What is Intentional Community?

Learn what the term "intentional community" means

 

Video transcript:

MELINDA
Hi Everyone! This is the first in a series of videos we’ll be doing about intentional community. And I guess a good thing to kick it off would be to talk about what the term intentional community means.

RICHARD
It’s actually a really broad term that can be applied to any number of living arrangements like ecovillages, co-housing situations, cooperatives, dormitories, communes…

MELINDA
Eh. Except “communes” is not such a great word. It conjures up all sorts of images of people with long hair and beards in Haight–Ashbury circa 1968.

RICHARD
At the Bruderhof, we prefer the term “settlement”. So anyway, an intentional community is a place where people purposefully order their lives in such a way that they’re able to support one another. The idea is that people need one another and we’re best able to be there for each other when we live in close proximity.

MELINDA
If you want to get an idea of the huge number and variety of intentional communities just in the US and Canada check out Foundation for Intentional Community. There are literally thousands of communities in North America alone! Or if you’re interested in strictly Christian intentional communities there’s a book by David Janzen called the Intentional Christian Community Handbook.

RICHARD
The Bruderhof has been living in intentional community for almost 100 years now.

MELINDA
Our 100 year anniversary is in June 2020!

RICHARD
But there are other amazing historical and contemporary examples of intentional communities. Melinda – you actually stayed at one for a while, right?

MELINDA
Yes – Adsideo Church in Portland, Oregon. They are an awesome group of people committed to living life together and following Christ. I was there for just over a month and even though the “look” was pretty different from the Bruderhof, the “feel” and the purpose was much the same.

RICHARD
But then there’s this rich history of community movements from the Beguines and Beghards in Northern Europe in the thirteenth to sixteenth century, to the radical Anabaptists and early Quakers, to the Moravian church and then right on up through the twentieth century. What’s funny – and I’ve heard this – is that most intentional communities start with little–to–no awareness that other people have done and are doing this. They think they came up with the idea and only find out later.

MELINDA
It just goes to show that the desire for tight social cohesion is part of our makeup, maybe even evolutionarily hard–wired. If you go far enough back in history, everyone lived in small tribes or settlements supporting each other – so this is really nothing new. On the flip side, there’s a reason most intentional communities don’t last.

RICHARD
But we’re going to talk about that in a different video.

MELINDA
Right. Among other things. If you have questions like “How do I start an intentional community?” or “How do I join an intentional community?” contact us and we’ll do our best to answer them.