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Just the sixteen of us

November 25, 2011

I worked with a Baptist pastor’s wife, a few years back. We were both secondary school teachers and good friends. One Monday morning, slouched in the staffroom and bracing ourselves for another week at the chalkface, she sighed and said, “What a weekend. People have been knocking on our front door all weekend.”

I thought a moment, then said, “They’ve been knocking on our bedroom door all weekend.”

I exaggerated. On the whole, “they” let my wife and I sleep between the hours of twelve and eight. I was making an ironic reference to our communal lifestyle. You see, my wife and I and our three small kids live in an intentional Christian community with eleven other people (“intentional” is the buzz phrase for such communities; I think it means we don’t live there by accident.)

White Stone House and those who live in it

It’s a thirteen bedroom house. We live with two other married couples, neither with any kids – yet; seven single people (four of whom are celibate, committed to lifelong singleness); a highly independent cat; and a tank full of tropical fish. (The fish find community okay, except when they bite and fight each other. The humans are much the same.)

We share most of our stuff and all of our money via a common bank account. And lots of other people – church members, friends, neighbours, lads off the street – come round lots.

Our house in Coventry, White Stone House, is part of a Christian community movement called the New Creation Christian Community, which in turn is part of a UK-wide church called the Jesus Army.

Earlier this year I had the delight of meeting and interviewing Mark Powley of the “Breathe” network. You can read the thought-provoking stuff he said to me that day here. In the course of our chat that day, he said he’d love some “Breathe” posts to be written by someone who lives in an intentional community. Perhaps from that day I was a marked man (if you’ve met Mark, you may know what I mean). Anyway, now my voice has been added to the “Breathe” chorus. I’m honoured; I hope that some of my everyday accounts of a somewhat un-everyday lifestyle will mean something to “Breathe” readers.

I’ll share stories from community, thoughts from community, the chaos of community, and the beauty of community. Some posts may originate from my personal blog, man-with-the-mop.blogspot.com, some, like this one, will be written specially for “Breathe”.

Earlier I mentioned “lots of people coming round lots”. This coming weekend that is especially true: we have a “community weekend” during which we’re deliberately inviting several friends to stay with us.

The reason we’re doing this is because, for us, community has to be outward-looking. It has to be about a wider community, a big circle of people, all being drawn towards a common centre – the God who is love. If that sounds mystical, that’s because it is. But it’s the kind of mystical reality that comes via group games, via homemade curry and chapattis, via walks in the woods, via lots of washing up (there’s an endless supply of washing up in community), via laughter, and sometimes via tears.

I’ll let you know how it goes. Hopefully it’ll be great fun.

And if they knock on our bedroom door, we’ll cope. For this weekend anyway.

9 Comments leave one →
  1. November 25, 2011 5:34 pm

    Love it! Wouldn’t want to live any other way 🙂

  2. November 25, 2011 5:41 pm

    Who wouldn’t want to live with their best friends day in day out, no other way to live i say. Good post about our way of life James! 🙂

  3. November 25, 2011 5:43 pm

    Great post!! Very inspiring 😉

  4. November 25, 2011 5:45 pm

    Chuckle, Amy and Hannah, I can think of quite a few other ways to live, maybe because I’m old and cranky (especially first thing in the morning. In fact, I try not to think about other ways to live, especially first thing in the morning.) But thanks for the enthusiastic response, and you’re right, living in community is a groovy kind of love.

  5. November 25, 2011 5:54 pm

    Interesting Stuff James, Will definitely keep an eye out for further posts.

  6. Georgia Morton permalink
    November 25, 2011 5:55 pm

    YES YES YES the 16 of us……. more Lord!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! And what a fantastic bunch of coconuts!

  7. December 3, 2011 1:22 am

    Thanks for the post. I look forward to reading more as and when.

    I look forward to reading more Breathe stuff too. I find it very inspiring.

    So, did they knock on your bedroom door?

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