The Calling to Christian Community

Christians are drawn to intentional community for a variety of reasons. Some have read books or articles about community, others may have met someone or visited a community. A few simply read the New Testament with fresh eyes and seek to imitate what they see there. The Spirit of God is calling all people to deep and lasting relationships.  Intentional community has proven to be a durable model for Christians to grow together in love.

Nurturing Communities Network was established to provide resources for intentional communities at all stages in their development, from start-up communities to long-established groups.

The books below have been foundational for NCN communities. Many of them were written by founders or leaders of Christian communities as diverse as the Bruderhof, the Church of the Sojourners (San Francisco), Rutba House, and the Missional Wisdom Foundation.

Seven Foundational Books on Christian Community:

The Intentional Christian Community Handbook

David Janzen

In the 21st century, Spirit-energized people of all ages are searching for a new (yet ancient) way of life together. A new generation of intentional communities is emerging with inspiring stories to tell of discoveries and struggles as they find their way. David Janzen, a friend of the New Monasticism movement with four decades of personal communal experience, has visited scores of communities, both old and new. This book shares the wisdom of many communities in many locales over the last half century.

Called to Community

Called to Community

Charles Moore (editor)

This book is both informative and practical―written with a short chapter for each week of the year. Designed to spark conversation within a group devotion setting, readers can dive deep into community together. … This book delves into the nitty-gritty details of Christian community living and encourages readers to confront the dissatisfaction stirred up by its challenging pages. Though not a light text by any means, this book is ideal for those seeking to approach Christian community more intentionally and comprehensively.

New Monasticism: What It Has to Say to Today’s Church.

Jonathan Wilson-Hartgrove

Jonathan Wilson-Hartgrove is a leader in the new monasticism movement in America, a growing group of committed Christians who are living lives of radical discipleship.However, the movement doesn't mirror traditional monasteries--many members are married with children and have careers, yet they live differently, often in community in once-abandoned sections of society.

Jonathan takes readers inside new monasticism, tracing its roots through scripture and history and illuminating its impact on the contemporary church.

"Monasticism isn't about achieving some sort of individual or communal piety. It's about helping the church be the church," Wilson-Hartgrove writes. A must-read for new monastics or those considering joining the movement, this book will also appeal to 20- and 30-somethings, pastors, leaders, and those interested in the emerging church.

Living from the Heart that Jesus Gave You

The Life Model is a unifying approach to ministries of counseling, recovery, pastoral care, prayer ministry, deliverance, inner healing, child rearing, body life and health.

Community and Growth

Jean Vanier

If you've ever thought about community- this book is essential reading. In the fifteen years since it first appeared in English, it has become the classic text on the subject -- read, dog-eared, borrowed, and discussed. Vanier is not a rosy idealist. That is because his writing is based not on theories, but on a wealth of wisdom gleaned over many years living in community, experiencing difficult days and joyous celebrations, times of struggle and hard-won success, moments of doubt and inspiration. He acknowledges the inevitable little frustrations of a life lived with and for others, but he also helps the reader see that without struggle there is no true growth.

Being Church

John Alexander

What modern church doesn’t call itself a “community”? Yet for how many is it real? How many churches form disciples intimately connected enough to call themselves Christ’s “body”? How many form disciples who know the relational arts that create a robust unity? How many form disciples practiced in the ways of sacrificial love?

Pastor John Alexander, a thirty-year veteran of living in Christian communities, yearns for all the wonder and promise of the New Testament vision of church to come true. After struggling with Scripture in live-together church communities, he shares the Scriptural practices and wisdom that make for an authentic, sustainable, and joyful life together. For any person or church wanting to move beyond the cliché of “community” to the radical vision of the New Testament, this book is an invaluable guide.

Resident Aliens

Stanley Hauerwas and William Willimon

Only when the Church enacts its scandalous Jesus-centered tradition, will it truly be the Body of Christ and transform the world. Twenty-five years after its first publishing, Resident Aliens remains a prophetic vision of how the Church can regain its vitality, battle its malaise, reclaim its capacity to nourish souls, and stand firmly against the illusions, pretensions, and eroding values of today's world.

Resident Aliens discusses the nature of the church and its relationship to surrounding culture. It argues that churches should focus on developing Christian life and community rather than attempting to reform secular culture. Hauerwas and Willimon reject the idea that America is a Christian nation, instead Christians should see themselves as "residents aliens" in a foreign land. Stanley Hauerwas and William H. Willimon maintain that, instead of attempting to transform government, the role of Christians is to live lives which model the love of Christ. Rather than trying to convince others to change their ethics, Christians should model a new set of ethics which are grounded in the life, death and resurrection of Christ.

More Great Reading…

Partner Websites 

The Bruderhof are a wealth of practical and theological information on Christian living.

Shalom Mission Communities (SMC) is an association of five Anabaptist-inspired intentional communities with shared convictions and practices.

Missional Wisdom Foundation is out of the Methodist Church and is trying to experiment and support alternative ways of being church and intentional community.