Peacemaking in the midst of violence and conflict resolution within communities
As with any community where multiple personalities overlap in time and space, members of the Lotus House community sometimes quarrel. Usually these conflicts are minor, but occasionally they boil over into full-blown disputes. Early in its history, Lotus House realized the need for a structure to deal with conflict before it reached a boiling point, and too late to resolve. Its solution is the mediated meeting. If two members of the community cannot resolve a dispute, or simply can’t talk about it without getting upset, then they agree to have a mediated meeting. Both parties agree on the mediator, a disinterested third party, from within the community. Only in circumstances when the entire house is implicated is a mediator brought in from outside. The primary duty of the mediator is to facilitate conversation by asking questions, keeping a check on the emotional pulse of the meeting, and helping each side to understand the opposing perspective. Lotus House has found that even though mediated meetings are not called upon very often, having a protocol in place to handle disputes often defuses tensions before they get out of hand.
By: Trey Everett
The MICAH community meets weekly for “MICAH meetings,” which open with a check-in to see how everyone is doing. Next, the community participates in the practice of Lectio Divina, after which discussion of any business, planning, or reflections on past events takes place. The Lectio Divia, or Scripture Prayer, provides a rich time of listening and discerning of how God is moving in the MICAH community. This weekly rhythm helps the community to be more attentive to God’s plans and timing.
Rule of Life Commitment
The Mount Community, Bruderhof
By: Charles Moore
The Mount Community understands commitment to a rule of life as a process. Once this rule of life is understood and accepted, anyone who wants to become a full member of the community takes vows, which is a sign that one is ready to give oneself completely and bind oneself unreservedly to the service of Christ in church community. Final vows are made in the spirit of the traditional monastic vows of poverty, chastity, and obedience. They are made publicly, to God and before the community. The Mount Community vows consist of promising to proclaim Jesus in word and deed for the rest of one’s life, and of putting oneself – all faculties and property, both which one now possesses and that which one may later inherit or earn – at the disposal of the community. One commits to serve however and wherever the church identifies a need. The vow also includes a promise to accept and give admonition, to speak truthfully in love to one another, and to uphold the need for church discipline through repentance and forgiveness. This commitment to the community is for life since it is a response to God’s personal call on one’s life.
Hospitality to the stranger
By: Brian Gorman
When looking for houses to rent, Meade House tried to find a house with one more bedroom than people to live in the house, with the intention to always have it available for a guest to stay in. The community realized that if it didn’t start out intentionally keeping it empty, it would be too tempting to fill it in order to make the rent burden easier. But they’ve found that a little extra rent is worth the cost of keeping a room available for Christ to dwell with them. Even when unoccupied, the room is a reminder to the community of the need to continually invite Christ in. They’ve taken time to decorate it with care and in a way that reminds them of who dwells there. They’ve also made connections with a local church to make it known that the room is available. Additionally, Meade House has made friends with a homeless ministry and are working to set up temporary arrangements with some of the folks there. In this way, people come to the community through relationships, not just randomly, mitigating potential trust issues. They’re certainly still figuring it out and trying to learn, but this is the direction they’re headed.
Discipline in Community
By: Andrew Howard
Ten folks have come together to attempt to live out intentional Christian community at Ecclesia in South Minneapolis. Life together includes informal times of hanging out, worship times, and dinners with housemates. Additionally, one night a week the community participates in a potluck and house meeting after the children have gone to bed in order to stay organized and informed about the different activities of the house. Ecclesia rotates every other week between discussion/business house meetings and a fun night of worship, games, or hanging out. Discussion nights always start with prayer and something called “high-low-funny”, where each person shares their high of the week, their low of the week, and a funny thing from the week. Recent topics of discussion have included sharing the attraction of living in community, what individual needs exist, and what individuals can provide to the community.
Sharing Money/Money-making Decisions
By: Dani Scoville
Once a year the ReImagine Tribe communities meet together to share budgets. It may not sound like the sexiest of meeting topics, but ReImagine has found it to be one of the most intimate times of the year. It is often intimidating to name salaries, how much is spent on rent, food, clothing, or travel, or to verbalize how much debt some struggle with. For new members this is a formative and bonding time with the rest of the community, and for seasoned members, it’s an opportunity to share experience and wisdom. In preparation for the meeting, a budget template is emailed and filled out by each member. At the meeting, members only have to share as much information as they want, though they are encouraged to take a step outside their comfort zone and risk being vulnerable to the community. After each person shares his or her (or their family’s) budget, the community prays for whatever next steps are named. Aspects of one’s budget are never questioned or commented on, unless invited. ReImagine recognizes that the diversity in age, background and life stage, means each person is at a different point in the simplicity story. The community hopes to encourage each member in taking their specific next step.
Hospitality to the stranger
Hospitality in the Hall Hotel community is highly valued, and also a challenge. How does one balance stability of home for those who are living in the community with a welcoming spirit to those who need a place to stay for a few nights or a place to be known and loved for a longer period of time? How do you listen to your housemates’ needs for space in a way that is not pressuring them into being generous with the common space? And, how do you determine when opening your door to your friend who is homeless and letting her sleep on your air mattress is enabling her to make poor choices limiting her chances at a long term housing solution? These are questions that the Hall Hotel face as a community in Boston MA. They value hospitality, and yet have realized that they must value the space of those who are residents of the home, in order to remain healthy. When everyone in the house feels heard and respected, then the choice to open the door to the stranger, the friend of a friend, or the cousin or sister, is done in community and the welcome is shared by all.
Below is a list of potential key topics/ideas we hope to comprehensively cover via stories from practitioners here on Community Cookbook.
- Sharing Meals
- Sharing economic resources with fellow community members and the needy among us.
- Sharing Money/Money-making Decisions
- Hospitality to the stranger
- Common work
- Shared committment to work
- Chores and responsibilities
- Commitment to a disciplined contemplative life.
- in-house teaching
- imported teaching from churches, web, other materials, etc.
- Unstructured time
- Lament for racial divisions within the church and our communities combined with the active pursuit of a just reconciliation.
- Humble submission to Christ’s body, the church.
- Support for celibate singles alongside monogamous married couples and their children.
- Intentional formation in the way of Christ and the rule of the community along the lines of the old novitiate.
- Tools from the history of monasticism
- Care for the plot of God’s earth given to us along with support of our local economies
- Peacemaking in the midst of violence and conflict resolution within communities
- Tools for approaching conflict in community
- Rule of Life Commitment
- Discipline in Community
- Rule book
- General Guidelines