Life in Community

A community meal and sharing time

Days in the life:

Last night was our usual Thursday night friendship meal when friends and members who live nearby come for a meal and fellowship. Hopefully visitors get booked in so the right amount of food is prepared! We never seem to run out. Children racket around a bit or use the office computer for homework etc. New faces get introduced and applauded, sharings are made about coming events. Currently we are having a reading each week from ‘Fire in our Hearts’ which is all about the story of this church. Many who hear it were not around in our ‘early days’ in the 70’s when community was formed. The rest of the evening is eating, washing up and friendship, plus giving some lifts home.

Then something completely different – from 10pm to midnight on Thursdays I drive the minibus with Ann and a supporting friend for our outreach to the working girls (aka prostitutes) of the Hillfields area. We cruise round the beat and stop for girls. They normally hop in, have a hot drink and a chat and often we pray with them before they go back to work. There are many heart-rending stories. Last night a girl told us that her pimp had broken a clay vase on her head and she had many scars. She was desperate to escape before he killed her, so we will put her in contact with a local charity that can hopefully offer her safe accommodation. She has a drug problem too, or we might have taken her away ourselves.

(She did get away in the end, and the guy who was abusing her was later done for murder which he committed since I wrote the above).

On Tuesdays we have our covenant meal called agape when each household gathers for a meal, sharing about spiritual things and taking bread and wine (blackcurrant juice usually).

On Sunday we meet at the Coventry Jesus Centre for worship, teaching, body ministry etc. The band is excellent, the venue really good after years of hiring halls, and there are usually new faces – people come from all walks of life. We all disperse to the local community houses for lunch, taking visitors with us, before coming back to the CJC for the evening gospel event. Then it’s supper in big houses and homes. As one brother said recently ‘Wow! We do everything together!’

For the last few months the Sunday night meeting has been changed to cafe style and called Solid Rock Cafe. We set out tables and chairs, serve snacks and drinks free from the cafe, do bits of talk, send out evangelists, offer prayer in a side room, finish with worship. People need to talk and it’s a lot more user friendly for unchurched folk, especially Bridge drop-in friends; and we always get some of them along.

And on Fridays some of us usually go to Live at the Well, the live music cafe we run on Friday nights at the Jesus Centre (Upper Well cafe). It’s a fringe event that gets various new people and friends along.

A barbecue at Promise

Practical stuff: The domestic team is aiming to upgrade the hallway and other areas that have got a bit dowdy; a flat roof at the side of the house needs gravel clearing off it; the new baby is a few months old and enjoyed by all; the garden looks good after a lot of work by various of us over recent months; we aim to make the side wall higher and the gate more secure because a man was caught recently trying to break in having climbed over. And the cat needs flea treatment again. All part of life in community.

Q&A

Some commonly asked questions about life in community:

Q – Don’t you argue and fall out with each other?

A – Sometimes yes, but we are committed to working it out and so reconciliation happens too. Tensions are the exception but we aren’t generally afraid of them. As Christians we all want to love and forgive, so there is a culture of love and humility. There does have to be reality and openness, and sometimes correction is needed. You can’t build community without this.

Q – What if you want to buy something? What do you do for money?

A – What we call style 3 membership involves full participation in a common purse. That means that each community house has one bank account and all income of full members goes into it. Bills are paid from the account and members have floats for their normal needs such as public transport, snacks and the miscellaneous things you need cash for. Each week members give receipts with petty cash vouchers to the CP officer who replenishes their float. Larger amounts needed for special things like gifts, longer journeys, dental treatment etc, are taken out beforehand and accounted for.

The main thing is that everyone who is committed to common purse living does it because they want to live simply and accountably while getting free from the hassle of financial pressures such as paying the bills and shopping.

That reminds me – we put in a food order every week to the Food Distribution Centre in Northants and pick the goods up. It saves loads of time shopping as well as fending off the endless enticements of the shops.

Q – How do you make decisions together?

A – We have leadership teams in community which comprise male elders and junior leaders (scriptural pattern) and women are consulted as well in the course of life about relevant issues. (Eleven Promise leaders met tonight to check the state of our whole flock and whether we are doing our job properly – we have to ‘give account to God’ in the end). Decisions of policy are usually shared around to get various viewpoints. Our House Family Breakfast is a valuable sounding board and forum to work over issues – such as ‘should we get a second cat?’ or ‘Where shall we go for an outing?’ or ‘How can we improve security?’.

Q – Who does the cooking and cleaning?

A – In our house three women are employed as a domestic team. One co-ordinates the tasks, one mainly does laundry; turns are taken at cooking and cleaning etc. One had a baby recently and is getting back to capacity, another is in her 50’s and works part time; the third expects to move to Newcastle with her husband in due course, so things are in slow flux, which is normal, and it means that faith is needed for the future. Everyone else does a bit of cleaning and several take a turn at cooking.

A quiet place in Wales

Q – What if you want a holiday?

A – Our basic outlook is that if you are happy where you are then you don’t want a holiday to ‘get away from it all’. And also that community is about lives laid down for one another in the brotherhood and for humanity generally through the gospel. So in a sense there is no leave in this service. I have had years when I never went away except on an evangelism campaign somewhere, and I didn’t mind.

But – we do relax together quite often, we have occasional outings, most people visit relatives, i.e. those who have any to visit! People will also head for the country somewhere with a friend or three, or sometimes alone, to get a spell of sunshine and fresh air. There is a prayer room in the house kept available for private prayer, and the garden is enjoyed by all.

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Responses

  1. it home sound like a place in heaven can i come lol


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