Thursday, 26 May 2011

Looking For Community

The latest issue of Jesus Life Magazine has just reached me from the Jesus Fellowship/Jesus Army. Always a challenging read, but one particular line jumped out at me:
"The pendulum is swinging back towards community"

The speaker is Mark Powley, co-founder of the Breathe Network, who represents a new generation of thinking, activist Christians - concerned about the environment, concerned about consumerism gone mad, keen to recycle, to live simply, and to explore community. He has recently published Consumer Detox, in which he explores how the tyranny of consumerism can be decoded, subverted, and outlived. The upbeat tone is well expressed in the final section, "adventures in generosity".

Powley isn't the only voice wondering whether Christian community (even community of goods) might be coming "in" again. Pastor and academic Jonathan Wilson-Hartgrove, a leader in the 'New Monasticism' movement, who himself lives in Christian community, has recently published <em>God's Economy , in which he critiques the 'prosperity gospel' so prevalent in Western (especially North American) churches, and offers a more just model.

The Jesus Army is finding this too, as churches and groups in many parts of the world make contact, having searched for an alternative to personal health and wealth preaching, which they instinctively mistrust and which simply does not work in their culture. The Jesus Army's relational model, with community living, offers a new direction which many are keen to explore.

So thank you, Mark, for the watchman's cry from the battlements: "the pendulum is swinging back towards community". I hope over the next few posts to explore elements of this subject.