A large and growing literature on Christian community offers rich historical, theological, and sociological insights.  We’ve selected several print and electronic resources from this vast literature, and from cognate disciplines reporting on community, to provide a variety of lenses on community formation.

Helping Organizations

Consultancies and associations providing information and resources related to intentional community.

Community Directories and Overviews

Directories of Christian communities are often out-of-date as soon as they are released, but even when incomplete, they illustrate community diversity and may provide contacts.

  • Fellowship for Intentional Community – The most current directory of existing and forming communities, some of which are Christian.
  • Jesus Fellowship (international directory)
  • Janzen, David (1996). Fire, Salt, and Peace:  Intentional Christian Communities Alive in North America. Evanston, IL:  Shalom Mission Communities. (Dated but provides brief overviews of multiple Christian intentional communities.)
  • House2House – Some house churches operate as tight-knit communities.
  • Luke Ten Community  Resources for cultivating intentional community in house churches
  • Emerging Communities: Ancient Roots  Julian Collette’s insightful podcasts recorded on a bicycle tour of Christian communities.

Representative (not comprehensive) list of diverse forms of intentional Christian communities

In-Depth Descriptions

Most in-depth descriptions are of older communities although shorter works are emerging on younger efforts.  All offer insights into formation and/or dynamics over time and illustrate diverse examples of Christian community.

Historical Surveys

  • Saxby, Trevor J. (1987). Pilgrims of a Common Life: Christian Community of Goods through the Centuries. Scottdale, PA: Herald Press.
    • A survey of Christian community, ancient to modern, with an emphasis on shared finance and property.
  • Heath, Elaine A., & Kisker, Scott T. (2010). Longing for Spring:  A New Vision for Wesleyan Community. Eugene, OR: Cascade Books.
    • A very brief but helpful overview in the Wesleyan tradition.

l’Arche

A wise retrospective that has inspired and educated many from the founder of a community for the mentally handicapped and their helpers.

  • Vanier, Jean (1989/1979). Community and Growth. Mahwah, NJ: Paulist Press.

Catholic Worker

Several works – three of which are recommended here – describe the founding and work of the Catholic Worker movement over varying periods of time.  McKanan’s Touching the World compares the Catholic Worker to another community – Camphill.

  • Day, Dorothy (1997/1963). Loaves and Fishes: The Inspiring Story of the Catholic Worker Movement. Maryknoll, NY: Orbis Books.
  • McKanan, Dan (2007). Touching the world: Christian communities transforming society.  Collegeville, MN: Liturgical Press.
  • McKanan, Dan (2008). The Catholic worker after Dorothy: Practicing the works of mercy in a new generation. Collegeville, MN: Liturgical Press.

Church of the Saviour

The Church of the Saviour in Washington, DC is known for balancing social action and spiritual formation. Elizabeth O’Connor describes its ongoing story.

  •  O’Connor, Elizabeth (1975/1963). Call to Commitment. New York: Harper & Row.
    • The classic historical record of the Church of the Saviour until the mid-1970s.
  • O’Connor, Elizabeth (1991). Servant Leaders, Servant Structures. Washington: Potter’s House Bookservice.
    • A brief account of the Church of the Saviour until the early 1990s.

Koinonia

Clarence Jordan and others at Koinonia Farm addressed the racial divide in community beginning in 1942.

  •  Coble, Ann Louise (2001). Cotton Patch for the Kingdom: Clarence Jordan’s Demonstration Plot at Koinonia Farm. Harrisonburg, VA: Herald Press.
  • DVD: Briars in the Cottonpatch: The Story of Koinonia Farm: http://briarsdocumentary.com/

New Monasticism

Few in-depth narratives of individual communities are available but several helpful brief sources illumine rationales and lessons from recent approaches to Christian community.

  • Dekar, Paul (2008). Community of the Transfiguration: The Journey of a New Monastic Community. Eugene, OR: Cascade Books.
  • Heath, Elaine A., & Kisker, Scott T. (2010). Longing for Spring: A New Vision for Wesleyan Community. Eugene, OR: Cascade Books.
  • Rutba House (Eds). (2005). School(s) for Conversion: 12 Marks of a New Monasticism. Eugene, OR: Cascade Books.
  • Shenk, Joanna (Ed.) (2011). Widening the Circle: Experiments in Christian Discipleship. Harrisonburg, VA: Herald Press.
  • Talbot, John Michael (2011). The Universal Monk: The Way of the New Monastics. Collegeville, MN: Liturgical Press.
  • Wilson-Hartgrove, Jonathan (2008). New Monasticism: What It Has to Say to Today’s Church. Grand Rapids, MI: Brazos Press.

St. Benedict’s Farm

Established in 1952, this small, lay, Catholic monastic community in south Texas set about to simply follow the scriptures and the Rule of Benedict.

  • Your Friendly Neighborhood Monks (1982). Waelder, TX: St. Benedict’s Farm.

New Friars

Living incarnationally among the poor is the call followed by members of Servants Asia, Word Made Flesh and new friars.

  • Craig Greenfield (2008). The Urban Halo. London: Authentic Media.
  • Bessenecker, Scott A. (Ed.) (2010). Living Mission: The Vision and Voices of New Friars. Downer’s Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.
  • Huertz, Christopher. Unexpected Gifts: Discovering the Way of Community. (2013) Howard Books.

Utopias and Intentional Communities

Although important distinctions are made between utopian communities and Christian communities, the two overlap on occasion. Utopian studies literature is plentiful and offers insight into the contexts which have given birth to utopian societies and perspectives on intra-community dynamics.

  • Miller, Timothy (1998). The Quest for Utopia in Twentieth-Century America (Vol. 1: 1900-1960). Syracuse, NY: Syracuse University Press.
    • Brief descriptions of over 100 North American intentional communities are offered in his comprehensive historical work.
  • Pitzer, Donald E. (Ed.) (1997). America’s Communal Utopias. Chapel Hill, NC: University of North Carolina Press.
    • Historical descriptions of seventeen important American utopian societies, several of which were Christian or religious.
  • Gutek, Gerald, & Gutek, Patricia (1988). Visiting Utopian Communities: A Guide to the Shakers, Moravians, and Others. Columbia, SC: University of South Carolina Press.
    • A useful guide for locating and visiting historical utopian society sites in the United States.
  • Hayden, Dolores (1976). Seven American Utopias: The Architecture of Communitarian Socialism, 1790-1975. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.

General Works on Christian Community

Several helpful theological works argue for the central place of Koinonia and community in Christian discipleship.

  • Alexander, John (2012). Being Church: Reflections on How to Live as the People of God. Eugene, OR: Cascade.
  • Dawn, Marva J (1997/1992). Truly the Community: Romans 12 and How to be the Church. Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans.
  • Ekblad, Bob (2008). A New Christian Manifesto: Pledging Allegiance to the Kingdom of God. Louisville, KY: Westminster/John Knox Press.
  • Eller, Vernard (2003). The Outward Bound: Caravaning as the Style of the Church. Eugene, OR: Wipf and Stock.
  • Jacobsen, Eric O. (2012). The Space Between: A Christian Engagement with the Built Environment. Baker Academic.
  • Janzen, David (2012). The Intentional Christian Community Handbook: For Idealists, Hypocrites, and Wannabe Disciples of Jesus. Brewster, Massachusetts: Paraclete Press.
  • Lohfink, Gerhard (1984). Jesus and Community: The Social Dimension of Christian Faith. (John P. Galvin, Trans.). Philadelphia, PA: Fortress.
  • O’Connor, Elizabeth (1975/1968). Journey Inward, Journey Outward. New York: Harper & Row.
  • Pohl, Christine. (2011) Living Into Community. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans.
  • Snyder, Howard A (1978). The Problem of Wine Skins: Church Structure in a Technological Age. Downer’s Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.

Living Community:  Handbooks and Tools

Decision Making and Governance

  •  Buck, John & Villines, Sharon (2007). We the People: Consenting to a Deeper Democracy: A Guide to Sociocratic Principles and Methods. Washington, DC: Sociocracy.info.

Co-ops

  • Chendea, Jen, Costa, Jim, & Reed, Jack (2007). Co-op Villages:  The Next Evolution. Milton, FL: Co-op Village Foundation.
  • Durrett, Charles & Kathryn (2011). Creating Cohousing: Building Sustainable Communities. Gabriola Island, BC: New Society.
  • Durrett, Charles (2009). The Senior Cohousing Handbook: A Community Approach to Independent Living (2nd Ed.). Gabriola Island, BC: New Society.
  • Meltzer, Graham (2005). Sustainable Community: Learning from the cohousing model. Victoria, BC: Trafford.
  • Scotthanson, Chris & Scotthanson, Kelly (2005). The Cohousing Handbook: Building a Place for Community. Gabriola Island, BC: New Society.

Ecovillages

  • Christian, Diana Leafe (2003). Creating a Life Together: Practical Tools to Grow Ecovillages and Intentional Communities. Gabriola Island, BC: New Society.