Reflection on Christian Community

This is a reflection by Jack Towe, a man in the church his whole life who in his 60s set off to learn more about Christian intentional community.  In the past year, he has lived in five Christian communities: The Bruderhof in the Hudson River Valley, Jesus People USA in Uptown Chicago, Reba Place in Evanston, Illinois, Seattle’s Union Gospel Mission, and Damascus Home in Everett, Washington.  These thoughts grew out of his experiences there. 


Understanding Christian Community

Each community has shown different ways in which Christians can grow together. So, I compiled the list below. None of the items are imaginary. I’m writing as a reporter of what I’ve seen—not only in the five communities above—but with Victory Outreach, with work crews, nuns, congregational groups, and in the small gathering at my home in Cincinnati,

Christians living together in the same facility miss out on Christian community, unless—

We are all motivated by following Scripture, Jesus’ example, and the leading of the Holy Spirit. This is our toughest learning, along with learning to love each other with self-sacrificing (agape) love.

We all eat together for at least one meal a day.

We daily worship, praise, and pray to our LORD together, along with a teaching.

Every member has an accountability partner or a spiritual director.

Members get to know each other in depth by sharing their testimonies.

Regarding significant matters, do nothing without asking.

Regular Bible study is a challenge, with each person thoroughly prepared. We meet in small groups, with full participation in discussion. Usually, we use the case method, as is done in graduate schools of law, business, and medicine.

Each member—including children and teens—has the opportunity to meet Jesus personally, be baptized in the Holy Spirit, and learns to be a dedicated witness for Jesus.

Going in pairs, we are in regular contact with our neighbors—assisting them when possible and, when appropriate, introducing them to Jesus and joining with them in discipleship. That is, we do our part in the Great Commission. Matthew 28:19.

Ordinary conversation topics include Jesus, Scripture, miracles, and the LORD’s leadings  

Living in community, we continually irritate each other. So, it is essential that we do not let the sun go down on our anger. Daily we need to confess our frustrations to each other, ask to be forgiven, and be reconciled in the LORD.. Mostly, however, we learn to live with and even appreciate each other’s idiosyncrasies.

The most obvious way to show self-sacrificing agape love is to listen to each other. Really listen.

When a brother or sister has a problem, we hear it fully. We seek the guidance of the Holy Spirit for appropriate responses. We pray together for the LORD to deal with the problem.

We regularly experience miracles—including healing, deliverance, and the LORD's miraculous solutions to problems with relationships, finances, oppression, and blocked opportunities.

We pray for Holy boldness and the LORD’s direction to speak the truth with love in witnessing, rebuking, correcting, and encouraging.

Together we go to the LORD with impossible prayer requests in line with God’s will—the kind of prayers He delights in answering.

One of the hardest tasks we face is having fun together because we each have fun in different ways. So, we use any occasion to celebrate together.

The community is equipped effectively to respond to neighbors’ needs in times of crisis, including fires, floods, desertion, refugee resettlement, total poverty, killings, and other tragedies. As the community grows, we could respond to selected crises in the city, the nation, and the world.

We bless each other with acts of self-sacrificing agape love—some major, and many small ones.

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