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Community Is Not the Goal

What the church can learn from a "burned-out hippie" commune.

According to Jon Trott, Jesus People USA (JPUSA) began as a handful of "burned out hippies" who traveled the country in a school bus until they ended up in Chicago in the mid 1970s. Now it is an intentional community of nearly 500 inhabitants that shares a common purse and serves its neighbors in the city's Uptown neighborhood through its seniors center, homeless shelter, and discipleship training school. Brandon O'Brien asked Trott, a member of JPUSA since 1977, what the average local church can learn from JPUSA's radical commitment to community.

How does JPUSA differ from the newer intentional communities today?

The younger communities are way more cerebral about community. They study Benedict, for example, and build community self-consciously around his principles. We were just trying to study the Bible, and we realized that we needed each other to survive as Christians. I don't say this frivolously, but when I think of us, I think of the verses regarding the things that are not confounding ...

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