TO PEOPLE interested in establishing a new community I would encourage them to see 1) who the leaders are, 2) what the purpose of the community is, and 3) what the commitment among them is. Many attempts at community fail because the reasons for living together are vague or “romantic.” I believe that where God’s people are gathered because that has been his word to them, there is a solid foundation on which to build.
Initially, most communities seem to face the same basic problems and struggles, ranging from eating habits to family life to priorities. When people come together committed to share openly, all of who they are eventually emerges. This, in turn, presents areas in the common life (like the ones mentioned above) that must be resolved.
The basic difference in the dynamics of a beginning community and one that is established and mature is the wisdom and experience that comes with the established community. The established community has gained knowledge in the forming of relationships and how to “grow people up.” Their trust in the Lord’s faithfulness is well established. Emerging communities would do well to vigorously pursue established communities—to visit them for periods of time and have members of established communities stay with them—whatever needs to be done to develop a trusting, learning relationship.
Margo Farra was an elder at Community of Celebration in Woodland Park, Colo., when this article appeared.
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