Living Communally

7 08 2008

“Roomies Rock!” is an often heard phrase as I feel continually blessed by the experience of living with others.

A little over a year ago we started living with a young couple in our community.  It was such an evident blessing and so successful others in our community began to do the same.  My wife and I were reflecting on this sudden trend when we realized that every family with kids in our entire community is now living communally.  Some have bought houses for this purpose others have finished (or refinished) their basements and we’re all experiencing wonderful blessings from it.  But wait, before you try this at home, allow me to outline the elements I feel has really made this work for us and for many of our friends.

  • Same 100% commitment to Jesus as Lord.  All have gone through our Story-Formed Life discipleship training which deeply tests our foundational beliefs particularly if we are living a life surrendered to Jesus as Lord.  Living with others when you are all serving the SAME master works but even if everyone calls themselves a Christian, if they are serving another master things could get ugly.
  • Same Christian culture – Our community has a very strong, unified culture that includes weekly rhythms, holidays and common values.
  • Deep Appreciation for Diversity – Our community is universally obsessed with the MBTI (Myers-Briggs Type Indicator) not so we can label each other’s personality and discount one another but so that we can love each other.  This goes way beyond the 5 love languages.  We study the personality type of those who live with us.  What happens when 3 extroverts are living with 1 introvert?  What happens when one J (structured and clean) lives with 3 Ps (values freedom and spontaneity).  We study each other’s personalities for the purpose of honoring each other and openly discussing possible issues early.
  • Household Meetings – Once per week we meet and ask questions to draw out issues before they become a problem
  • Serve Together – For us church happens in our homes multiple days of the week (The Gathering, Discipleship Trainings, Sabbath Meal, etc.)  We want to aggressively practice hospitatlity but that can be a lot of work.  Having a team of 4 who works together and mixing young marrieds without kids (or just 1) with larger families creates a balanced team.
  • Strong Household Heads – When you have a highly trained and motivated father/elder at the head of every household who is dedicated to building a Christ-centered household they set a stable tone that skillfully handles the complexities of communal living.

So what are other blessings to this arrangement?

  • Deeper discipleship – Living life together causes many more discipleship opportunties where iron sharpens iron.
  • More adults training kids – My kids best friends are usually the couple who lives with us.  What better friends can they have than committed mature disciples who love them and love to play their silly games.
  • Sharing the physical burden -“When I cook you clean” is the best thing that ever happened to my evenings.
  • Creating a Common Space – This is huge.  When people live with one another an area of the house (usually the kitchen and family room) become common space which greatly increases the number of others who feel free to stop by and hang out in your common space creating a more daily life together as a community.
  • Fostering body life – In our culture of radical individualism we are desperately trying to find a way to live life like a 1 Cor. 12 body that is interdependent and demonstrates radical love and service. Living communally brings you instantly into that interdependent life and reshapes you from an obsessive individualist to one who loves to live for others.
  • Showing the world the redeemed community – “They will know you are my disciples by the way you love each other”.  Our neighbors get to see first hand the love we have for one another.  Many of them cannot imagine living with another family in a peaceful blessed way.  They’re having a hard enough time living with their spouse.  This demonstrates the real power of the Gospel.
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3 responses

8 08 2008
Keri

Lots of benefits you’ve listed there for living in your household….. You forgot to mention your fabulous pool…. Ok.. I’m moving in next. Put me on the waiting list 🙂

12 08 2008
Michelle Eastman

I LOVE it!

But only because you all approach it with intelligence and realistic expectatios rather than the “We love Jesus yes we do, we love Jesus so we will love YOU” approach. (we have seen disasters of families together because they went in with fantasies rather then truth and reality)

Again, I LOVE it!

14 08 2008
eden2zion

Thanks Michelle,

Yes, you can’t be an idealist or hopeless optimist when you approach communal living. You have to understand what a significant challenge it is and develop realistic and effective tools that will cause you to thrive (not just survive) in a communal living situation.

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