Embrace the crazy

What would it take to get you out of Chicago? I asked for at least the tenth time in the last two months. It was a sunny Saturday afternoon this past October. My wife sat on the couch, and I sat in our cheap garage sale armchair, and our friend Melinda sat in my grandmother’s giant chair that could have fit three of her, her tattered notebook open on her lap. I had been joking with her most of the summer about moving to Ohio to help us start a church or intentional community but hadn’t held out hope for it to actually become a reality. An hour later we had an answer to my question and a tentative plan to make it happen.

We left our church last summer. We haven’t replaced it yet. We’ve visited some good ones, and we still hope to find one we can attend on a regular basis for worship and to connect to this ancient tradition we can’t seem to shake even when it makes no sense. But we haven’t yet found a community of Jesus followers with whom we feel we can fully live the Christian life in the freedom, honesty, doubt and beauty in which we believe it can and should be lived. For the last four months we’ve been working on a plan to start just such a community.

In October, Melinda will be leaving Chicago and moving into our home here in little old Greenville, Ohio. For a while we will just work on doing life together and adjusting to the new living arrangement before moving forward with anything more involved. For all our book and blog reading, all our planning and list-making, all our scheduled interviews with church leaders and authors from around the country, all our praying, our idea still doesn’t have a definite long-term shape, and that’s not an accident. We want to be flexible and allow for this to develop organically.

If you're wondering why I'm making that face, it's because I hadn't slept in a long time and only marginally knew where I was. I have no idea why Yosi was holding her nose. And yes, that is our 44th president dangling from our friend's ears.

Our basic idea is to bring in a few more core members and start an intentional community. We would have meals together and meet weekly for discussion and prayer. Eventually (and again, we are are making no deadlines or inflexible plans), we would like to create a community that would be a safe place for religious outcasts to come and know acceptance and grace and love and freedom, a spiritual triage center for the ecclesiastically disillusioned, the doubters, the questioning, the cynical, the fearful, the sarcastically-defensive-but-can’t-stop-believing, the gay, the straight, the humbly fervent, the sincerely agnostic, the apologetically or unapologetically unbelieving. But for now, it’s just my wife, my daughter, my best friend and I turning off the smooth path we’ve been walking and taking a few simple steps to walk a new one in the name of truth and love and beauty and grace.

In an email a couple months ago Melinda was discussing this project and asked me to regularly remind her we are embracing the crazy. That we aren’t apologizing for doing something unusual, and we aren’t living in fear. We are looking at a crazy means of living the way of Jesus and choosing to embrace it rather than make it safe and normal. You’re weird Lyndie’s sister said when we told her the plan. Yes, yes we are. And we plan to stay that way. And as Embrace is my word for 2012, Embracing the Crazy has become an unofficial mantra as we look ahead.

Over the coming months you will hear plenty about our plans and preparations for October and after. Melinda will be here on the blog a whole bunch to discuss this with me, and I’m pretty sure I can convince Lyndie to join in and share her wisdom and perspective also. I’m about as excited for this plan as I’ve ever been about anything, and I want to share that with you.

As I plan for how to arrange the coming posts and what to be sure to discuss, I would love to hear your specific questions and thoughts on all this. I’d also love to hear your recommendations on favorite books, blogs and sites on intentional community or anything related. And of course, we’d love your prayers. Thanks for reading.

This entry was posted in Church, Embrace, Faith, Friendship. Bookmark the permalink.

28 Responses to Embrace the crazy

  1. shan k says:

    “the sarcastically-defensive-but-can’t-stop-believing”. *raises hand*

    Ok — for the tragically unhip *cough* me *cough* what IS ‘intentional community’? 2 things come to mind: Riverviews Art Space (google it. Good stuff). And …Waco. So. Please to has describe basic terms?

    Also, what’s the over/under on when the first time someone will say ‘harem’ as a serious accusation? I’d like to lay some money.

    • Alise says:

      Oh, I assume that guns are involved. What harem is complete without guns?

    • I’ll address this in an upcoming post. Thanks for asking. And this won’t be the first time we’ve been asked about having more than one adult woman sleeping in this house, so ‘harem’ jokes will bounce right off of us. Just like the tear gas cannisters when the feds get involved.

  2. Christie says:

    Exciting! My husband and I have our own dreams of soon living in a more intentional community. I’m looking forward to following your journey.

  3. Alise says:

    I love this. So much.

    I love that you’re choosing friendship over fear. I love that you’re being intentional about community. I love that you’re seeking a unique way to speak to those who have been hurt by the Church.

    I cannot wait to follow this journey with you. And I SERIOUSLY cannot wait to meet the three of you in April! Squee!

    • “Choosing friendship over fear” – exactly. Thank you. And I can’t wait till April either!

    • lyndie says:

      I also really enjoy that phrase “choosing friendship over fear”. i embrace that summary.
      i think alot of the response we expect to get locally is more borne out of fear of the unknown than anything else. here’s to true friendship.
      Looking forward to meeting you too! :)

  4. Cathy LaGrow says:

    Well Ohio is nowhere near the PacNW. I feel cheated. Nevertheless, I am very happy for you and I still love you just the same, even though you will be no closer to me than before.


  5. Laurie J says:

    Wow! What a leap! I’m so excited to see how God will lead you guys! Have you read Mark Scandrette’s Practicing the Way of Jesus? Scandrette lives in San Francisco in intentional community. You can Google him or Youtube him for more info on the book and practices. I met him at a local seminar in Sacramento, and he is very down-to-earth, earnest and inspiring. :)

    • melinda says:

      Hey Laurie
      I’m familiar with Mark’s work, mostly through articles he’s written; haven’t quite gotten around to the book, but do remember adding it to a “for the future” list. Have you read it/does anything in it particularly stand out to you?

      And oh… oh, we’re very excited for what God’s going to do with it, too. :)

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  7. melinda says:

    Embracing the Crazy… and the very first Coming Out post… mmmm *deep sigh of happiness*

    I’m officially adding Scandrette’s ReImagine site to our list of websites.

    Also… your blog is very home-like and wonderful. I look forward to curling up in the corner and hanging out in posts here. AND with coming up with bribes for Lyndie to write around here too.

  8. .~mama~ says:

    WOW! Hope you understand that this will take some time for me to process…
    First question that came to mind while reading: How do you maintain the family…of mom,dad, daughter? Do you think this will in any way be confusing for Yosi in establishing her place? I’m not sure how to put this into the proper words …hope it makes sense to you what I’m asking…

    • lyndie says:

      We’ve given this a fair bit of thought. though we haven’t decided for certain, and it may evolve out of what we become comfortable with, we will encourage Yosie to understand Melinda as an aunt. Yosie understands that Melinda is our friend, not actually family. She’s shown herself to be surprisingly perceptive and intuitive about these things. We will maintain our roles as final decision makers about rules and discipline for her, unless she is left (say, for an evening out) in Melinda’s care, much the same way it works with existing family members.

  9. mattbirt says:

    I’m really excited to see where you guys take this. People organizing themselves instead of plugging into existing institutions is always interesting to me.

  10. HopefulLeigh says:

    So, so cool! I look forward to hearing about how things develop and come together.

  11. This is really exciting! We’ve done a few intentional community gatherings over the years and even though that season is over for us at the moment, we really LOVED them. Finding that balance of fellowship and personal boundaries was probably the most difficult part, but it was much easier when everyone was on the same page, and we communicated about it. I really miss the communal meals, cooking together became the central part of our gatherings, and we made some pretty amazing feasts. ;-) If you ever need to pick our brains about what worked and what didn’t feel free to email either Brad or I, we are in no way experts but we have been down that path a few times.

  12. kathyescobar says:

    i love crazy! the crazier the better.

    i am really excited for you guys & the beauty & fun & wild-times ahead as you embark on walking in this new direction together. here in colorado cheering you on any way we can. peace, kathy

  13. Tony Matamoros says:

    I think this is a great concept. We had a wonderful church community in Colorado. Miss that the most… We did meals weekly & it was wonderful. Breaking bread as Jesus did

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  15. You don’t know me, but I think this is great and if life were less logistically-complex, I’d say, “See you as soon as you’re ready!” (even if it was a few years from now). I had a friend in college who lived in a co-op and the community aspect of it made my heart ache with longing. You guys rock for taking this risk, and I will be following along.

  16. Grace VB says:

    I absolutely love that you guys are doing this. Although I still attend a traditional church, my husband and I firmly believe that community is where our faith grows and is put into practice. We lived communally our first few years of marriage(now that was interesting, especially when we had four kids in the house!) and are now focussed on living in community. Since we live in a townhouse complex, this has worked well. I look forward to following your journey and will be keeping you all in my prayers. :)

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  19. Beth says:

    as an introvert who protects my space, I can’t even imagine. I will be reading, though…

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