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Taking The Plunge

I often wonder what it would take to develop communities that live up to the Quaker ideal of being a gathered people. What if we truly prioritized our life together as disciples of Jesus? Rather than assuming that we would move to another city if offered a higher paying job, what if we submitted that decision to the community’s discernment? Maybe we could consider moving to live closer to one another, so that we’d see each other more easily during the week. We might even become more transparent about how we spend our time and money. Imagine what it would mean for us to truly be one body in Jesus! That’s the kind of community I want to live in.

Increasingly, however, I am convinced that this kind of radical, gathered community can only be established through the patient endurance of individuals who make the unilateral, unconditional decision to put the community first. These women and men dedicate themselves to the community before the community is even aware of itself, much less able to reciprocate this self-sacrificial commitment.

Often I have waited, longing for others willing to join me, to take the plunge into covenant community. I’ve thought, If there were just a few other people who were willing to help me start, then I’d go for it. But leadership means being willing to jump first, trusting that others will meet me in mid-air, and that God will direct our landing.

Have there been times when you were waiting around for others to take initiative on the work God was calling you to do? What gave you the courage to take the leap of faith first, trusting in God to provide? Have there been individuals in your life whose patient endurance and courageous leadership enabled you to join them in growing community in Jesus?

  • hugoestr

    Communal living is tough, and it runs against the individualist ideology of the U.S. Often those who are willing to give it a try don’t know how to do it correctly. And then those of us who have experienced communal living in some traditional manner are hesitant to go back to it because we are aware of the potential problems. That is probably why you haven’t found others who are willing to do it.

    And then most of us are afraid of being judged by others. One of the enjoyable things about adulthood is that we don’t have to check with others when making decisions. If you find the right personality combo, a covenant community may work out. However, if you get some incompatibility, it could be a great cause of strife.

    That said, I do hope that you can find others who share your goals.

  • Anne Haehl

    There are many things that a person could step forth and do alone. However, forming community does not seem to be one. That said, if you think this may be your calling, I’d suggest you visit other communities to learn about how such a place might work. My favorite is Jubilee Partners in Comer, GA, but there is Open Door and there are others. As the other comment says, communal living is tough.

  • Hi Anne and Hugo –

    I find it interesting that you both took my meaning here to be talking about an intentional community situation. While I wouldn’t rule out that intense form of community, I was actually just talking about a congregation, rather than a shared housing arrangement.

    Intentional community is probably a special calling, but it is my experience that God calls all of us into covenant community as we walk together in Jesus Christ.