LIVING in 'COMMUNITY' - YOUR THOUGHTS?? -by Andrew Strom. A lot of people think this kind of thing is a 'dream' or fantasy. They find it hard to believe it can be done successfully. But "community" is no mere dream. I am convinced that if it is "outreach"-oriented - 'outward' looking rather than inward - then it can work. We have seen this at the 'Katrina' base in Mississippi. This whole 'Community Living' concept is something that we have been actively discussing on the 'RevivalSchool' Forum over the last couple of days. For my family here in Kansas City, it is something that God has been challenging us about for some time - so it is definitely not just "theory" for us. Our home is now up for sale. We would greatly appreciate your prayers and also hearing your thoughts on this whole subject, my friends. To me, it is inarguable that the Early church greatly emphasized the POOR and also (to a somewhat lesser degree) "having all things in common". I feel that this kind of topic is one of the most important that can be discussed in the Western church today. We are so unscriptural, so comfortable and so incredibly deceived in the "lifestyle" and "money" areas. God has been challenging us ourselves so strongly on all this. But I need to make it very clear that I am not talking about any kind of "separatist" community here. I am talking about the kind of thing where you buy a bunch of cheap houses in the 'poor' part of town and reach out to the whole area with food, clothing and ministry, etc. (ie. You do not separate yourselves - but rather "live amongst"). -Similar to our 'Katrina' base in Mississippi - but this time on a permanent basis. So in many ways it is a 'mission' or "outreach" - actually living in the neighborhood that it is reaching. But it is also a "community" in every way - Christians who live close, sharing resources, fellowshipping and outreaching together, pooling possessions, etc. Having a "common purse" for the poor - each house run by one main family. That is the kind of thing I see. It is a concept that I know works - because of Mississippi. (-Also a group in Houston years ago - and others around the world). It can be very powerful - and I mean VERY powerful. And it is utterly scriptural. Personally I find it pretty exciting - but it is something we need to go into with our eyes open. We are well aware of the challenges. As I said, the house we are in (which is in the "safer suburbs" of South Kansas City) is now up for sale. (And yes, we have children, which we always need to bear in mind and be sensible about). For several months now we have been looking in the poorer areas to the North to buy a cheap older house - many are quite huge and perfect to begin this kind of thing. A lot of times you can find a large one for less than $50,000. It is definitely something we would love to do - and feel is from God - to have a living Outreach Community like this. And I believe it needs to be a Training School all at the same time. (-With young people coming in for the Summer, etc.) -It has everything going for it. We know God wants to change the very definition of "church" today. Perhaps Mississippi was His way of showing us the way forward. We are definitely very serious about these discussions. Below are some interesting replies from Forum members on this topic: Frank writes: RULES ?? 1- All private property remains private until voluntarily given. All things are in common only to the degree and as long as those involved want them to be. 2- Everyone, but especially leaders, respects the privacy of all concerned. 3- People are free to come and go as they choose. No contracts locking people in. It is for freedom that Christ set us free, so please be careful with this idea. It could be good if done correctly. ---------------------- Debbie writes: It sounds to me like Andrew is trying to see how the idea of a "permanent" outreach ministry would work in an underpriviledged community. I think it is a wonderful idea. If it is something that the Lord has put on your heart, Andrew, and other people are being called by God to participate in something like this, it will succeed. There are few points I'd like to make about some other things said here: Apparently the Holy Spirit was at work among the church that first began to live within a community lifestyle. He destroyed two people for lying about the price they sold their land for -- remember? Ananais and Sapphira. So if the Holy Spirit was present and working among this community, wouldn't that leave us to believe that it was ordained by God as something good? If God did not agree, He would not have been involved. I agree with Frank that there would have to be rules -- the basic and most important RULE BOOK -- the Bible, would have to be adhered to and followed. ---------------------- Caleb writes: A few nice things about this Holy Spirit led kind of thinking: 1) By selling most of our possessions, including our homes, we could move into smaller houses in poor areas and easily be DEBT FREE. 2) Think about the possibility of being the church in this setting. Believers could meet in their homes, in their yards, in the streets and not have to leave those you are ministering with and to. You would just have to WALK down the block to be home. 3) Think about the financial resources that would be available to minister to the sick, poor and even each other. With everyone being debt free from "rightsizing", and by having smaller bills to pay (including less gas cost from driving across the city to meet with each other), there would be VAST resources to give away as the Spirit leads. 4) By actually living among the people and building relationships of trust, the testimony of the gospel would be so powerful. The lost would start to see the love we have for each other, and for them, and it would turn city blocks and neighborhoods upside down! This is just a small list. I have been dreaming of this kind of thing myself. The hard part is finding like minded people who truly are ready to sell possessions, deny themselves and follow Christ. (Believe me, I'm not there yet myself, but quickly being moved there by the Spirit) Quote: "Is this much like a mission field, as missionaries live among the people?" Absolutely! Fulfilling the great commission right here in America who desperately needs the true gospel lived out! Lets keep dreaming. (I) look forward to seeing how the Lord leads in this discussion.... -------------------------- ANDREW Again: As you can see, there is some excellent discussion already taking place on this topic. We would love to hear from many others. I have set it up so that anybody (even non-members) can respond to this topic on our Forum. Please take the time to do so, if you can. I hope to publish some of the responses next week. Here is the website to go to- http://www.revivalschool.com We look forward to hearing your thoughts, my friends. God bless you all! Andrew Strom.