The intentional household conference was a great time. I was surprised at how many people showed up without a lot of recruiting and without a good idea of what they were getting into. I was also forewarned, so to speak, by the several households who didn’t want to get involved simply because they smelled commitment on the horizon and their “rule” is marginal-commitment – to Jesus or to one another.The ideas behind the conference, in my mind, were rather broad. I want to see households have a healthy life and I would like to see more of them. I would like them to be conscious of the fact that, healthy or not, they are very influential. I would like them to bear responsibility for what their “rule” perpetrates, whether they have a conscious one or not.
Most of the people present were working seriously and sincerely on who they are and what they would like to be and contribute to the church. They serve us well.
But some that were there and not there serve us less well. It seems to me that the households that have the worst impact on us are those who have some kind of concept that allows them to be ambivalent – kind of connected to the church, kind of connected to Jesus, kind of connected to each other. I think “on paper” people are being inclusive and gracious (which is good, and realistic most of the time) but what can happen, in fact, is that their lack of definition leaves their household open to domination by a person, or personal whims, or worse, and makes them confusing and atomizing to the people the household influences (and households influence people whether they think their life together is anyone else’s business or not).
Another small thing I have found interesting for the last 30 years also presented itself during the morning. When people who were raised evangelical get communal, they often retain their semi-gnostic theology and live by holding to a principle they don’t necessarily work out, even when they live in an intentional community that is supposedly all about working things out. The illusions can be quite harmful – you’re all about love and sharing, but that’s mostly in theory, and no one can tell you otherwise because you’re mostly about personal principle, not relating.
We talked a bit about households making some kind of covenant with the church, like individuals do. It just seems right not to be so individualistic. It also seems right to acknowledge the value and place of intentional households among us. I ended up undecided about this. It had the danger of making some people feel out and some in, in a bad way. We’ll have to consider this some more before we fall into something that is less than we have in mind.
A wonderful stimulating morning — it went too fast, I wanted a couple of more hours before everyone got away. We’ll probably need to get together again, soon. I went away very grateful for the love and commitment represented in the room. What great people and communities God builds!