Typically, this means several families who have a similar outlook in life sharing accommodation and goods (and maybe living in semi-isolation from outside influences), giving up their freedom to personal rights and focusing instead on responsibility to, and co-operation with, for the mutual benefit of all involved. Cults often require their members to live in communes whereby, among other things, exclusive and manipulative control can be maintained over the members and where there are few if any individual family times together.
As Christians, we are the salt of the earth and ideally we should be scattered throughout the wider community to affect a greater number of people, although there are times when living in close proximity maybe most beneficial (Mt 5:13). During His three-year earthly ministry, Jesus lived in a close teaching and mentoring relationship with the disciples and other followers who travelled together from place to place (Mk 1:35-39, 3:14, 15:41; Lk 8:1-3). This enabled them to observe and learn from the Master as He lived out the principles He was trying to instill in them.
‘Do your homework’ before you ‘buy into’ other forms of communal living, beyond the family
believers, by showing generosity and sharing, is a wise investment for eternity, although, as everybody has different expectations of what community is, boundaries must be respected (Gal 6:10; Phil 2:4; 1 Tim 6:18,19). The church should operate from the principle of giving and receiving in contrast to the world’s way of buying and selling. In any collective living arrangement, sexually purity including abstaining from the appearance of evil, must be maintained, together with space for individuals and independent decision making (Prov 25:17; 1 Thes 5:22).
Actual communal living has some advantages but spiritual community is vital to the Kingdom of God. Shared values, sometimes called the ‘Kingdom manifesto’, are the core issue for Christian communities. It requires a lot of grace and hard work for sinful, fallen human beings to live successfully together in close proximity a biblical and Christ-honouring community.