How to start an intentional community

The Sojourners community circa 1980. This is one of the 25 photos in Moral Minority.

Hundreds of evangelical intentional communities started in the 1970s, among them the Christian World Liberation Front, Sojourners, Reba Place, Patchwork Central, and Jesus People-USA. Of the five I just mentioned, two of them survive to this day (Reba and JPUSA). There might be a couple of others among the hundreds, but not many lasted more than half a decade.

There’s been a revival of these communities in the last decade, especially within the New Monastic movement. Jonathan Wilson-Hartgrove, member of the Rutba House in Durham, North Carolina, is one of the leaders of the New Monastics. Here he offers some advice for starting a new community:

You can learn about community elsewhere. But you can only make it happen–you can only ever have it–where you are. So find 3 to 5 people who will commit to share life together for six months or a year. Sit down and make a plan. Find an outside mentor for the group if you can. And schedule a time to evaluate your experiment after the initial commitment is over.


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