Living Loved Communities

What would Wayne and Brad think?
June 30, 2010, 12:18 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized

Wayne Jacobson and Brad Cummings host the podcast “The God Journey”. They have conversations which delight and inspire me about the difference between living a religious life and living loved by God.  This weekly podcast was my lifeline after I read the book  THE SHACK.  Their lively, often humorous and always heartfelt discussions helped me to ground the concepts that so turned my life upside down–in a good way–that I learned in THE SHACK. Wayne’s writings which are available free on line, including WHY I DON’T GO TO CHURCH ANY MORE and his talks on give me a sense of the Father’s love for me like no one else can.

But often when I hear Wayne and Brad speak, I hear more emphasis than I enjoy about how there can’t really be an ideal structure to help people who have left the IC (institutional church) to cooperate well. Now I have not yet addressed this issue with Wayne and Brad in order to know exactly what they think. But I believe I have listened to enough of their podcasts (about 40) to get the sense that they are not promoting any kind of structure.

Yet I have researched community and the structure vs. freedom idea for 35 years, and discovered that with no structure there results the tyranny of structurelessness. What happens is simply this: when there is no clear governing structure and no guidelines as to how to make decisions–then people can more subtly manipulate the situation. Someone is going to seize power at some point or another even if the people have the best of intentions.  I experienced this first hand in the tragedy of an idealistic open Christian fellowship where the group was constantly invaded by people who thought they were too open and didn’t have the correct doctrine. The result was that the group, in desperation,  elected elders who promised to keep the open structure but then betrayed the people by creating rigid structures similar to a church.  People were desperate for some order, and those who wanted to keep the open structure were basically rejected in various ways. It was a very sad situation for me who was one of those who was rejected from a community of people who I had grown to love.

My passion then is one that I discovered at the age of 26 when someone asked me why I kept a day timer calendar. “Why don’t you just let life flow?”  Thirty years ago, I was starting to juggle many interests and projects that I wanted to accomplish.  I found that without some kind of structure, my life was chaotic. My answer rather surprised me, but made sense. “Structure is like the banks of the river. The banks make it possible for the river to flow freely.”

I have heard Brad and Wayne say time and time again that the important thing is to have healthy relationships with people. With healthy relationships you have no need of structure. Yet in a marriage, we have vows. No, it is not the vows that keeps the relationship healthy–but going into the relationship there are agreements that are made to make it clear what each person expects from each other. And perhaps if there were more specific guidelines and structures for marriages that people could agree to, there would be more successful marriages.

The structure of this community would include:

1. Who is the core group of people who makes the final decisions.

2. What activities are permitted and not permitted.

3. How are conflicts to be resolved.

4. How will we accept new people

5. What are the boundaries for land–what is for personal use, and what is for public use.

6. How do we determine if someone is so toxic that we need to ask him or her to leave.

7. What activities can we have that can make it easy for  more connection, cooperation, and harmony.

I will be writing more about answers to these questions and more. I want to review the successful structures that have been conducive to people working together in a combination of interdependence and freedom. This topic of how can people most easily cooperate has been a life long search for answers.

Yes, it is going to make it much easier if people all are focusing living loved by God. But people enter that path in many stages of development.  All of us have challenges in getting along with people, and my vision is to minimize conflict and maximize the living life fully in love with each other and with God. Perhaps this “experiment” would really result in knowing that we are followers of Jesus because we love each other in ways that can be clearly be seen by the outsider.  Of course we are not only loving others who are the same–but by having an actual physical existence in the midst of others who are doing their best to live loved with a structure that makes it safe and easy to do so, could it be possible that people can make quantum leaps in their ability to live loved?

Wayne tells the deeply moving story of a woman who was raped when she was raped by a relative when she was 5 years old. She held on to a belief that God was not a God who loved her if he could allow such a travesty.  After sharing this story with Wayne, he suggested to her that she pray about this situation every day and whenever the thought arose, asking God to reveal himself as a God who cherished her and loved her.  After eight months he received an email with giant words, “I GOT IT!”  I loved that story, and it inspired me to continue these efforts to create community. What if people who have had such tragic pasts could live in a place where it did not have to take eight months to get it.

I also dream of this community being a retreat center where some members of the community come along side people who are needing healing. I have heard of one community where people who were insane came–and all the people did was to love them and make them feel welcome and wanted and purposeful. This healed the people. I believe this. I believe that people are insane because they are not getting their basic psychological,emotional and even physical needs met. What if a retreat environment could supply those needs, including and most powerfully being surrounded by people who just loved them?

And what if somewhat healthy people lived in a community of others where they were surrounded by others who were living loved? People could make quantum leaps in their ability to change themselves and therefore be in a position to help the world know about this way of living. That is a whole other blog topic.

I really hope that Wayne and Brad will think that this idea of having a community as a kind of experiment in using structure and intention to create an environment where people can both be healed and help others is a good idea. Their support would help this project move a long. I look forward to discussing with them more of these ideas. And if they don’t think this is a good idea–that is okay–we can agree to disagree. I love them just the same:)


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