books about community

I’ve had a few conversations recently with folks from our church who are either very interested in intentional community or already pursuing it in some way.  My lunch on Sunday was in the home of a family who share there space with five single folks.  Last week I spoke with a guy who, along with his wife, is wondering about purchasing a home with some others from the church when we plant a congregation on Chicago’s South Side.  On Monday Maggie and I had dinner with a couple who has bought an abandoned home with the vision of renovating the basement and upstairs to host college students who want to experience incarnational neighborhood life.  Yesterday afternoon I met with a single guy who is very interested in living in community and learning how to use his financial skills for the good of neglected neighborhoods.

Good stuff.  These conversations reminded me of the stories we heard this summer at the PAPA Festival (as blogged about here, here, and here).

During my conversation yesterday I recommended the following books for this guy’s research into Christian community.  These were just a few that I grabbed from my bookshelf.  

A Peculiar People by Rodney Clapp.

Resident Aliens by Stanley Hauweras and William Willimon.

The Irresistible Revolution by Shane Claiborne.

Let Justice Roll Down by John Perkins.

The Cost of Discipleship by Dietrich Bonhoeffer.

Life Together by Dietrich Bonhoeffer.

What titles and authors would you add to this list?

8 thoughts on “books about community

  1. I would definitely ditto these as my biggies:
    The Cost of Discipleship by Dietrich Bonhoeffer.
    Life Together by Dietrich Bonhoeffer.
    The Irresistible Revolution by Shane Claiborne.
    Let Justice Roll Down by John Perkins.

    I would also check out:
    The New Friars by Scott Bessenecker
    Becoming the Answer to our prayers by Claiborne and Wilson-Hartgrove

    I also highly recommend speaking to folks or reading blogs of those who are living intentionally in community. Since books cant talk back 🙂

  2. I’ve been lurking for a couple months now but wow, your timing of this post was a little too coincidental to really be coincidence. Just last night, I spent several hours on Amazon looking for good books about community that might help foster an amazing little Christian community that’s started up within my apartment complex. I can’t wait to check out some of the books you listed and look at the PAPA Festival web site. Thank you!

  3. The other thing I would add is that most of the intentional communities I know of consist of primarily majority folk with an occasional person of color, or specifically the people that “relocated” were majority folk. If you know of any that are primarily non-majority communities please give a shout out. I’d love to know how the cross-cultural values (such as the role their families had in blessing or not blessing them into that community) plays out in that.

    p.s. I believe the new monasticism is also by Wilson-Hartgrove, but I have not gotten to it yet.

  4. Great additions drita. I’ve read The New Friars and would also recommend it. I’m aware of Wilson-Hartgrove, but haven’t read his stuff yet. The New Monasticism website has some helpful information along with some recommended reading: http://www.newmonasticism.org/

    In addition to dritia’s request for non-majority folks, I’d be interested in knowing about female authors who are writing about these types of themes. Anyone?

    Thanks for the comment mentally::rehearsed. I hope some of these books are helpful. Personally, I find it most helpful to read these kinds of books along with some friends. The conversations the authors can stir up is both challenging and encouraging.

  5. I would say “The safest place on earth” by Larry Crabb. I haven’t read it since my Masters Degree and I think he’s written further on the topic since then. Essentially, he was a conservative Biblical counselor who had something of a mid-career breakdown and ended up believing that strong Christian community is what we need instead.

  6. I believe it is essential to go to authors who provide a Christian framework; however, I do also believe there is a great deal to be learned from others who write about community. I have read through certain chapters of “Creating community anywhere : finding support and connection in a fragmented world” by Carolyn R. Shaffer.

  7. Monasticism is the ancient classic Christian way of establishing intentional community in order to live out the gospel fully (still practiced in some Christian communions). It didn’t/doesn’t always do what it set out to, but some wise and experienced spiritual fathers have left us good guidance as to how to go about avoiding some of the potential pitfalls of any intentional Christian community. There is a lot we moderns could learn from the likes of St. John of the Ladder and St. Benedict and his Rule. There’s no need to reinvent the wheel here! 🙂 I recently read “Listen With Your Heart” on the Rule of St. Benedict by M. Basil Pennington–good stuff! Also, the basis for any healthy Christian community is our own soul work–there’s no way around the “work out your own salvation with fear and trembling” part that the Apostle Paul exhorted us to if we want to see God at work in our own lives and communities. We are in a spiritual battle in which we have been called to actively take up the armor God has given us and to use it to fight. “The Ladder of Divine Ascent” by St. John of the Ladder is an 8th century classic on this warfare that all Christians should have to read (though it would be good for those unfamiliar with the ancient terminology and milieu to read a commentary on “The Ladder” along with the original, such as Fr. John Mack’s, “Ascending the Heights,” which will make it more intelligible to contemporary readers). If I had known this stuff earlier, I wouldn’t have taken some of the dead-end detours to spiritual growth and community that I did earlier in my Christian life.

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