Rodney Clapp’s 1993 book Families at the Crossroads: Beyond Traditional and Modern Options is now out of print, but it remains an excellent little reflection on how Christian families might look if they could get beyond the narrow confines of “family” as popularly defined in American evangelical culture. One section is particularly relevant to our project of intentional Christian community:

“The Christian home is a mission base when Christians live in intentional community, such as Chicago’s Jesus People U.S.A. or Washington’s Sojourners Fellowship. But the Christian home is also a mission base when Christians who happen to live in the same neighborhood enjoy meals together, share a lawn mower and tree-trimming tools, or ‘exchange’ kids for an occasional evening meal.

The Christian home is a mission base when we refuse to ‘shop’ for churches after one church has bored or inconvenienced us. This tendency betrays the blatant consumerization of our faith. When a family struggles to stay with a church through bad times, it demonstrates another way of life than that so relentlessly promoted by the economic exchange model.

The Christian home is a mission base when, as in once case I know about, three families covenant that no one family will take jobs and move to another city unless all three families, through prayer and mutual consideration, decide they will go as well. Likewise, the Christian home is a mission base when members of a church move into the same apartment complex, sponsor Bible studies and organize supervision of the playground.

The Christian home is a mission base when a family opens its home.

The point is simple. In a world that offers less and less nominal support of Christian practices, in a world increasingly fragmented, hostile, and lonely, in a world that insistently attempts to atomize our lives and privatize our faith, there is no end to ways the Christian home can serve as a mission base. The limit, quite literally, is our imagination.”

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