I started out this trip with many big goals including making a documentary of my travels and sharing all that I have learned and experienced on my journey. But now that I have actually had a taste of community, my longing is to live in community. In my meeting with David Jantzen, author of the book Intentional Christian Communities Handbook, I received some great counsel from him about how to move forward. One thing he recommended was that I get a group of people together to come and experience communities together. People were already saying, “I want to come with you,” before I left.
So that is one of my goals:
Goal 1: To make connections so that it is easy to organize a visit from a group of people from our area, especially some members of Wellspring Community.
Sally, director of Reba Place Fellowship and my hostess (along with her husband Orwin) suggested that other members of my family/community come as a group and live in community for a while.
Goal 2: Scope out possibilities of communities where my whole family or some of us could stay for an extended visit, possibly just one community so that we can get the sense of what living in community is like as a group.
David Jantzen also counseled me to make sure that I was not attached to a certain place for community because I really needed to go where Jesus is calling me.
Goal 3: Seek God’s guidance on where he wants me to be. Spend time in prayer and reflection. Do the Immanuel Approach http://www.immanuelapproach.com/ with someone who can help facilitate me listening to Jesus in a clear way.
Something that Reba Place Fellowship and other communities do is to call upon others for counsel in a group setting called a discernment committee. This is a group of people who are willing to listen to someone who is making a major life decision around such topics as a leaving the community, changing jobs, or major relationship problems. I want to somehow experience the discernment process either on this trip, or when I return.
Goal 4: Find a discernment “committee” who can help me to be clear on how I should proceed when I return home in terms of work, focus on community, focus on larger community (Resurrection Church), living situation and more. Also, simply reflect and journal about these topics.
I was very blessed to have access to the Reba Place Fellowship handbook which describes things like how they accept new members, how they make decisions and how much their monthly allowance is. I copied most of the handbook for future reference.
Goal 5: Study Reba Place Fellowship handbook and start creating a structure to present to my own community/family so that we can start having conversations on what our community looks like.
I continue to be very inspired by the Immanuel Approach. http://www.immanuelapproach.com/ I had the privilege and pleasure of meeting with Karl Lehman, who developed this approach with the mentoring of Jim Wilder of www.lifemodel.org His wife, Charlotte, and Immanuel Approach teacher Jessie Handy was also at this meeting which was uplifting, relaxing, and informative. From what I have studied, experienced (just two sessions–one giving and one receiving) as well as watching the videos of Jessie’s classes, I am convinced that this is one of the best ways around for powerful healing of past trauma. So I want to learn more by studying the website and finding folks who are willing to facilitate a session with me so that when I return home I can have a more tangible experience of Immanuel Approach.
Goal 6: Study the materials on the Immanuel Approach website http://www.immanuelapproach.com/pdf/Appendix%20CFinal.pdf about how to get started. Share the training videos (Jessie Handy and friends) from Alive and Well http://vimeo.com/album/2297934 with people who I think might be interested. Find people who are willing to do Immanuel Approach with me especially in Plow Creek Fellowship and during my brief finishing up stay at Reba Place Fellowship.
Okay, this is working. I just emailed two people about doing an Immanuel Approach session with me.
I am finding that working side by side with people is really trust-building and relationship building. I really want to leave places with friends who I can both stay in touch with as well as who might tell people about our community as we become more able to receive new members. Word of mouth is such a great way to grow community.
Goal 7: Continue to seek out ways to serve in the communities I visit and be as useful as I can be to build trust and strengthen relationships even in the short time I am here.
I have taken a lot of pictures. As I take them, I imagine myself telling the story of my experiences. I want to go deeper and take pictures that reflect the values and goals for community I have so that when I give a slide show presentation I can both tell a story and inspire people to see the reality of potential for community.
Goal 8: Journal about things I am learning and seeing so that if I don’t have time to blog I can still develop a presentation that helps me to share the beauty of community and the possibilities for all who want to create intentional Christian community for encouragement and inspiration.
I am not taking as much time as I would like to have intentional bible study, journaling and prayer. Finally, I have time for that. But I have not been in the habit of doing that making the excuse that I have been far too busy. Now I can choose my schedule much more, and I want to prioritize deepening my relationship with Jesus.
Goal 9: Take more time to study scripture in a creative way, pray using such methods as Immanuel Approach and Imaginative Prayer (Greg Boyd) and journal. Make sure I schedule this time in each day. Take this habit home with me and have faith that I don’t have to be a human doing all the time–but rather be a human being.
I have been very blessed to be able to connect with leaders of the communities I have visited. Tonight I dine with Rich Foss, one of the leaders of Plow Creek Fellowship and who has a lot of experience with leadership which you can see at this website http://evergreenleaders.org/ I was happy to talk to Plow Creek farm manager, Matthew, while working side by side weeding water melons. Rebecca, who was one of the founding members and energy behind Thirdway Church in St. Paul, is staying at Plow Creek. I am having a wonderful time asking her questions and have more to ask.
I was very fortunate to drop in at Jesus People USA in Chicago for an afternoon and then dinner. Although I did not meet with any of the 9 or so elders who lead this huge community (comparatively speaking) I was able to sit with long time members who shared freely about their experiences, as well as the person who coordinates guests and tours.
I stayed with Sally Youngquist and her husband during my visit to Reba Place Fellowship. We had a wonderful connection and I got to ask many questions and learned so much from her. I also met with other leaders in the community such as David Jantzen.
I will get to interview — or maybe just have a conversation with–Shane Claiborne at The Simple Way www.thesimpleway.org . I think I will contact the leader of Koinonia, Bren Dubay. I will be visiting Koinonia www.koinoniapartners.org as the last leg of my journey. I met Bren very briefly at the Ekklesia Project. I pray that I will ask good questions and be very present with the future leaders I meet. That means I need to read up on the communities.
Wow! I have been truly blessed!
Goal 10: Continue to initiate conversations with leaders and long time members of the communities I visit in order to learn as well as find one person who would be willing to mentor me. Pray before I visit with them and come up with good questions. Review their writings and websites.
Well, I guess that is enough goals for now! The afternoon has flown by and I will soon help Matthew organize the market barn.