 1) spontaneity, 2) availability, 3) frequency, & 4) common meals... all made possible in greatest measure by a common geography. Frazee sums it all up with this, "The simple fact is that in all places of effective community, people live in close proximity to each other - & the closer the better!"

Could this be part of the reason Jesus instructed His disciples in Matthew 10:11, "...whatever city or village you enter, inquire who is worthy in it, and stay at his house (not an inn) until you leave that city." ?

Thread: Values


John Lynch said...

I wonder if this question helps... Why do we live with our spouse? If there is a relational benefit to sharing the same "home" space with our families, then might not the same principle apply to other relationships? What relational limitations would we experience if we lived next door or down the street or across town from our spouse? Might not the same limitations & obstacles apply to the general principle of community?

hockerfamily said...

This is one of the predicaments facing those ministering in the Scottsdale area. Most of us can't afford to live close to our church community. I intentionally purchased a smaller, older house so that I could be closer. I knew how important it was to live in my community.

Likewise, with a church body spread out across such a large city it can be difficult to get people together for fellowship and ministry. It can be a challenge just to meet up with a student for coffee because we live 10 miles apart.

No doubt community and relationships will be stronger when the people live closer together but I guess the question is, what can we do about that? People live where they live.

John Lynch said...

I LOVE this comment, Brad! Especially hauntingly poignant last few lines: "No doubt community and relationships will be stronger when the people live closer together but I guess the question is, what can we do about that? People live where they live."

So here's my question to all of us in the missional Body of Christ... Why not move?

You (Brad) & Kristina made a very cool sacrifice - living in a smaller, older house - because you felt you were gaining more than you were losing... Not dissimilar to Paul's conviction in Phlp 3:8, "I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things."

So, do you think a vision of living within walking distance of your best & soon-to-be best friends is compelling enough for people to pick up & move? Or beyond the self-gain of it, do you think the radically increased missional potential of doing life & ministry in that kind of close community would be compelling enough for those who are hungry to see Christ change more lives thru them?

Nuts & Bolts: Several of us are renting & will soon be ready to move & buy. Others have gained enough equity to minimize the sacrifice they'd be making in selling their existing home & purchasing another home. Still others are saavy enough to turn a profit on two properties, renting their old/existing home out. And still others might simply choose to bite the bullet on selling a house only owned a few years or less if the Lord so leads. What if the Lord led 6 to 12 spiritually mature, mission-minded families to relocate into, say, a 1-mile radius area somewhere in Scottsdale / Tempe? How much of our lost world could we reach like that? How much of our own craving for family-style community could we finally satisfy? How Acts 2 would that be?

hockerfamily said...

If I specific ministry opportunity was tugging at my heart I wouldn't hesitate to relocate.

But I wonder: with Christians pretty well spread out across the United States does it make sense for us to all start relocating? I love the idea of being missional and really engaging our local community… but I’m concerned about abandoning my local community. Perhaps we should be looking for people locally who share our passion for the unbelieving world. Maybe we should be looking to inspire and spread this passion into the Christians around us in order to be more effective in more communities.

John Lynch said...

Yeah! Right on Brad!

Our country & our world need millions of missional community-in-proximity groups like this. Relocating oneself to establish a team-proximity is one route. Casting the vision to potential teammates already around us is another route!

I suspect, however, that this vision is so radically different from typical American culture that it will be difficult to find missional, team-minded Christ-followers to join with in proximity like that. I know of some "domestic missionaries" who have planted themselves & worked to build a local team, only to find there was no team to build.

Despite the potential difficulty of it, however, I do think you're on to a wonderful & important method for this madness to take root!