Living in Community (Communes)

All this talk about renting or mortgaging got me thinking about other ways to ‘live.’ So I thought I would start another category at the side of this blog and keep at this for a bit longer trying to understand and work through the different ways people live under roofs. Another way that some people live is in community houses or communes. This is a peculiar type of living because it’s very rare in our culture and in many ways it goes against everything culture demands for success and independence. There is a lot about this way of living that attracts me and a number of reasons that scares me. Here is a post I wrote over a year ago about my dream of living in community and I still feel very passionate about it.

Positive Reasons For Living in Communes

– The idea of sharing resources with more than just your family helps us remember that it’s not ours to begin with. Some of us even have a hard time sharing with those in our family. It’s important for us to be constantly giving of ourselves and our stuff, and the more people that it can go to the better. Why buy two cars for two different families when you could have one between both of them? Why have two kitchens when you only need one? Why have two homes when you only need one? Learning to live off less so we can give away more should be a key discipline for Christians and this is a great way to head in that direction.

– My favourite living arrangements was at my apartment 109 in Toronto with Darryl, Nathan, Jon and Trevor. I’ve never had so much fun over and over again. Living with people is fun. This might be only for extroverts like myself, but I thrive off of having people around me all the time. Living with others is fun.

– When you share major things like homes and cars, you end up not spending nearly as much money as you would if you were providing all these things by yourself for your family. You would in a lot of ways be able to cut your expenditures in half. This means there is more left over to give away and do good with at the end of the month.

– When you live with your community as opposed to living across the city from them you are forced to be in community all day long and not just when you feel like it or are in a good mood. People see you in your worst and in your best. In a lot of ways you actually learn how to live with and around people unlike you would ever do unless you lived together.

– You actually have a community all around you all day that you can invite people into. Imagine a community of people living together who tried together to live like Jesus and love everyone around them. Imagine the community house being a place where anyone is welcome and they would be accepted by all.

Negative Reasons or Questions for Living in Communes

– People are strangely attached to their hard earned money. When you live in community too many things can go wrong. There are a lot of risks. People could bail half way through. Some could pay their bills late and wreck things for other people. You name it and it could go wrong when you put people and money together.

– People are attached equally to their things. It would be difficult for some to share their things with other people. We like things the way we like them and leave them. If whatever was mine was also the people that I lived with I probably would have some issues (or at least they would grow in time.) What if someone breaks something, who is responsible for get it repaired?

– Living in community means a lot less private time and time to yourself (reading, praying or in front of the TV or computer). Some people love their time alone and their homes are a sanctuary; a place to retreat from everything that happens around them all day. Living in community would change that a lot. The home would be a different sort of place; no longer a place of to get away but a place to be with.

– Everyone would have a different personality that they would be adding to the mix. I can annoy the heck out of some people and others would love me around every minute. How do you run a community house then? Do you just jump into it blindly and learn to love anyone put in your path or do you head hunt and only move in with people that you fit perfectly with. So they would fit emotionally, missionally and physically with you and the space. What if there are fights that take a while to get resolved?

– Kids bring an entire new dynamic to the picture. What are the limits of disciplining kids that aren’t your own? Or is there any sense of authority at all besides their parents? What really does it mean to properly and godly raise children together in a community without losing the role of the parents? When do kids start participating in financial matters? What if they are twenty-five and still living with the community and not doing anything? Or should they be a little responsible even as soon as them getting their first job? What about privacy with nursing mothers or toddlers or children’s nap times? What about safety? Can you really invite people off the street to sleep in the spare bedroom if there is a four year old next to them?

I’m sure there is lots more positives and negatives. Any to add?

3 Comments

  • You mean your favorite living arrangement wasn’t living with me and drug dealers?

  • Good post!!!

  • Any others? Well, there is adultery. As more or less a newlywed that issue may not even cross your mind, but whenever you have non-family adults of the opposite sex living in the same house, there’s always the nasty temptation for fooling around. The temptation is really not something, even for Christians, to shrug off.

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