A year ago I began meeting with a young man and a serious follower of Jesus. With the encouragement of some older mentors, he and some friends have established a house here in Grand Rapids, for single men. They’ve also established some “rules of life” for their house to encourage community, accountability and godliness.
What follows was written by these young men, edited for brevity. When I heard what these guys were doing, I thought immediately about it as another possible “cure” for Consensual Hypocrisy, on which I’ve been blogging.
Making a few good men. We have the goal of discipling young people for Jesus. The difference is that the house is geared toward the progression of faith in everyday life. The men not only hear teaching but actively participate in the teachings of Christ. Our belief is that the principles of reconciliation, accountability, service, unity, faith and love as spoken of by Jesus are principles for life. They are the basis for all healthy relationships.
There are two major outcomes we seek. One is that the men grow in their relationship with Christ. The second, through the relational community they take the principles/tools learned and apply them, continuing to seek relationships as those built in the house throughout the rest of their life. As iron sharpens iron the men help each other to be shaped into the image of Christ. The outcome of this affects business, friendships, marriage, fatherhood and the great hope “society”.
What is our house for? This ministry is for young men between the ages of 18 to 30. There is no one type of person we desire for the home. What we do ask is that those who come are open to faith and are willing to participate in the activities of the house.
We are not “professionally trained counselors”. While young men may encounter some healing in their life, those with severe addictions or mental illnesses may be better suited to a place where they can find professional help.
Our Strategy The house is built around a relationally intentional community. This is the base structure, built from our understanding of the teachings of Jesus. The guys coming into the house commit to ten principles. These are the expectations placed on each guy as they come into the house.
The Commitment of Love: Your commitment to each individual in your group must be of the Spirit that says; “Nothing you do or say will make me stop loving you.”
The Commitment of Availability: Two commitments are sought after here:
“I will be available, when humanly possible, each time our group meets.”
“I will make myself available to any member of our group whenever they are in need.”
The Commitment of Prayer: “I will pray for each member of our group consistently.”
The Commitment of Confidentiality: “Understanding that the other points in this covenant are only possible in the security of a ‘trust relationship’, I will, therefore, make the commitment to the group to share NOTHING outside of our group that has been shared inside our group or shared in private ministry with another member of our group.”
The Commitment of Openness: “Understanding that I cannot know you and that you cannot know me unless we tell each other who we are. I will make the commitment to tell you who I am, both in my strengths and in my weaknesses.” (They encourage telling stories of growing up, stories about their families and of people who’ve both encouraged them and discouraged them.)
The Commitment of Sensitivity: “I will ask God to make me sensitive to the needs of each person in our group and I will consciously make the commitment to LISTEN to each person each time they speak, whether in words, actions, or attitudes.”
The Commitment of Honesty: “Understanding that ‘speaking the truth in love’ is both positive and constructive unto bodily growth, I will allow God to use me in our group’s growth process by telling you when I agree and when I disagree.” (When they have an issue with one another, they’ve committed themselves to get that out in the open, so it can be dealt with.)
The Commitment of Accountability: “It is my conviction that God has placed me in our group ‘for building up the Body of Christ’, and that from time to time within our group it will be necessary for me to seek the mind of the Lord through the counsel and advice of our group. I will accept the responsibility for their counsel and advice and report to them what I have done with their collective wisdom.” (They weekly share their temptations and struggles, so they are accountable to the community to change.)
The Commitment of Reconciliation: “Understanding that on not all occasions, will we agree with each other. In fact there may be occasions that our actions hit a nerve to someone else in the house. The commitment here is to one communicate the frustration and the willingness to work through the issue until it is resolved.”
The Commitment to Serve: “Where possible whether it be in the house or to community groups we live with the intention to serve those around us.” (They do community projects together.)
Intentional Relationships What we desire in this house, a community of people who are walking in intentional relationships. These relationships have been a huge part of the success of similar houses around the world.
But, we’re not running a rooming house. To facilitate a culture of community, the guys will room together i.e. two to a room, at least one meal weekly will be shared, and attendance at the weekly “house meeting” is mandatory. In addition, we’ll have a weekly Bible study and occasional community service projects where the guys will be sent out in two’s or we’ll serve as a group.
However, we realize that not every guy that enters into the house will be at the same stage in life. Some will be attending college, some will be working, and others may be here for a period of time with no agenda other than to live in community or heal. In light of this, the amount that a person can give to the house is in direct proportion to the demands of the activities of which they are already involved.”
I can’t tell you how blessed I felt to know there are young men and women all over the world, living in intentional community. These men aren’t super Christians, but they desire to be. I love their passion for authentic community!
Question: Do you know of other communities like this and would you share with us how we can get information on them?
Following Jesus in Real Life