I’ve been pursuing community as the ideal expression of the Gospel life for a long time. It’s an elusive goal; though even limited expressions of community can provide wonderful experiences.
I have also witnessed true community first-hand, and it is radical, it is spiritual, and it is inescapably life-altering. It brooks no besetting sin in its midst, it forms halacha as a living, breathing thing that flows from the text (of Scripture) and is informed by the Ruach’s guidance amidst a plurality of elders. It is evangelistic in operation, not “evangelistically-minded,” by its very nature it produces disciples, not converts. It is charitable, and what it has spills over into the lives of those around it. A majority of the children raised in true community, stay in the community.
I’ve seen it, and I’ve lived amongst it for several short periods and I’ve realized that it is only possible for people who are willing to be other than.
What, you may ask, is “other than”? It is different than the majority; it is different even from those who profess to share the same goals and values. The difference between those who profess and those who are “other than” is observed when you mention the idea of abandoning their white picket fence or their late-model car, or a single-family dwelling. But that is another post; note to myself–work on a description of “other than.”