(In college, I got rejected from every fraternity because I was a jerk at the time. After college I lived with one roommate and then moved home to live with my parents. Then I lived in a retirement community in a trailer park. Single wide, not one of those double fancy deals. I didn’t realize it at the time, but I was missing out on a chance to live in an “intentional community” with a bunch of other Christians. What’s that you say? Erin Kutz has the answer in a great new guest post. Enjoy!)
Intentional Community. I remember when I first heard of the concept. My now-landlord and intentional community leader (it’s kinda like a camp counselor role) was looking at a house several months back and one of our mutual friends told me that he had gone to look at a house to buy so that a bunch of Christians could live there. I remember thinking that it sounded like a 24-hour youth group retreat for 20-somethings.
Maybe you’ve heard it explained directly and explicitly, like in Shane Claiborne’s Irresistible Revolution, which highlights his “new monastic” community. (Confession: I haven’t actually read it, I’ve just been told.)
Or, maybe you haven’t heard the term in so many words, but once you take a look back on things Christians have said about their roommates or lifestyles, it all starts to come together. Once you start thinking about it, you look back at Donald Miller’s explanation of his living situation in Blue Like Jazz, where a bunch of single dudes all lived together in a house, looking for opportunities for spiritual growth amid traditional roommate conflicts like someone being too noisy at early hours of the morning.
So then you start taking a look at groups of Christian singles that you know, who all live together. They show up to church activities as a unit, and refer to each other as a single name (often incorporating the same elements used in church names). They seem to do a lot of stuff together, like tutoring kids, hosting dinner parties, running Bible studies all out of that one home.
My friends, you might have an intentional community right there in front of you, maybe even in your own home. So rather, than sitting and wondering with this twilight zone feeling that you’ve had one under your nose this entire time, tally it up with this scorecard, which draws out some of the major highlights of living life “intentionally.”
1. You have more than four people living in the house. = +1 for each additional person
2. You have separate floors for each gender. = +1
3. You have a married couple living somewhere in this community, preferably on their own floor, and they often act as the parents of group, even if they’re only a few years older than you. = +2
4. Each person has a different spiritual gift as his or her strength. = +1 for each gift represented
5. You’ve crafted different explanations for your living situation. For example, for your non-Christian friends and co-workers, you tell them that you’re renting from or living with a bunch of friends from church. = +1.
6. To your Christian friends, all you have to do is say you live in an intentional community, and you get the approving, knowing “ah.” = +2
7. Regardless of your explanation, your non-Christian friends think you joined a cult. = +2
8. You invite said friends over frequently for non-Christian things like beer-drinking and TV-watching in an attempt to prove them wrong. = +1
9. Every time you watch TV as a community, you wonder if you should be praying or reading your Bibles together instead. = +1
10. You keep watching TV anyways, especially to prove to your non-Christian friends how normal you are, even when they aren’t around. =+1 for each show you watch regularly as a group.
11. Your parents also think you joined a cult. = +3
12. You use the words intentional, encourage, edify, challenge, and serve more than you use each other’s names. = +2
13. At any given moment in the house, at least someone is doing quiet time. = +1
14. As soon as you walk out of your room, a housemate asks you what you did and learned during your quiet time today. = +2
15. You could start a small Christian library, between everyone’s stock of Donald Miller, Francis Chan, Tim Keller, C.S. Lewis, etc. = +1 per author.
16. You recycle. = +1
17. You compost. = +2
18. You have a name for your house. = +3
19. You roll up as a group to church, and the rest of the church says, “Oh look, (name of house) is here.” = +1
20. You quote Bible verses about love and serving at your roommates when they aren’t doing the dishes or taking out the trash. = +2
21. Your community has spread across to multiple houses on the same block (urban) or acre (rural). = +3
22. You make it a point to smile a lot at and be extra friendly to the neighbors, so they know how happy life is in your intentional community. = +2
23. You’re considering getting a van so the entire house can travel places together. = +3
24. You blog about the things you do together, like pray, save neighborhood kittens, or compost, and about all that God is teaching you through these things, so everyone can know what life is like inside your community. = +3
There you have it. I recommend taking this with your non-roommate friends to see who’s living the most intentionally.
Have you ever lived in an intentional community?
(For more great stuff from Erin, check out her blog)