An in-depth discussion considering the Bible, the Anabaptists, Messianic Believers, and others.

Looking at the Possibilities

Philip Crossan

Crossan Publishing PO Box 564 Sugarcreek, OH 44681 Copyright © 2012 Philip Crossan. All rights reserved. No part of this book may be copied or reproduced in any form or by any means, without express written permission from the author, except for reviews of 100 words or less. The information in this publication is true and correct to the best of the knowledge of the author and publisher. The author and publisher disclaim any liability in connection with any ethnic or religious group or use of information. All Scripture quotes are King James Version. ISBN: 978-0-9848172-1-4


.............................................Table of Contents About the Author............. Page 15 Chapter 3 Many Forms of Community.............. Page 75 Chapter 7 My Visions of Community......................... Page 61 Chapter 6 Community in the Church Age................................................... I Chapter 1 Nuts and Bolts............... Page 87 Bibliography..................................................... Page 103 .................................. Page 47 Chapter 5 Community in the Newest Testament............. Page 1 Chapter 2 Considering Possibilities.. Page 21 Chapter 4 Community in the Oldest Testament..........................................

Community: Looking at the Possibilities .

He was ordained in 2003 with a prison ministry where he served as a pastor. I . which is today known as Beth Shalom Messianic Ministries. Philip has independently studied various Hebraic and Anabaptist Christian communal groups and has been active with some since about 1999.About the Author About the Author Philip Crossan dedicated his life to YHVH (God) and the risen Messiah Yeshua (Jesus) in 1998 and points to that year as when he became converted or born again. Philip is very motivated about sharing the Gospel. mainly through literature. Philip became a Messianic Believer for some years before he began simultaneously attending various Anabaptist churches. He was also a founder and elder of Christ’s Bible Fellowship in Canton Ohio in 2004. He is especially interested in those who practice a more sustainable lifestyle.


some of these groups would not want to be known as anything more than believers who are about their Father’s business. and they wouldn’t like it much if other people were holding them up like some kind of idealistic society. Secondly. some communities are regularly bombarded with self-invited guests 1 . to God be the glory.Chapter 1 Nuts and Bolts Chapter 1 Nuts and Bolts This book is compiled from several years of studies and relationships. I only talk about how they function and I do not reveal all of their identities for several reasons. Firstly. There are several modernday groups and intentional communities that I mention in this book. however.

I’m including all the believers in the risen Messiah when I use these terms. I have chosen to use the name Yeshua rather than Jesus because that is His actual name. This is the name that the Messiah Himself and all the apostles would have used. I’m prone to use either name when speaking to different groups of people however for a written work such as this I feel more comfortable to use His Aramaic name. Thirdly I can discuss their strong points and weaknesses more freely with this approach. Although I think the majority of readers will be from either an Anabaptist or Messianic background. I use the words Messianic or Christian in this book in the broadest sense of the words and have chosen in most places to use the word Believers. and I don’t want to contribute to that problem either. Yeshua. Thus. Therefore.Community: Looking at the Possibilities who behave as though they were visiting the zoo. I also use the title God to refer to YHVH the Creator and God of the Bible. This is a title that can be understood by all my readers without much explanation. I’d also like to point out that this book is not a critique of any particular community or their 2 . This book is intended to reach the broadest audience of people who believe and follow the Messiah Yeshua (Jesus).

3 . I share here cases of both good and bad.Chapter 1 Nuts and Bolts possibly unique practices.200 communities. My intentions are not to show a certain slant on community but to show all sides to some extent. There are a few directories that list communal groups. alone. and I’m sure that certain groups do things that I do not completely agree with. some list both Christian and non-Christian. While you are at it you’ll probably realize that there are several hundred Christian based communal groups in the U.S. Additionally I have not researched absolutely every little detail about every group. Most of the groups I talk about are basically Anabaptist or have branched off of some Anabaptist type of church. not very many of the communities that I mention in my book would be found in a directory. If you are interested in any of the groups I mention in this book then it is up to you to locate and contact them personally to find out more about them for yourself. I might also point out. however they are not all Christian and I’m not sure how many are. Most of these groups are small. One publisher lists over 1. for those of you who might locate and use some of these directories. A few are Messianic groups and would share some Anabaptist theology but also have some differences.

that is why I feel that the term “communalism” more closely fits with what this book is about.Community: Looking at the Possibilities I would also like to make it known right from the start that this book is not about some kind of communistic approach to the Bible. But it could also mean that the individuals in the group share their possessions although ownership is retained by the individuals in the group. Communalism could be interpreted to mean co-ownership of possessions. this is done voluntarily. I do not believe. typically a religious organization. Communalism is when a group or organization. and I do not intend to promote. If you have to apply a label to what we’re discussing in this book then the term communalism might fit a little better. in addition. Furthermore. An even simpler definition could be ‘sharing your stuff ’. This book is also not intended to give false utopian type ideas to anyone. What we are discussing in this book is converted followers of the Messiah who want to do more for God and who choose for themselves to live in some kind of community with other believers. any of the many forms of communal life as being a commandment which becomes a requirement of salvation. operates on a communal basis to any extent. 4 .

joining a commune and spending your life in full time service to God. or are changing. because that is between you and God. But I believe that God blesses both of these examples. I do not believe that God wants everyone to live communally. or it could mean selling everything you have. I’m talking about a group of believers who choose to share their lives to some degree or another. That could be as simple as physically and financially supporting a local Bible based fellowship. meaning working within a truly Biblical network to spread the Gospel. I’m not going to tell you which one is right for you. Additionally a converted person 5 . their habits and lifestyle to follow the Messiah. but I do believe that God wants everyone to be in some form of community. And when I use the term “born again” or “conversion” or “converted” I’m referring to people who have repented of their sins and have completely changed. so long as they’re truly done unto Him.Chapter 1 Nuts and Bolts Among truly converted people various forms of community life can be a real blessing and can enable a ministry to accomplish far greater things for the Kingdom of God than what a ministry founded by individualism could offer. When I mention the term “community”.

For whosoever shall do the will of my Father which is in heaven. because according to Scripture. 6 . and said. We need to see the fellowship as our family. the fellowship is our family. I’m just saying that true success requires love. then the community will fail. If we don’t really love each other as brothers and sisters in Messiah. and sister.Community: Looking at the Possibilities gives everything they have to God and will desire fellowship and community to some extent. and it doesn’t mean that every long term community has love. That doesn’t mean that every failed community was without love. In addition let us also remember Yeshua’s last prayer for His disciples at the end of his personal earthly ministry. Behold my mother and my brethren. and if we don’t really love Messiah. I would also like to point out that community requires love. Matthew 12:49-50 And he stretched forth his hand toward his disciples. and mother. the same is my brother.

and thou in me. as thou hast loved me. Acts 4:33 And with great power gave the apostles witness of the resurrection of the Lord Yeshua: and great grace was upon them all. The answer is in the verses before and after. Notice that “great grace was upon them all”. And the glory which thou gavest me I have given them. that they may be one. and I in thee. Father. even as we are one: I in them. art in me. It would seem that many believers want to have that same kind of blessing. and hast loved them. that they may be made perfect in one.Chapter 1 Nuts and Bolts John 17:21-23 That they all may be one: as thou. 7 . but we must examine why the early believers had such a blessing. that they also may be one in us: that the world may believe that thou hast sent me. There is also a verse in Acts which speaks of some of the great blessings of love and unity. and that the world may know that thou hast sent me.

And they. and breaking bread from house to house. but they had all things common. did 8 . And sold their possessions and goods. Acts 2:44-46 And all that believed were together. as every man had need. and parted them to all men. And laid them down at the apostles’ feet: and distribution was made unto every man according as he had need.Community: Looking at the Possibilities Acts 4:32 And the multitude of them that believed were of one heart and of one soul: neither said any of them that ought of the things which he possessed was his own. Acts 4:34-35 Neither was there any among them that lacked: for as many as were possessors of lands or houses sold them. continuing daily with one accord in the temple. and had all things common. The second chapter of Acts also records the closeness of the early believers. and brought the prices of the things that were sold.

only God knows. There are two extremes that usually surface when we start talking about community in conjunction with the above verses in Acts. and that might or might not have been the case. The early believers. The first period is usually argued to have taken place just after Shavuot (Pentecost). at least at Jerusalem. get out your Bible and read and you will see that these verses are talking about two different time periods. The one extreme is the 9 . but in chapter four they looked back to the blessings they had when they were in community and simply adopted that pattern from here on. The above verses show us a literal example that no truth-seeker can dispute.Chapter 1 Nuts and Bolts eat their meat with gladness and singleness of heart. there probably was a need in chapter two and that may be why they had all things common and that time past on. 6:1-6. were living in a very close community. Also notice the context. and the Assembly had such exponential growth that they had to do this. Other verses in Acts also show us an example of community: Acts 4:23-24. Most likely these periods were not very far apart maybe a year or so. in chapter four it’s a different period. However. The indication that I get out of reading these verses in context is that.

while everyone else serves them. The result often leads a Community Hater to hate community so much that they’ll twist Acts chapters 2 & 4 and other parts of the Bible in an attempt to make them sound like they’re saying something other than what they literally say. that have practiced community. to a point that some don’t take care of their families or themselves. Others that might fall into this category are power hungry and want to be the boss. about how we all need to live in a commune. The “Commune Only People” will build entire doctrines on the above verses in Acts. Usually these are marginal believers or misguided believers. This can be understandable to a point as there have been many bad examples and actual cults that have surfaced. The “Community Haters” seem to have a phobia against communal efforts. 10 . come and gone.Community: Looking at the Possibilities “Community Haters” and the other extreme is the “Commune Only People”. But that doesn’t change the facts. Still others might adopt an arrogant attitude. I’ve found that many times these people are the most giving people around. but many are over-zealous. Often they have a fear that every community minded group is a dangerous cult that is out to get them. looking down on people who don’t see things their way.

but in Acts 11:29 Paul made a collection from the assemblies outside of Jerusalem. because he wouldn’t have had anything to give. the individualistic life comes with more snares and stumbling blocks. in addition to the nomadic communal life. I can guarantee you this. to one degree or another. but there is also a more individualistic type of community shown as well. We need to recognize that there was community among the early believers. Each man gave “according to his ability”. true conversion lets us see the big picture. but also not everyone was living in a commune. And all three are obviously approved of by God. and 11 . However. yes there is commune type community in the Bible. all three of these examples of lifestyle. probably like the “Relaxed Community Model” (which we will discuss later). My point is. We have to read between the lines a little bit. if all the early believers co-owned everything. True conversion enables us to see things in truth and talk about them in honesty.Chapter 1 Nuts and Bolts The middle ground is the best place to be. There are other verses in Acts that tell us about people living individualistically to some extent. I’ve lived. then no man could’ve given “according to his ability”. for He never gave any commandment upholding or degrading any of the examples.

12 . life in many cases becomes more stressful. but when we work and live among people who do not share our values. Community still takes work. then I prefer community life. As a believer. I find it easier to deal with other likeminded believers rather than with unbelievers on a continual basis. Evangelism is difficult enough. However. Personally.Community: Looking at the Possibilities as long as everyone is at the same place spiritually and they all have the same goal and vision. we will not always agree. I’m not going to put myself or my family in a position of helplessness with strangers ruling over us. Even though we may all be believers. I feel life in community is much more enjoyable. as is sometimes the case in certain communities.

Chapter 1 Nuts and Bolts 13 .

Community: Looking at the Possibilities 14 .

Perhaps they own all property in common or maybe they simply own the land and buildings in common.Chapter 2 Considering Possibilities Chapter 2 Considering Possibilities I can see many good things in community. Imagine for a moment the possibility of a brotherhood living in some form of community. what has worked. and what has not worked. The taxes and upkeep are paid by the community 15 . Let’s study what others have done in the past. Let’s discuss the possible blessings of community. but there are also down sides. Let’s also think about the evangelistic value of community as well. So let’s consider the possibilities of community.

The community should also practice sustainable living as much as possible.Community: Looking at the Possibilities business or divided equally among the members who might run their own small family businesses. which only puts people in bondage. When we choose to live this way many eyes are on us and we can be an example for the glory of God. under the direction of the brotherhood. making our own clothes. each member is expected to. The first witness to outsiders is the community itself. We need to get away from the excessive and expensive ‘have it big have it now’ attitudes of the world. from the world’s system this also will glorify God. Here is an example of where these things all start to show up. As we stand together and work together and meet each others needs together and remove ourselves. as much as possible. When I say sustainable I mean growing our own food. take part in the ministry of spreading the Gospel. in some way. as much as realistically possible. We need to be dependent on God and each other. This is another witness to outsiders. and things along those lines. Let’s say a van load of brothers are sent off to the big city for a couple weeks of street preaching 16 . in addition to lowering our cost of living. The financial benefits are obvious and their purpose is this.

Their wives and children won’t feel so alone because the community is all around them. it’s a home base for missionaries. because this community is not just for living in. Could that be a blessing? 17 . If the brothers need something they can always call home and someone will be there to answer. The last thing they want is to unnecessarily enlarge the community. These brothers have nothing to worry about. the community is where they live and its purpose is to give them an advantage so they can spend more time in ministry and less time earning their income. Their bills are already paid. To these brothers. others have volunteered to work extra. And it’s certainly not a place for lazy people to loaf around all day.Chapter 2 Considering Possibilities and witnessing. And these brothers are not going out to try and enlarged their community. They are covered at work. or helping another ministry. It’s a place where every member will go out to the real Work for a time and then they’ll come back so that another group can go out. They are simply going out to win souls for God and to help guide others to Bible based groups.

The goal is evangelism. examples. when community could be used to reach so many of the lost? Community is a tool that has been used in the past.Community: Looking at the Possibilities This is just one of the many innumerable possibilities of a real community of believers. when there are so many lost people in the world? Why. and that is what this book is about. Community is Scriptural. many times. and I mean sharing the Gospel to save lost souls and calling people out of Babylon. Are we living in a lost and dying world? Are these the last days? Are we responsible for sharing the Gospel? If so many believers say the answer to these few questions is “yes”. can be 18 . which we will discuss throughout this book. then why are so few of them willing to give all and follow Yeshua? Why are so few willing to sacrifice comforts and luxuries to save a lost soul? Why is the bulk of the work that every believer is called to being carried by a very small group? Why are the majority of believers resistant to any and every form of community life? Why.

Chapter 2 Considering Possibilities found throughout the Bible and especially in the Gospels and in the book of Acts. But in this book we are talking about the assemblies and believers that were and are involved in community. Even the earliest colonies of English settlers in America were communities of believers. Of course not every believer and not every assembly in the past was involved in community. and their original purpose was to minister the Gospel to the natives. why don’t you take part in some form of community? 19 . it has been practiced by God’s people since before the time of Messiah and has been used in this “Christian Era” from the time of Messiah unto this very day. Community is historical. Long before that. And the question is also asked. Biblical Christianity was spread throughout Europe and much of the known world partly because of communal groups that were in the habit of regularly sending out missionaries.

Community: Looking at the Possibilities 20 .

And that is what this chapter is about. people automatically start thinking you must be talking about a commune. it doesn’t matter if we’re talking about a commune 21 . even with the limited definition that I gave to the term in the first chapter.Chapter 3 Many Forms of Community Chapter 3 Many Forms of Community It’s kind of funny that most of the time when a discussion about believers in community begins. Before going any further I’d like to point out that. various forms of community. But there are actually several ways to interpret the term community.

even though their lifestyle is also somewhat individualistic. At one time I thought that even people who don’t fully serve Yeshua (marginal believers) and even nonbelievers. But I learned that is not always true.Community: Looking at the Possibilities or whatever else. Relaxed Community My invention of this term “Relaxed Community” is only meant to imply that these types of communities are not intentionally structured to operate communally. they do live communally to some degree. who show interest could join a community and the good influence from the real believers would only strengthen the marginal believers and eventually convert the non-believers. Too often human nature wants to get the numbers up. However. at least in the more closed communal setting. Unfortunately this also happens in churches and communities. What I’m referring to 22 . and they are very relaxed about the communal life. If we are not careful non-believers and marginal believers can weaken the community more than what the community strengthens them. people should not be allowed to join the community unless they can show that they do have Messiah as their focus. Yeshua must be the focus. However.

work-bees. helping each other.Chapter 3 Many Forms of Community by the use of this term is a type of community that usually rises out of a close-knit fellowship. Most of them are farmers. This particular group is just one that I got to know some of the people. choosing fellowship and brotherly love over college degrees or work experience and lengthy resumes. but they didn’t each own everything they needed. So 23 . However. Everybody owns their own property and possessions. The communal aspects of these types of communities are found in their regular meetings. They all live in their own houses. although they would not typically practice co-ownership. It is also common to find these groups contributing to one another’s unexpected medical expenses and other expenses as well. The members of this small church live in close proximity to one another. They often work together. As a combined group all the necessary equipment was owned by one or another of them. many of them are neighbors. and opening their homes to one another. is an Amish church in Ohio. Community One. They would typically share their possessions. Many of these people would visit each other’s stores or businesses before going anywhere else to shop. The farmers each owned some harvesting equipment.

butchering projects. Several even worked together for businesses that were owned by other church members. many in this group also opened their homes and shared their own possessions regularly. is a non-denominational Anabaptist leaning church located in Ohio. garden planting. At this church I found a people who helped each other with just about everything. until everyone’s crops were in. This church likewise had other members of similar occupations who regularly helped one another. Most of these farmers worked together at times throughout the year helping each other. then the next one. They started on one farm then harvested the next one. This group 24 . these were normal group activities. In addition to fundraisers and workdays. They also had several occasions when various members would request help with building projects or other projects that needed to get done quickly. etc. Canning projects. It is not uncommon to hear about auctions to raise funds for a school or medical needs. and so on. Many of them were together a few times a week or more. The Amish community as a whole often helps with fund raisers for members in need. Community Two.Community: Looking at the Possibilities these farmers annually harvested their crops together.

is a Church of the Brethren congregation.Chapter 3 Many Forms of Community however put a greater emphasis on spreading the Gospel and this was their drive behind their helping one another so much. many more brothers were able to participate in spreading the Gospel. Another family was starting a small business and the whole church pitched in and bought many of the supplies they needed. that would be donated to needy people. which to me was not often enough but most churches today don’t have any fellowship meals. Because of their sharing and giving hearts. A family in another church needed food and a couple brothers were chosen to deliver several boxes and they were sent on the same sunday that the announcement was made. This church impressed me with how quickly they met each others needs. Get-togethers and work-bees brought the people closer together and 25 . Through the summer the church also held canning days where people in the church gathered in the church house kitchen and helped can each others fruits and vegetables. Fellowship meals were held every month. Every week a women’s sewing group got together to make quilts and other things. Someone in the church needed help with medical bills and that was taken care of that week. Community Three.

These are groups that would be similar in practice to what is described in Acts chapters two and four. Community One. been involved in founding a commune type of community. Because the farm was used to supply the community’s food needs the work load was small. In fact the elder and his wife had. and each family ran their own small family business on or near the property. was communally owned. and perhaps sharing some of those examples is the best way to explain what I mean by inventing this term. Expenses 26 . Each family lived in a house on the farm. the Acts-typeCommunity is one that is hard to define. buildings. I’ve seen several examples of communities who would claim to fall into this category. Acts-type-Community For lack of a better term. the land. At this church I got to know the elder (pastor) fairly well and discovered that he was very community minded. The farm supplied most of the food needed for the group. and equipment.Community: Looking at the Possibilities encouraged a very communal atmosphere. and every able-bodied member helped operate the farm. this group lives on a farm. at one time. They did not sell farm products as a group. The way they had it all set up.

in this example the group owns everything communally. Reba Place Fellowship located in Evanston. Some members have jobs outside the community. Community Two. everyone owned his own possessions. IL. Some of the houses are large and function similarly to communes. and was responsible for his own actions and expenses. Membership was limited to those who were converted and the group knew very well. They were less interested in growing a community and more interested in using it to share the Gospel.Chapter 3 Many Forms of Community for upkeep were split between the member families. There is also an offshoot group that is still located in Chicago. Community Three. And even though they did share what they had with each other. and commercial buildings. The groups own closely located single family homes. The land and houses are owned by the community and all the possessions that the members use are also owned by the whole community. while others work for the community businesses. Other members live in the apartment buildings. apartment buildings. They have a manufacturing business 27 . They had their own school. They began in 1957 in Chicago and at some point moved to Evanston.

food. or disposed of as the church saw fit. If a member needs something they just make their need known and it is supplied. I noticed the turn over of members that came and went was. in my opinion. soap. This example was relayed by one of the community’s members. most meals are eaten in the community dining hall. is supplied by elected members (deacons) and paid for out of the “community purse”. Community Four. and whatever else is needed. this community began with four 28 . Any extra money at the end of the month is used for mission work or given away to another ministry. clothing. Conversion was stressed and required for potential members. As I observed this group. If I remember the story correctly.Community: Looking at the Possibilities where every member works. They’ve been around for about eighty years. too high. Upon joining a new member would give all his possessions to the group to be distributed. Membership is limited to those who show a desire and interest in their way of life over a course of a year or more. I do not have first hand experience with this group. The community purse is where all the community’s income goes. Although members are supplied with houses to live in. But of those members who seemed to be very sincere this community is a blessing. donated. Daily needs.

Then several members decided to leave. They bought five houses on a couple acres a piece.Chapter 3 Many Forms of Community families. All five properties adjoined each other. That was fine for the first few members that left. In the end two or three families ended up getting loans and racking up mountains of debt to buy out the others. They did not co-own personal possessions at first. the whole thing blew apart. they furthermore decided that if anyone wanted to leave. the remaining members would buy out their shares in the community. but could not afford to. Even the garages of the houses were turned into living quarters. The leaders kept promising to build more housing. And we can just imagine as the members left. and a bad situation got worse. The families moved into the houses and started their ministry. All the members had previously decided to give all their possessions to the group. They started having co-ownership of all possessions and they began promoting the community more than they promoted the Gospel. In the end I think there were fifteen families living in these five overcrowded single-family houses. This was the worst example of community I’d ever heard of. and a few more families joined. the 29 . But as time went on. the community began to become more like a commune. but as the membership dwindled.

If someone gives something into the community. This group has been around since the 1970’s. In addition other members live on individually owned properties nearby. so we can’t possibly make such promises. This isn’t the stock market. The community property is a working farm and also has an area that’s open to the public. And we can’t possibly know what the future income and ability of the community is going to be. The community also has a school where they teach homesteading skills. Homestead Heritage located in Chalk Bluff Texas. The lesson we can learn from this example is. then it should remain as community property. I had the pleasure of meeting a family from the community 30 . and the ability to buy out got smaller and smaller. But I would never encourage promising some kind of buy out. In addition. in fact I’d encourage that ex-members always be sent away with something. it’s dangerous to promise to buy out shares of members as they leave. I can understand not wanting to send people away empty handed.Community: Looking at the Possibilities business’s workforce got smaller. once again. They have several shops where members either work or sell their products to visitors. They have over 500 acres of land and about 270 members living on that land. Community Five. Yeshua must be the focus.

and New Brunswick NB. and as for the third community I have not been able to locate it. and non-plain churches as well. is a Messianic community called the House of Aaron.Chapter 3 Many Forms of Community some years ago. Community Seven. Holland KY. Old Order Mennonites. one is in Scottsville KY another is in Delano TN both of which are now under the oversight of the Old Order Mennonites. although several of my friends have visited. I have not visited their 31 . There were a total of four of these communities Cookeville TN. Elmo Stoll was an Old Order Amish bishop he also wrote a regular column in Family Life Magazine. As of the time of this writing I am yet to take up their invitation to visit the community. I’m told that there are three other communities that grew out of that movement. The members of the CC’s co-owned the land and buildings but not personal possessions. Decatur TN. The community hosts an annual fair or open-house event where they demonstrate various things they do. Community Six. German Baptists. the Christian Communities started by Elmo Stoll. The CC’s attracted members from several backgrounds Amish. before leaving the Amish and starting these communities. After the death of Elmo Stoll in 1998 all the CC’s eventually dissolved.

The family that owns the property actually farms the acreage for their own income. There are three families living there and some single people. Community Eight. three in Utah and one in Missouri. As I understand there is community work in a large vegetable garden but most everyone works outside of the community for their income. Everyone owns their possessions yet they do share the use of their possessions with one another. Meetings are held in member homes and rotated each Sabbath. The community has a thriving farm in the Utah desert. As I understand they have communal meals in a community dining hall. They have four communities in total.Community: Looking at the Possibilities communities. though I do not recall exactly how many. It is a large farm. There are a couple of houses and small cabins as well. as of the time of this writing. is a Messianic community in Idaho. They have a very interesting video online. but I have gone over their website a bit. The land and buildings are owned by one family and the other members technically rent from them. Each family lives in their own home but the community retains ownership of the property. 32 . They do not have a community purse and seemed to be strongly opposed to the idea.

Members have part time jobs. The members live in old RV’s. or school buses. The basic idea is one of the simplest forms of community.Chapter 3 Many Forms of Community Campground Community I haven’t known just a whole bunch of people who have actually done this. or some other so-called waste land. however if a need arises it is quickly met by the brotherhood. the group does not have a name but they have been referred to as the Tuckahoe Community. or maybe buy some reclaimed strip-mine land. Unless you live in an RV. The community was started in the late 33 . but I have known a few. Because there are no permanent buildings or septic systems. or small businesses. everyone has an outhouse (pit privy). These groups rarely have a community purse and they rarely have co-ownership of possessions. Typically each family is responsible for themselves. Every now and then I hear of small groups who might buy an old campground. as the members often pile into a bus or van and go street preaching or witnessing. or mobile home trailers. maintenance and taxes are very cheap. I should add that these kinds of communities don’t seem to last very long. The sharing of the Gospel usually is a focal point for these groups. Community One. or put up simple cabins or mini-barns.

They also have their own school. I understood that they grew some of their own food. they visited local stores to see when the store would be throwing out food that was past its due-by-date. who for a time had lived in the Tuckahoe Community previously mentioned. The group started in the U.Community: Looking at the Possibilities 1990’s by Alfred Amstutz and was located in the U. and continued for about two years or so before most of the community decided to move to Bolivia. was started by a Messianic Jewish brother.S. Each house had a water pump outside. and another family had a large mini-barn they converted into a home. The group had a few cabins and a trailer. When I spoke with Alfred about the community in late 2007 he informed me that the community in Bolivia had eight families and some singles in addition to the people that they minister to.S.. David also bought land in Bolivia and is 34 . they did not have electricity or indoor plumbing and they all had outhouses. in southern Ohio. in addition. Everyone was self-employed and had the freedom to travel on short missionary journeys. David Cohen.. The community seems to be doing better in Bolivia than what they ever did in the U. Community Two. They all lived very simply. a few steps from the door.S.

Community Three. Today he is rethinking what to do with the campground as his family is currently the only family living there. As I understood he bought a campground which had some small cabins. was started by another acquaintance of mine who wouldn’t like his name shared. he was in the process of building three houses. This ultimately led to more family time and time for helping others. As I understand the community lasted three or four years. The last time I talked with him. Their intent was to have a community that lived very simply with a back to basics approach.Chapter 3 Many Forms of Community likewise building a community there. He intended to retain ownership of the property until a core group was established. The community would have been Anabaptist leaning. Revival meetings and week long family camps took place at the campground annually. Members would share community work etc. About the closest I’ve come to experiencing this kind of community was as a boy. The church we attended co-owned a campground along with a couple other churches. I remember days of revival meetings and 35 . His vision for the community was a very simple farm. Several people moved there and they seemed to be doing well for a while.

I even tried to buy that campground several years later with the thought of reopening it as a community. would gather together for fellowship meals. The most memorable events for me were the family camps. I’ve many times reflected on how much of a blessing this kind of atmosphere was to me. And many times I’ve thought of how a similarly structured community could also be a blessing. Then we’d break for that nightly fellowship meal. We stayed up late into the night fellowshipping and discussing these issues.Community: Looking at the Possibilities nights of fellowship. Every evening several campfires were lit and various families. The mornings started with gathering in the dining hall for breakfast and devotional time. staffed by volunteers. I was deeply impacted by the adult’s conversations about God. The campground had a sort of hotel-type of building and a communal dining hall. 36 . The afternoon was spent in a revival service that lasted into the evening time. church. Most people brought along tents or RV’s. Each family provided lunch for themselves. followed by family time that took us up to lunchtime. in a cell-group fashion. the Bible and missions. Although such meetings only lasted a week at a time.

Babies crying at night might wake up the whole commune. This is a very cost effective form of community. Large groups of children playing together are much louder than just a few. the benefits of community are multiplied in commune. If a disagreement arises between individuals.Chapter 3 Many Forms of Community Commune In this case. they still have to live in the same house. It could also be done on a smaller piece of land than most other forms of 37 . Commune might also mean that all the possessions are co-owned. Commune requires that you live like one big family. Typically this form of community would also have a business where each member would work. Personal time may be difficult to get. Commune will greatly reduce living expenses. Commune could bring close families closer together. “Commune” in most cases would also mean that all meals are on a set schedule and eaten together in the dining hall. I’m talking about a group of believers who live in the same house or a building which would resemble a large house in that it would have various public rooms (common rooms) and the bedrooms and bathrooms would probably be the only private rooms in the building. but it comes at a price of great self-sacrifice. On the other hand.

and I suppose it was.. when I had first caught on to the idea of community. D. everyone built up a nice savings which was a help in many ways.Community: Looking at the Possibilities community. by the end there were six adults. opinions. They had a community purse and lived in common households. There where five adults at the start. Some people might have considered it a commune. we also sometimes shared cars. D.C. and a seventh adult preparing to move in.C. after the name of the community. Everyone had their own jobs and we split expenses. located in Southern Columbia Heights. Community One. In 1975. this group started in the 1970’s. The whole thing lasted a total of only two and a half years. In 1971 they began to publish an evangelical magazine called the Post American. The group continued to grow 38 . in Washington. The Sojourners. the magazine name was changed to Sojourners magazine. Living costs were cheaper and car insurance was cheaper. and agendas for being there. During that time however. Everyone loved the idea of living in one house and saving money on just about everything. when the group moved to Washington. one child. But everyone really did have their own ideas. I decided to open my home to some relatives. Community Two.

lived in the apartment building. As I understood it. Nomadic Community These are groups that mostly live communally and share most or all of their possessions. however I’m not sure if they still have a functioning commune or not. I got the privilege of helping with the project and connecting the buildings together. Anyway. which had much in common with the Mennonites. I didn’t get a real good chance to know these people. Everyone in the church. communal living was part of their culture and they could very easily see how it extended into their faith. As the name suggests these people are nomadic and move from place to place. 39 . These Hmong people had their own church. They were Hmong people who had gotten in contact with a Mennonite church and moved to the U.S.Chapter 3 Many Forms of Community and as I understood they developed a “neighborhood center” and have several outreach programs. as far as I knew. The magazine is still in publication today. to use as a meeting house. Community Three. sometimes possessions are owned individually. they bought an apartment building and built a metal building next to it.

a covered horse drawn wagon. It has also been suggested that they were of Jewish ancestry. Some scholars believe the Roma may have originally come from Northern India. the Roma or Romani live primarily in Europe. Community Two. They are actually an ethnic group and they are not all Christians.Community: Looking at the Possibilities Community One. They send small groups into Sudan to seek opportunities to share the Gospel. during World War II over 500. Some Roma 40 . Governments have enslaved and persecuted these people for centuries. a word that implies that they came from Egypt. Nomadic Christians is a name that has been applied to a nameless group of Christians living in Kenya. Some of them still live in caravans. but I do believe these people are one of the best examples of the nomadic groups. These people risk their lives daily to share the Gospel. I’m actually impressed by their willingness to give everything to God.000 Roma were sent to Nazi death camps. because of the persecution that Christians are going through in Sudan. I won’t say much here about these people. but some are. They are one of the ethnic groups that Hitler wanted to eradicate. They roam from place to place sharing the Gospel. The Roma have been referred to as gypsies.

but not all.Chapter 3 Many Forms of Community have settled into communities. As I understand it. I also want to make it clear that I’m not promoting these groups or their way of living. I’d also like to point out that none of these groups have any connection to any Anabaptist churches or 41 . these people. Most of these kinds of groups even I would classify as cults. However. These examples also inspire me but sometimes concern me. Some are devout believers who are willing to completely deny themselves to serve God and share the Gospel. Radical Nomadic Community I felt it necessary to put the following groups in a classification of their own. although typically closed to outsiders. are very open to sharing what they own with each other. these kinds of groups are actually growing at a steady rate and they are attracting enough interest and attention that I feel I should at least mention some of them and discuss their approach to community life. I would not pass off every radical nomadic group. My concern is in how it’s done and why it’s done. mostly because they are very different from the groups that I previously mentioned. They are very strong on their traditions and have very strong family ties.

Each one of these groups is different and each one functions differently. the majority of them live in Europe and also some of them live in the U.. Today it’s estimated that they have around 100 members. and India. They estimate their membership at about 10. in the 1970’s. in 1971. However. there are usually three 42 . The Community of Believers is a group that started in the U. Today that particular group has about 600.Community: Looking at the Possibilities Messianic groups that I’m aware of. These groups have also had an impact. there are at least three nomadic groups referred to by this name.S. They are an international nomadic Christian movement. I’ve listed the five best known radical nomadic groups here. The Two-by-Twos. The Jesus Christians have been around since 1980 they started out in Australia and today have members in the U. U. on the larger society around them.. Kenya.S. The Brothers and Sisters also called the Robert’s People started in the U.S. They all also have offshoot groups that grew out of the main group as certain issues arose. in some way.000 members worldwide.000 members worldwide.K. One of these groups traces its history back to 1895.S. but not in any particular order.

these kinds of groups typically live in the cities. and sends certain families to different areas for evangelistic purposes. small children. cooking. a park. The sisters. rest-areas. Some would 43 . They find an area that they feel is suitable and they rent a house. which they live in. Type Two. of course. etc. At that time they might send some brothers to scout a new location. Then they pack up their few possessions and move to the next place. or at truck-stops. while the others will do most of the ministry work.Chapter 3 Many Forms of Community ways in which this type of community is lived out. The ones that get hired quickly will be the bread winners. usually a camper-van. The group stays at their location until they feel that their work in the area is done. cleaning. The brothers who minister spend the day on the streets getting to know the people. in these groups each family owns an old RV. Singles make up the majority of the membership among the groups that operate this way or similarly. or a big van converted into a camper. And most of these groups would function similarly. They might park their RV at a campground. The group moves from place to place. Type One. take care of the house. Married members usually leave after having a child or two. or a small motor home. The brothers all go out and look for jobs.

Enough money is earned to cover basic living expenses some is set aside for traveling and for covering periods of unemployment during which time evangelism becomes the focus. or maybe sleep in an abandoned building. The biggest problem I have with these “radical groups” is that most have no family life. Historically Yeshua and the Apostles lived this way while they traveled.Community: Looking at the Possibilities even park over-night in parking lots of large stores or shopping malls. it is often done while traveling to a new location. Living this way is a little more rare. or find temporary work in exchange for a room. it’s so hard to live like this that the parents pretty much have to leave the community. Single men could more easily live this life. Upon entering a new location the man gets a temporary job. And by the time a child is school age. but once they marry and children start being born it’s more difficult. is a bit more radical than the others. It is very difficult to live this way continually. but the Apostles had houses and their 44 . These groups would pitch tents in secluded locations. however. Type Three. Radical Nomadic community is rare. a few groups do live this way most of the time. or just sleep outside under the stars. Personally I can see why.

not only that. Living expenses are kept very low by all of these kinds of groups. Most of the time these foods are still good. In America grocery stores are required by law to discard all foods that have not been sold by there due-by-date (expiration date). unless someone asks to have them. and of course some of the groups will try and find 45 . but the law requires that they be thrown out anyway.Chapter 3 Many Forms of Community families stayed there while they were gone. all of them and their people lived nomadically to. they actually traveled around a small area and it was accepted in their culture. and products that are a couple days old will get thrown away. and the family life didn’t suffer or get pushed aside. Moses. Restaurants. Most of the radical nomadic groups know about this and they visit grocery stores and ask the manager if they could sort through and have the food that was being discarded by the store. The same is true for bakeries. Jacob. throw out food every night. Free food is often searched out at each new location. Abraham. and in most cases only real necessities are purchased. Day old products are sold cheaply. but the groups were large enough that needs could be easily met. Isaac. In addition they were not really gone for very long either. particularly buffet restaurants.

Because. The ability to reach the lost is multiplied even beyond that of the commune. and the mobility of the group is greater. In some ways though I can see a great tool of missions work in the idea of radical nomadic community. although this is typically a form of commune. the amounts of possessions are fewer. Some groups have been known to even sift through garbage dumpsters at stores and restaurants.Community: Looking at the Possibilities arrangements to take the wasted food before it hits the garbage can. the groups are smaller. I can see a group of missionaries coming from another form of community and living this way to a very limited extent for a time. 46 . then returning home to their community. a practice I’d greatly discourage and it clearly goes against Scripture.

By paying attention we can see acts of community in some degree or another. because it doesn’t say a whole lot in that area. the following is just a few of those examples. In addition I also mention some Israelite groups who began in the Tanach (Old Testament) time period. 47 . but we have to look hard and pay attention. The Tanach (Old Testament) does give us small glimpses into the everyday lives of the people.Chapter 4 Community in the Oldest Testament Chapter 4 Community in the Oldest Testament When reading the Tanach (Old Testament) if we try and notice the culture or try and put together a model of everyday life in that time it really is difficult.

Noah Genesis 5:28-10:32. Then ask yourself this question. but what they don’t realize. 13:7-8. So many people automatically assume that Abraham’s wealth must have been for himself. & 14:14 are some of the verses which let us in on the fact that Abraham was not traveling alone. is that Abraham was taking care of a big group of people. how difficult would it have been to live an individualistic lifestyle while sealed inside the ark for about a year (compare Genesis 7:11 & 8:14)? Also be sure to notice how after the flood Noah and his adult sons seemed to have stayed together. how else could they have stayed pure and separate from the ungodliness that was going on around them? Abraham & Isaac Genesis 12:5. There are also places that tell us Abraham was wealthy. probably because of lack of reading and studying the Scripture. In fact Genesis 14:14 tells us that among Abraham’s 48 . read the Biblical account of Noah and his family very carefully. Also consider that before the flood they must have been very close as well.Community: Looking at the Possibilities who may not be mentioned in the Bible.

Chapter 4 Community in the Oldest Testament

group, notice this was after he and Lot separated, there were three hundred eighteen (318) trained fighting men, that number doesn’t include the untrained men or the numbers in the families of all the men either. If we only considered the three hundred eighteen (318) and thought about the fact that most of them, and more likely all of them, were probably married and had children. Then we’d come to the realization that there would have been probably over three hundred eighteen (318) families as well. That’s a big group. If we calculate that every man had one wife and only four children then we come up with one thousand nine hundred eight (1,908) people not including Abraham and Sarah or the unmarried adults, and again we’re also not including the untrained men and their families. Now let me fill you in on another factor. During this time it was not uncommon for a man and his wife to have six, eight, or more children. And also during this time some men would take two wives and sometimes more. So we really don’t know how big of a group Abraham was traveling with, but using extremely conservative numbers we came up with one thousand nine hundred eight (1,908) people, however the real numbers could have been two or three times more. So Abraham’s wealth was


Community: Looking at the Possibilities

obviously being used to take care of all these people. Abraham and his people were nomadic; they traveled around the land that God gave Abraham. They lived in tents, they were shepherds. They spun wool to make clothing and tents. They probably traded with some other people as well. But basic everyday things like food, water, clothing, garbage, sewage. How do you think they dealt with these things? They must have lived communally to some extent. Not every individual could have owned all the equipment and supplies for spinning, sewing, dying wool, looms for making cloth, equipment for butchering and preparing and preserving foods, rope and rope making equipment, tools for digging wells, jars and jar making equipment, baskets and basket making equipment, tools for metal working, tools for leather making, equipment for making harnesses and saddles for camels or donkeys, and hundreds of other things. If every individual would have owned all these things, then they would have needed a fleet of hundreds of semi-trucks to move from place to place. That sounds ridiculous, right, we know they didn’t have semis. But we do know that they moved from place to place. So it’s obvious that some


Chapter 4 Community in the Oldest Testament

families worked together. Some doing one thing and some another but ultimately sharing their skills and possessions with one another. How unlike the modern world! Today, in developed countries, particularly here in the U.S. just about everyone has a lawn mower, two or three automobiles, hand-tools, power-tools, appliances that get used once in a while, and the list goes on and on. And all these things cost thousands of dollars and take up several square feet of storage space. But when we live in community it’s different. The man who’s an auto mechanic has the automotive tools. The woodworker has the wood working tools. The grounds keeper has the lawn mower and tiller. And so on, and so on. If you need to borrow something then you go and borrow it. What a savings on time, space, money, and worrying about how to get it all done. And the benefit gotten from that lifestyle, more free time, should be spent in service to God and family time. Jacob After Jacob left his father’s group, and after Jacob went through his ordeal with Laban, Jacob had a really big family. When Jacob’s children grew up they


And surely these people shared their skills and goods as well. so it’s obvious that they shared possessions. everyone accept Joseph. the Bible gives us the impression that Moses’ group moved around more than Abraham’s group did. as each family was responsible to gather manna for themselves.Community: Looking at the Possibilities all stayed together with all their families. Exodus 16:18 …he that gathered much had nothing over. 52 . I’m just saying that they shared what they had. Some sources estimate that there might have been as many as three million people in this group. Jacob’s group was also nomadic. However. they had to. Now I’m not trying to say that they co-owned everything. and he that gathered little had no lack… The fact that Moses’ group daily gathered their manna together is an example of communal work and also family work. So not every individual owned all kinds of things. Moses Moses and the Israelites were nomadic like Abraham’s group.

So David and the others went ahead. the Bible tells us. They were too weak to go any further. In fact David and his brethren were going to rescue their wives and children. 1 Samuel 30:21-25 And David came to the two hundred men. and to meet the people 53 . Keep in mind that these guys had their wives and children along. Otherwise they would not have been able to avoid Saul as well as they did. which were so faint that they could not follow David. And upon returning from the battle. and some of his brethren could not go on. Furthermore David made it a law from that day forward that all spoils were to be divided equally between the people. that it was wicked men who said not to share the spoils of the battle with those who stayed behind. whom they had made also to abide at the brook Besor: and they went forth to meet David. In 1 Samuel chapter 30. David and his men had to live in some form of communal system. And David rebuked them and parted the goods equally. David was on his way to battle.Chapter 4 Community in the Oldest Testament King David Certainly the time when David was running from King Saul and hiding in remote places.

just do a study on the lives of Elijah and Elisha and you will find them. however. with that which the Lord hath given us. there are other verses that I encourage you to find on your own. Then answered all the wicked men and men of Belial. we will not give them ought of the spoil that we have recovered. of those that went with David. Ye shall not do so. save to every man his wife and his children. 54 .Community: Looking at the Possibilities that were with him: and when David came near to the people. and depart. that he made it a statute and an ordinance for Israel unto this day. that they may lead them away. Then said David. so shall his part be that tarrieth by the stuff: they shall part alike. Because they went not with us. my brethren. And it was so from that day forward. who hath preserved us. and delivered the company that came against us into our hand For who will hearken unto you in this matter? but as his part is that goeth down to the battle. The Sons of the Prophets (9th Century BC? – 8th Century BC?) The main Biblical reference that I’m going to use for this group is 2 Kings 6:1-7 & 4:38-44. and said. he saluted them.

Chapter 4 Community in the Oldest Testament

The Sons of the Prophets were the followers of Elijah and Elisha. The communal attitude of this group is easily seen in 2 Kings Chapter 6, especially in verses 2 & 3. In these verses the whole group wants to move together to an area along the Jordan River, furthermore they are asking Elisha to come and live with them. The Simplistic attitude of the group is easily seen in the 5th verse of 2 Kings Chapter 6, referring to the fact that they borrowed some of the tools they needed rather than running out and buying them. An example of a communal meal is given in 2 Kings Chapter 4. In verse 39 and verse 42 is an example of sharing among the brotherhood. Other historical sources (see Bibliography) tell us that there were at least three of these communities. They were located in Bethel, Jericho, and Gilgal, the Bible also makes reference to them. We may not know exactly to what extent this group practiced communal living, but we can see it in the Biblical narrative alone, then upon taking into consideration the rest of the Scriptures and the obvious history of God’s people, it’s not hard to see. The Rechabites (9th Century BC – 6th Century BC?) The Bible introduces us to this group in Jeremiah


Community: Looking at the Possibilities

chapter 35, and 2 Kings 10:15-28, and refers to them in several other places. History tells us the Rechabites existed mostly unchanged for more than two hundred fifty years. Their history seems to become unclear around the time of the Babylonian exile in the 6th Century BC. However, Rechabites had special duties in the Temple that was built after the return from exile. The Rechabites strongly opposed Baal worship. They rejected all luxuries, the settled lifestyle, and religious political corruption. Living as a nomadic communal group they dwelled in tents and moved from place to place in the land. Another practice they maintained, which was similar to the Nazarites, the Rechabites would not drink wine; however their vow was for life. The Jews Previous to Yeshua’s Time In this case I’m referring to the Israelite group in Judea about the time just prior to the Intertestamental period, and the Intertestamental period itself, and continuing on through the time of Yeshua. If a young man wanted to get married one of the things he did was; he had to talk with his father first. Various things were done, but typically one of those


Chapter 4 Community in the Oldest Testament

things was that the young man built a “mansion”. A mansion is a room. It’s a room built on to his father’s house. The young man would labor on his room and when he thought he was finished his father would inspect it. The father would either approve the room or give the young man further direction. But when the room was finished the young man would go get his bride. Some sources say that normally the newlyweds would live in their mansion, their room, for their entire married life; other sources say some newlyweds would live there for only their first year of marriage, yet others claim up to five years. But either way, they would sleep in that room with their children (if they were there that long) and that room was their private space, their apartment. The father’s house would have many mansions. There was a large main room, a sort of living room and dining room all in one. The kitchen was in the back, although most cooking was done outside. The mansions were added on as needed. If the father had five married sons then there would be five mansions. If there were eight or ten sons then there were eight or ten mansions. The sons would normally all live in their father’s house along with their wives and children as long as there was room. When the Father died the eldest son got the


Essenes (2nd Century BC – 2nd Century AD) This was a communal order of Jewish men. this was also practiced by most other Jewish groups of the period. The Essenes condemned slavery and bought slaves only to free them.000 members. would have to go and build their own houses. as they began to marry. Their communities were located in the area referred to as Palestine and also in Syria. New members would be baptized by full immersion upon joining the Essenes. A novice member would have a probationary period of three years before being allowed to become a full member. This practice was also adopted by John the 58 . New Members came not only from the outside but also from among the orphaned children the society adopted. and from freed slaves.Community: Looking at the Possibilities house and his brother’s sons. neither the freed slaves nor the adopted children the society raised. Their estimated membership seemed to stay around 4. none of them were obligated to join the order. New members joined upon renouncing wealth and material possessions. In addition. But it was not uncommon to find a house filled with three and four generations living together on a continual basis.

a love for God. They practiced community of goods (co-ownership of possessions). Therapeutae This was a Jewish group which thrived during the first century AD.Chapter 4 Community in the Oldest Testament Baptist and continued into the formation of the early assemblies or churches. The group’s members lived in separate rooms. and participation in commerce. Distribution of goods was made as needed. and strict about cleanliness. and human life. On the Sabbath the members met for their communal meal and a time of discussion and singing. The Therapeutae are only described in De vita contemplativa by the Hellenistic-Jewish philosopher Philo Judaeus. all property was handed over to the community upon joining. at times possibly going into the early morning 59 . Their communities were self-sufficient farms. Members only ate an evening meal where the men and women sat separately. The main beliefs and practices of the Essenes were. Religious meetings would last most of the night. They mainly spent their days studying Scripture and also in prayer. making weapons. They wore white clothing. They prohibited animal sacrifice. virtue. swearing oaths. The Essenes were strict Sabbath keepers.

I encourage you to look up further information on your own. Some scholars believe that the Therapeutae may have been Jewish-Christians. Hashshaim (the “silent ones”) Hasidim Harishonim (the “ancient saints or elders”) Nigiyye Had Da ‘ath (the “pure of mind”) Tsenium (the “modest or chaste ones”) Wattiqim (the “men of exactitude”) 60 . Some have suggested that the group may have separated from the Essenes. I’m just going to list some of these other groups here and the interpretation of what their name means. however most insist that they were strictly a Jewish group. Other Groups There were actually several other communal groups which existed during Tanach or Old Testament times. The Therapeutae had many things in common with the early Christian monastic orders.Community: Looking at the Possibilities hours.

or thought to be a prophet. The word rabbi literally means “my master”. speaking of a religious father. or a spiritual or religious teacher. who was highly educated in Scripture. It also refers to “my father”. and beyond.Chapter 5 Community in the Newest Testament Chapter 5 Community in the Newest Testament The Rabbis During the Intertestamental Period and continuing through the life of Yeshua. was the Jewish practice where a person. Yeshua specifically tells us: 61 . was called a rabbi.

which is in heaven. Essenes. What these rabbis did was teach people how to live and behave according to their interpretation of God’s Word. As a result. would have formed in this way. their relationship would be much like that of a family. they would typically live as closely as possible. For the most part. The disciples wanted not only to know what the rabbi knew but to be what the rabbi was. And call no man your father upon the earth: for one is your Father. Sadducees. When Yeshua condemned the actions of the Pharisees. and all ye are brethren. His disciples would also eat with him and in many cases sleep in the same house. a rabbi would have disciples who followed him around and listened to his teaching. and all the others. Zealots. The rabbis disciples were more than just students. communities of followers developed as the rabbis following grew. He was not condemning what they supposedly stood for. Herodians. even Christ. Groups such as the Pharisees. Neither be ye called masters: for one is your Master. Instead 62 .Community: Looking at the Possibilities Matthew 23:8-10 But be not ye called Rabbi: for one is your Master. a father and his children. even Christ.

Come and see. 63 . Rabbi.Chapter 5 Community in the Newest Testament He was condemning the fact that they held rituals and religious traditions in higher regard than what they did the people. And looking upon Yeshua as he walked. (which is to say. and saw them following.) where dwellest thou? He saith unto them. and saith unto them. Furthermore they didn’t always practice what they preached. Master. Behold the Lamb of God. he saith. And the two disciples heard him speak. and abode with Him that day: for it was about the tenth hour. being interpreted. and had no problem with his disciples leaving him to follow Yeshua. What seek ye? They said unto him. They came and saw where he dwelt. and they followed Yeshua. even though they claimed to be righteous. When we read about John the Baptist. and two of his disciples. we see that he not only came baptizing but he also had disciples. John 1:35-39 Again. the next day after John stood. Then Yeshua turned.

Yeshua’s following was so large that He would go to remote places to deliver His sermons. Likewise the same was true with Yeshua. However. They would have assisted him and listened to his every word in an attempt to one day be like him. but many did regard Him as a prophet. His disciples followed Him in the same way. and ate whatever he ate. By the time of the Crucifixion. They most likely would have dressed as he dressed. in how they followed him. Yeshua’s following was so large that His 64 . They would have lived in the desert with John. His following grew and He later appointed another seventy (see Luke chapter 10). many of those followers had worldly things in mind and not the spiritual things that Yeshua was ultimately talking about. Although Yeshua had this huge following not all these people were real disciples. When John the Baptist was killed. The Gospels tell us about Yeshua appointing twelve as apostles. These other seventy are not typically viewed as apostles. Yeshua sailed away to be alone but when He landed on the shore there were people waiting for Him to hear His Words (see Matthew 14:13-14).Community: Looking at the Possibilities John’s disciples would not have been any different from any others. There was never a rabbi who ever had the following that Yeshua has.

communities of believers were established. who probably did not know about Yeshua’s miracles or teachings. when Jerusalem was filled with Jews from all over. about 9:00 AM in today’s terms. in the early fourth century. But it would also seem that once Yeshua was in the hands of the rulers. almost everyone abandoned Him completely. Qumran Brotherhood (1st Century AD) In 1947 the Dead Sea Scrolls were found. Even through the Middle-Ages and through the Reformation. By the time anyone else really knew what was happening He was completely in the hands of the Romans. Communities continued to sprout from what came to called Christianity up to the beginnings of the Catholic church. The Bible says the third hour. Yeshua was crucified in the morning.Chapter 5 Community in the Newest Testament enemies had to arrest Him in the middle of the night just before the Passover. How they encouraged one another. After His resurrection. the Book of Acts tells us about the community of the believers. and shared their possessions. Since 65 . And so unknowingly these men took part in the fulfillment of prophecy. All this because they knew there would be a riot if this were done during the day. when everyone could see and hear of it.

They believed they were the ones who would help usher in the Messianic Age. the Kingdom of God. were the followers of John the Baptist. appears to have been one of the leaders of this group. At first the group was believed to have been an Essene Community. and they seem to have had the same message as John the Baptist. The 66 . through excavating the caves they were found in. In their early days the group looked forward to the coming of the Messiah and believed that their era would end with His coming. Some researchers have speculated that the Qumran Brotherhood. however they differed in various ways from the Essenes. James the brother of Christ. Later discoveries connected this group with the Jerusalem church. researchers discovered this group.Community: Looking at the Possibilities then. a name applied by the researchers. the peak of their activity was the same time period as John the Baptist. described in the book of Acts. The leader of the order was aided by three priests. The Qumran Brotherhood was a communal group. The priests chose twelve other brothers to aid them in their duties. who also wrote the Epistle of James in the Bible. The leadership was set up and modeled similar to that of Moses. by preparing the way. The Qumran Brotherhood preached in the same area as John the Baptist.

and communal meals. The community was destroyed by the Romans in 68 AD.Chapter 5 Community in the Newest Testament giving up of possessions and sharing of community property was a requirement of membership. It was about the time of Yeshua when the settlement began. In an area called Qumran. this religious settlement began. Yeshua was homeless and moved from place to place like a nomad. Matthew 8:20 And Yeshua saith unto him. The foxes have holes. but the Son of man hath not where to lay his head. First of all. by another group many years prior. Further excavation revealed that the area had been inhabited before. near the northwestern shore of the Dead Sea. worship. The community members lived in the caves in the cliffs. 67 . Excavation of the site revealed various rooms in the caves used for study. Yeshua and the Apostles What the majority of people seem to not catch on to is the fact that Yeshua lived what most people would call an extreme or radical life. and the birds of the air have nests.

and at night he went out. And Judas also. and his disciples. or what they would eat. or what they would wear. knew the place: for Yeshua oftimes resorted thither with his disciples.Community: Looking at the Possibilities Luke 21:37 And in the day time he was teaching in the temple. and there he abode. John 18:1-2 When Yeshua had spoken these words. John 10:40 And went away again beyond Jordan into the place where John at first baptized. Yeshua taught His disciples not to worry about where they would sleep. that God would provide as long as they did their part. which betrayed him. Yeshua taught His disciples to not even think about these things. he went forth with his disciples over the brook Cedron. His disciples would have also lived like this. 68 . and abode in the mount that is called the mount of Olives. Being that Yeshua lived a homeless and nomadic lifestyle. into which he entered. where was a garden.

For all these things do the nations of the world seek after: and your Father knoweth that ye have need of these things. 69 . and to morrow is cast into the oven. Therefore I say unto you. O ye of little faith? And seek not ye what ye shall eat. neither for the body. what ye shall eat. that Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. and the body is more than raiment. Consider the ravens: for they neither sow nor reap.Chapter 5 Community in the Newest Testament Luke 12:22-34 And he said unto his disciples. If God so clothe the grass. and yet I say unto you. which is to day in the field. and God feedeth them: how much more are ye better than the fowls? And which of you with taking thought can add to his stature one cubit? If ye then be not able to do that thing which is least. how much more will he clothe you. Take no thought for your life. The life is more than meat. neither be ye of doubtful mind. which neither have storehouse nor barn. they spin not. why take ye thought for the rest? Consider the lilies how they grow: they toil not. what ye shall put on. or what ye shall drink.

and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come and follow me. there will your heart be also. For where your treasure is.Community: Looking at the Possibilities But rather seek ye the kingdom of God. and give alms. and all these things shall be added unto you. for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom. Notice in the above verses Yeshua was talking to all the disciples. He taught them to sell absolutely everything. little flock. go and sell that thou hast. Yeshua taught His disciples to sell off unnecessary items. and give the money to the poor. neither moth corrupteth. I personally believe Yeshua’s teachings are that we sell whatever we don’t need. 70 . a treasure in the heavens that faileth not. provide yourselves bags which wax not old. and some people would even say. which in modern America is just about everything. Matthew 19:21-24 Yeshua Said unto him. where no thief approacheth. Fear not. Sell that ye have. and give to the poor. if thou wilt be perfect.

and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come. a treasure in the heavens that faileth not. And when Yeshua saw that he was very sorrowful. neither moth corrupteth. he said. and give alms.Chapter 5 Community in the Newest Testament But when the young man heard that saying. follow me. and distribute unto the poor. where no thief approacheth. Verily I say unto you. And again I say unto you. he was very sorrowful: for he was very rich. he said unto him. Yet lackest thou one thing: sell all that thou hast. Luke 18:22-24 Now when Yeshua heard these things. provide yourselves bags which wax not old. than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God. he went away sorrowful: for he had great possessions. And when he heard this. How hardly shall they that have riches enter into the kingdom of God! 71 . That a rich man shall hardly enter into the kingdom of heaven. Then said Yeshua unto his disciples. Luke 12:33 Sell that ye have. It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle.

These are just a few verses that show us how counterculture Yeshua’s teachings were then. and if I have taken any thing from any man by false accusation. The homeless and nomadic mode that Yeshua used is probably the most effective form of missionary work. Today many missionaries spend more time raising money to support their mission than what they actually spend in the mission field.Community: Looking at the Possibilities Luke 19:8-10 And Zaccheus stood. And Yeshua said unto him. This is also supported in the Scripture. and are today. Another example is in John 12:6 which tells us that Judas was in charge of the money bag. and said unto the Lord. The idea 72 . For the Son of man is come to seek and to save that which was lost. forsomuch as he also is a son of Abraham. Lord. so they obviously did the common purse thing when traveling. Living a nomadic lifestyle Yeshua and His disciples would have also had to have lived communally. This day is salvation come to this house. Behold. Yeshua taught His disciples to live a very simple life. the half of my goods I give to the poor. I restore him fourfold.

is seldom practiced these days. like Yeshua. Many modern mission boards or church positions are paid positions and the ministers think they have to be careful not to upset the people who ultimately pay their salary. No candy coated preaching went on with Yeshua. 73 . However Yeshua was able to weed out the false disciples. read John 6:66. at one point most of His followers left because of this. would result in the whole of Scripture being preached. as taught by Yeshua. in the book of Acts. By taking this mode Yeshua and His disciples were able to travel more freely and they didn’t worry about stepping on someone’s spiritual toes either. we see a stronger early church because of this.Chapter 5 Community in the Newest Testament of living by faith. But not taking thought of these things. He told the truth and many people were offended at Him. and ultimately.

Community: Looking at the Possibilities 74 .

some did not. I won’t say 75 . Most of these groups faded into Catholicism. Beyond that. They were all communal and there were possibly hundreds of them. but I will say this. there were several groups that would fall into this classification. some were real devout believers and some were not. some were bad.Chapter 6 Community in the Church Age Chapter 6 Community in the Church Age Christian Monastic Orders I’m not really going to say much about these groups in this book. Some of those groups were good.

These Waldenses lived very 76 . and there are still certain branches of the Waldensians today. Waldensian Brethren There are actually two histories presented for the Waldensians. is that the Waldensians existed many centuries prior to Peter Waldo. My main focus in this chapter is going to be on the communities that have been largely classified as Anabaptist and groups who were never part of the Catholic church.Community: Looking at the Possibilities anymore here. the one that fits with actual history. I’ll leave it up to the individual reader to search out further information. there have been these people referred to as “valley dwellers” or “people of the valleys”. the mountainous area bordering France. In Italy in the area known as Piedmont. Some sources claim they’ve been there dating back to the first century. The other story. and these people were referred to as Valdenses or Waldenses. Valdenses. But in the fourth and sixth centuries there apparently were Catholic crusades against a religious group living in these areas. One is that the group originated in the twelfth century with a man named Peter Waldo and by the fifteenth century they were all destroyed by the Catholic crusades against them.

We are also informed by history that they kept the Sabbath although we are not informed as to which day they believed the Sabbath was. If the Catholic church taught that sunday was the Sabbath and the Catholic church persecuted the Waldensians for keeping the Sabbath. They remind me of Hebrews 11:36-40. They wandered from place to place and house to house. They met daily for prayer or some kind of religious meeting. Their clothing was made of undyed wool. Food was sought as a necessity and not to supply the appetite. Missionaries went out empty-handed. whatever color the sheep wore.Chapter 6 Community in the Church Age simply and mostly communally. possibly at times sleeping outdoors. which I encourage you to read. I’ll just ask you a question though. trusting God to supply each need. They did not waste money on things that were not a necessity to life. is whatever color the Waldensians wore. and they hand-copied and translated Scriptures. days of fasting may have been out 77 . These Waldensian Brethren lived in caves or simple structures for houses. Do you think the Waldensians must have been keeping a different day than the Catholic church? Among the Waldensians some brothers would go out on missionary journeys and the other brethren at home took care of their houses if necessary.

At first. Peter sought license from the Catholic Pope to preach and he apparently got his license. Peter’s group preached the Word of God more freely not taking any concern of what the Catholic church had to say. In obedience to the command to “sell all”. who was later given the name Peter Waldo. then he gave everything else away to the poor. he took all his possessions and sold them. From their start Peter’s group lived communally and nomadically. for a time.Community: Looking at the Possibilities of necessity at times as well as done unto God. In the twelfth century a rich merchant in Lyons. France. Their doctrine was very much in line with the Word of God. but certain things lacked. became convicted when reading the Bible. With his money he had the Bible translated into the common language. Selling off possessions and giving away wealth was part of joining the brotherhood. 78 . Eventually Peter was approached by some of the missionaries of the Waldenses. A group of followers grew up around Peter. they were homeless. The Waldenses expounded the Word to him more perfectly. These people were serious about spreading the true Gospel and their communities and self-denial helped enable them to do much more. and the people of the area called them “the Poor Men of Lyons”.

England. but because of this their doctrine was spread further. After some time the Poor Men of Lyons merged with the Waldensians. Germany. who referred to him as “Peter the Restorer”. today there are still some Waldensian communities and churches. Swiss Brethren. Hungary. Argentina and 79 . Slovakia. There are also Waldensians in South America.Chapter 6 Community in the Church Age Sharing their few remaining possessions and moving from place to place with little more than the clothes on their backs they preached the Gospel. North Carolina in the nineteenth century. and the Netherlands. The Waldensian communities helped give rise to the Hussites. There were Waldensians in Italy. Hutterites and many others. Although much has changed. More Catholic crusades were led against the Waldensians. Spain. who continued to live communally just as they always had. France. Peter became the reformer of the Waldensians. Romania. Switzerland. Austria. It is said that Waldensians have been throughout all of Europe. Some Waldensians immigrated to America with colonies in Delaware in the seventeenth century and their largest settlement I know of being Valdese. This unification of the two groups brought in a revival that spread across Europe like wild fire.

A following grew around John Wycliffe. They opposed war. they were referred to by this name because of the way they prayed. They traveled around preaching and passing out portions of Scripture and at times even complete hand copied Bibles when available. the Catholic church. The Lollards continued into the Protestant Reformation and merged with some Anabaptists. They furthermore believed in a classless society and equality. and former followers of Balthasar Hubmaier. and the worship of images. in or around England. I’m not really sure how many Waldensians hold to their groups original beliefs. From the English Baptists came the American 80 .Community: Looking at the Possibilities Uruguay. The Lollards believed the Bible to be the only rule of faith and practice. The word Lollard comes from a Dutch word similar to the English word “Lullaby”. He also began teaching a very simplistic approach to Christianity. Lollards In the 14th Century John Wycliffe translated the Bible to English. and this gave rise to the English Baptists. The Lollards believed in and practiced voluntary poverty and sharing what possessions they had. the group was referred to as the “Poor Preachers” and as “Lollards”.

who were lead by Balthasar Hubmaier. Some had a common purse while others left things in the hands of the individual families. Bohemian Brethren Greatly influenced by both the Lollards and the Waldensian Brethren. Moravia. 200-300 people. Many other penniless refugees came to the area and Hubmaier’s group apparently would not give aid to any. in the early 15th Century. Widemann’s group was not accepted among the Anabaptists of Nikolsburg. the Bohemian Brethren began to rise. seeking refuge before being told to leave. Their communities were mixed in how they functioned. In 1528 Widemann’s group. Jacob Widemann’s group previously practiced community of goods to some extent. this became a necessity as so many refugees were coming into the area. were 81 .Chapter 6 Community in the Church Age Baptists and all their branches. The Bohemian Brethren lived simply and they were equally dedicated to evangelism. Hutterian Brethren These were Anabaptist refugees lead by Jacob Widemann from Germany and the Tyrol who came to Nikolsburg.

Community: Looking at the Possibilities forced to leave Nikolsburg. This group eventually came to be known as Hutterites. The ministers spread a cloak on the ground before the people and everyone laid what few things they had in a pile on that cloak. The missionaries traveled through surrounding countries going as far as what their language skills permitted them to communicate. They chose “ministers of temporal needs”. even though they were moved from place to place. The Hutterite colonies sent out many missionaries “yearly”. Having much in common with the Waldensians the Hutterian Bruderhofs were simple yet at times Hutterite doctors were sought out and Hutterite handicrafts and workmanship was considered some of the best. after the name of one of their most popular ministers. Jacob Hutter. This was the beginning of community of goods (co-ownership of possessions) with these people and a new church or assembly. The Hutterite communities were a place of spiritual refuge for many. the Bruderhof (the place of brothers). Today all the Hutterite colonies are located in the northwestern United States and in Canada. as the old writings say. The name Hutterite was applied by their persecutors. 82 . They camped in a vacated village called Bogenitz.

During their time in Germany and in England. Inspired by the doctrines and ideas of the Hutterites of long ago this group formed unaware that there were still Hutterite colonies in existence. they seem to have had much zeal. and Nigeria. Although I have not been able to verify it. They furthermore gave aid to many Jewish refugees. Another spin off group is in Japan and another one is located in Australia. I’ve heard there might also be another spin-off group in India. during World War II. I’m not familiar with very many of the others. Some time later Eberhard got in contact with the Hutterites and was eventually ordained as a Hutterite Elder. while in England. The founder of this group was a man called Eberhard Arnold. a community called the Society of Brothers was founded. There are also several other spin-off groups from the Hutterites. 83 .Chapter 6 Community in the Church Age In Germany in 1920. and helped them prepare for life in the Kibbutz (Jewish communal farms in Israel). The Society of Brothers moved around a bit before settling in Paraguay. which would later also be called the Bruderhof Communities and the Bruderhof Movement. there are a few others in the U. and was thought of as a reformer.S. then moving to the eastern United States.

They did not do any extensive writings at all. Some discourses by their founder Joseph Bimeler were written down for a deaf member to read but not much else. But as with so many other groups some of their practices I found to be unimpressive. The Zoarites are a group that we really don’t know that much about.500 acres and their original group was about three hundred members. in 1817 and basically died out as a communal society by 1898. Other people wrote about them but they themselves wrote very little. Some of their former members continued to live in the old village until much later.Community: Looking at the Possibilities Zoarites The Separatist Society of Zoar also known as the Zoarites was a communal group in nineteenth century America. Their original property was 5. This is a group that somewhat impressed me in my early walk with the Messiah as I began to study church history and communal societies of the past. There are many photos available of these people and part of their communal town still stands in Ohio. a practice I disagree with. The group did not observe any Sabbath at all. They came to the U.S. They had a church service on sunday out of custom but they put no special 84 .

but they ran a hotel and various other businesses. The group had no evangelistic outreach at all. 85 . or any other traditional Christian holidays.Chapter 6 Community in the Church Age emphasis on sunday at all. They likewise did not celebrate Christmas. Easter. Each morning a clay horn made to resemble a ram’s horn was blown to call everyone to communal work. believing that through these they would come into contact with others and by the testimony of their own lives and actions be an example.

Community: Looking at the Possibilities 86 .

I’ve taken into consideration many things I’ve seen in other communities. I’ve included.Chapter 7 My Visions of Community Chapter 7 My Visions of Community The following are some brief accounts of hypothetical communities. Those things that I think do not work very well. Of course my hypothetical community. I’ve discarded. Those things that I think do work well. like any other. cannot work correctly without God at the center. 87 . They are my personal ideas and opinions of how a community could be run.

While Mr. Perhaps the community center houses the fellowship hall or church meeting place. Everyone has common beliefs and practices therefore they choose to live closer. For example maybe Mr. The community center is a building that can be used for religious services etc. Similarly believing ministries within the community might use the office suites within the building as well. Ministry offices could be a good idea. Basically all the members live as friends and neighbors in close proximity to each other. Every family owns their homes and possessions.Community: Looking at the Possibilities Community One. B has a ministry dedicated to teaching Bible study and Biblical history. perhaps even a place to exercise. perhaps in the same neighborhood or ten mile radius. There should be a rental hall with kitchen available to members of the community center. A has a ministry dedicated to teaching the youth. this community is modeled after the Relaxed Community. and bookstore. The thing that brings them together is the community center. but also could contain a private library. 88 . not just a once a week church. Maybe the center could even house a café. The community center should be a place that people go to often and for various reasons.

The necessary component is a core group that upholds the values etc. As long as the group size does not grow too quickly. A and Mr. that the community itself should portray. Yet I can see more believers in today’s modern America gravitating toward something like this. Mr. B and their families attend services there and are members of the community center. It would be much the same in this situation. Although in this type of community the majority of families would live in 89 . Perhaps in this kind of community we can see more people desiring to participate. Perhaps even the weekly fellowship is led by someone else. The church/fellowship would be in one area with the other ministries offices in a separate area signifying that they are in fact separate. New members often imitate the core group as they try to find their place in a fellowship.Chapter 7 My Visions of Community They could both have space in the community center building and both participate in the weekly church or fellowship even though neither is the official leader of the church or fellowship. the core group’s values should remain intact. Yes it could lead to a bit more diversity than desired as well. I think a small plaza or strip mall type of building would work best for the actual community center building.

no majority votes. Also reaching out to other communities and networking with them to some extent would help stabilize this type of community as well. a week. The trips and other matters would be discussed and decided at an official monthly brothers meeting. depending on what the community and the brothers involved can afford. this community is mostly modeled after the Acts-type-Community and also the Campground Community. Community Two.Community: Looking at the Possibilities their own homes. Each member would be required to have a desire to reach others and to take part in local missionary trips that might occur every month. Membership would be limited to those converted believers who show that they have a deep love for Yeshua. their neighbor and the sharing of the Gospel. Concerning the idea of a unanimous vote. not every brother will always agree right away. a weekend. The trips might be for a day or two. But within a close community which has real brotherly love. where each brother has a voice and decisions must be unanimous. some could come together into small commune situations as well. it 90 . maybe longer. or possibly as long as a month.

but there does need to be leadership. and these positions are always plural (more than one) for each individual fellowship. The Bible does also indicate that the elder’s decisions 91 . elders (also called bishops or pastors) and deacons. The Bible gives us two basic positions of leadership within a singular fellowship. There should not be any hierarchical structure. These elders and deacons together lead.Chapter 7 My Visions of Community will be easier to openly discuss the issues with those brothers who are in disagreement. but actually sets the decisions on the laps of the leaders. Also keep in mind that the Bible does not require decisions to be run past the brotherhood. But if no decision can be reached then the issue can be put on hold or set aside completely or in some cases the leadership can make the final decision. In functioning this way perhaps the majority would see another perspective and be won over to the same decision as the minority or perhaps the minority will understand the issue differently and change their minds and follow the majority. In Scripture the focus of the deacons is more on material help. The elders are the leaders but not the rulers. They are to guide the ministry and teach sound doctrine and correct errors. The deacons are also teachers and leaders but their position falls under the authority of the elders.

Earlier I mentioned monthly mission trips. There might be several cabins or mobile homes. There would be a property of fifty. Members from other fellowships would also be encouraged to contribute to the fund. The amount of land would depend on the number of people and intended land use.Community: Looking at the Possibilities are the final authority in the congregation. Member families could each contribute to the fund. by including the brotherhood and discussing most issues the elders will be better equipped to lead and everyone will feel better being including in the decision making process. one hundred. However. each house having its own one or two acre 92 . or one thousand acres in size. Each family could own their own small family business or even work outside the community if necessary. Funding for those missionary trips might be paid for out of a fund that the community maintains solely for this purpose. Or there could be a community business where most members or all the members work. It would be encouraged that businesses be kept small enough that members do not need to hire employees. but rather each family would fully staff their business with their own family members or if needed possibly other community members.

trees and wildlife habitat. if legal in that area. Each family would be responsible for their own bills. An individual family would each get the use of a house on its parcel. Each member family could pay rent to the community. Every member of the community would own his own possessions and each would be responsible for themselves. between each parcel. the houses might have electricity in the kitchens.Chapter 7 My Visions of Community parcel surrounding it. then divided by the number of member families. Everyone would be encouraged to share 93 . I would at least encourage some green space. for example. On each parcel there would also be a small barn. food. its use would be left up to what the residing family needed to use it for. The land and the buildings would be owned by the community. In addition the houses would not have electricity ran to them or maybe they could have limited electricity. The heat source for each home would be a wood stove and possibly an electric heater for backup. Each parcel. etc. would have an outhouse or composting toilet rather than a septic system. The rent would be an estimated average of annual maintenance and taxes divided by twelve months. The parcels could be spread out and not necessarily all bunched together in the middle of the property.

The benefit from the community retaining ownership of the land and buildings is. are considered to have temporary foundations and usually have much lower taxes. Although if a mobile home has good wiring already in it. lower initial investment and less maintenance. Likewise a composting toilet rather than a septic system is much less expensive. Currently in my area a small septic system costs over ten thousand dollars. it’s very expensive to wire a whole community. The issue of limited or no electricity in the houses is. In most areas mobile homes. pole buildings. And it’s something that can be easily lived without. prices start out around eight hundred dollars. if someone leaves or gets put out of the community. And if someone struggles with the outhouse idea then use a composting toilet. then the community can continue to control the future use of the land. buildings built on piers.Community: Looking at the Possibilities their possessions but not required. just look at the majority of the world. But an outhouse can be built for under a hundred dollars and it’s legal here (at least at the time of this writing). and I’ve heard some people say they’ve spent up to twenty thousand dollars. The benefit of cabins or mobile homes rather than traditional houses is. lower taxes. then don’t feel bad 94 .

My suggestion of one or two acre parcels is that it’s more than big enough for most families to grow all their food. he might come back with a false repentance due to economic pressure in order to be 95 . whose old communities had co-ownership of goods and who have been asked to leave their old communities. Additionally. Everyone retaining personal ownership of possessions rather than community of goods or co-ownership would have the opportunity to share their goods voluntarily rather than by force. Too many times. including small meat animals. then they wouldn’t go away empty-handed. usually because they never practiced co-ownership of goods.Chapter 7 My Visions of Community about occasional use of the electricity. these people gave everything they owned to the community when they joined and have been sent away empty-handed. communities with co-ownership of goods. The empty-handed ones in many cases become some of the worst enemies of that community. if someone would leave or get put out of the community. when a member is put out. I’ve known of ex-community members. Yet the parcels are also small enough to keep the houses close. Likewise also. they seem to heal quicker. But of communities whose ex-members retained their personal possessions upon leaving.

Community meetings would take place there. I had mentioned that each family could run 96 . dairy cows. and a room for freezers. areas that are intended to be used by all the members at any time. or gathering firewood. The meeting house should have electricity and a basement. rather than start life on the outside with nothing. There might also be a community parking area near the meeting house. and although I’d prefer to see home-schooling certain school projects could also take place in this building. The meeting house could have a Laundromat. A community woods might also be useful for many purposes. Trails through the community woods might be nice for walks as well as they’d help with access for occasional small logging projects. The community would also need some public spaces. In the center of the community could be a meeting house. goats. etc. Visitors could also stay in the meeting house when needed. The meeting house should also have a communal kitchen and dining hall for fellowship meals and community food canning projects. sheep. A small community park or a community garden could be beside the meeting house. Additional fields could be used for raising beef.Community: Looking at the Possibilities accepted back into the fellowship.

specialty farming. book writing. importing or brokering necessary and useful items. This would interfere with their freedom to participate in their evangelistic responsibilities. Small scale manufacturing. like retail space. building maintenance. hauling service. professional services. basket making.. The businesses should be home based or family businesses.Chapter 7 My Visions of Community their own business. taxi service. retail brings more potential liability issues. fundraising. contracting. too much outside influence on the children. In addition to this. Some suggestions I would make for businesses are as follows. must legally be designed by a state licensed architect or professional engineer and might even need to be built by state licensed contractors. And the biggest reason. publishing. If at all possible retail or anything else that would depend on customers coming onto community property should be discouraged. janitorial. in the U.S. logging small 97 . any new buildings intended to be open to the general public. advising. Also. lawn mowing and yard maintenance. mail order. and it will tie members down to a rigid schedule. however I might add that these will require further thought and research by anyone considering them. zoning laws are the first reason for this. small scale farming. consulting.

These types of businesses. and we might not see them often. these kinds of businesses and things along these lines. And we know other believers in other fellowships. usually do not require any customers to come around. The reason for this is that the community has the privilege of meeting together daily. all these bring financial benefits. All the self-sacrifice in this hypothetical community. the spiritual and religious issues. which the Bible calls “filthy lucre”. On the more important issues of the community. the low cost housing. but most believers do not. can have a very flexible schedule. The financial benefits are so that the brothers can spend less time working for worldly income. Meetings can be scheduled on a daily basis. growing food. This community is going to encourage and challenge every member to take part in spreading the Gospel. in most cases. Every potential member must have a clear testimony.Community: Looking at the Possibilities acreage. but also everyone should be encouraged to visit other groups as well. and their life needs to be consistent with that testimony. true conversion is a must. and community itself. limited or no electric in houses. and spend more time working on 98 .

The idea is not to grow the community. This part of the vision I barely started describing in the beginning of the book. close enough to see each others faults. if any believers are considering starting a community. However.Chapter 7 My Visions of Community eternal matters. Also community members can greatly strengthen each other in their own lives as well. the prospective members must also be close. close enough to overlook each others faults. and I hope that you 99 . I’m not saying to overlook sin. among truly converted people various forms of community life can be a real blessing and can enable a ministry to accomplish far greater things for the Kingdom of God than what a ministry founded by individualism could offer. And as I also said before. it’s a home base for the ministry. we all get worn out from time to time. This is not just a place to live. I’m talking about minor faults and mistakes. And so I close with questions. then you know we all need a place to come home to. The members will guide new converts to Bible based fellowships and help them get established in their faith. If you’ve ever been out witnessing for any great length of time. The idea is to grow the Kingdom. and close enough to live with each others faults.

Are we living in a lost and dying world? Are these the last days? Are we responsible for sharing the Gospel? How will we share the Gospel? Who will stand with me as I share? Is my life too busy to share the Gospel? Have many believers have lost their vision? Have I lost mine? Isaiah 6:8 Also I heard the voice of the Lord. 100 .. and how to achieve them. Whom shall I send. and who will go for us?. saying.Community: Looking at the Possibilities will consider the answers..

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Community: Looking at the Possibilities 102 .

by Robert Eisenman & Michael Wise. by Thieleman J. 103 . 1994 The Kingdom That Turned The World Upside Down.Bibliography Bibliography Primary Sources: Holy Bible. Van Braght The Dead Sea Scrolls Uncovered. By John Horsch. Arthur Simon. 2003 Martyrs Mirror. 1992 The Hutterian Brethren. by John Foxe How Much is Enough?. Authorized King James Version Encarta Encyclopedia 2002 Fox’s Christian Martyrs.

their own writings concerning their particular community. as well as other communities. and independent studies of various communal groups that either currently exist or have existed. Wells 104 . both throughout history and modern times. Friends and acquaintances from some of the communities discussed in this book. 2003 The Reformers and Their Stepchildren. 1991 The Anabaptists.Community: Looking at the Possibilities by David W. Bercot. and when available. by David W. Bercot. By Norman H. A Visit to the Bruderhof. Bob and Shirley Wagoner. Secondary Sources: Community in Paraguay. 1983 Will The Real Heretics Please Stand Up. 1989 Also personal experience. 1964 Webster’s Dictionary. by Leonard Verduin.

By Richard B.The Hutterian Brethren: Believers in Community. Cook 105 . 1997 The Trail of Blood. Dr. Carroll The Waldenses and Their Contemporaries Taken from “The Story of the Baptists”. J. M. Starland Hutterian Brethren.



ranging from: Messianic. Looking at the Possibilities. A thought provoking and encouraging read. and anything in between. Examples are given. The topic of community is discussed in a well balanced format taking into consideration that there are various types or forms of community life. Brethren. The author shows how examples of communal efforts are present in the Bible as well as throughout church history. is an in depth discussion based on personal experiences with various communal groups.Community. . Hutterites and others. In addition. That call is not limited to any one form of community but could range from participation in a close knit fellowship to commune life. to Anabaptist communities including brief discussions on the Amish. the focus of the community must be on Yeshua (Jesus) the Messiah. He also extends to the reader the call to some form of community. by Philip Crossan.

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