Behind every skyline there are neighborhoods, relationships, people, and stories …
By Dave and Neta Jackson
When Living Together in a World Falling Apart was first published in 1974, tensions in society—an unpopular war, racial divisions, fearful economics, the seeming futility of "success," and widespread alienation—were not addressed in most churches. Racism still thrived, worship meant three hymns and you're out, and relationships had deteriorated to weekly handshakes. But many believed—based on New Testament descriptions of the early church—that this couldn't be all God planned for his people. These restless souls eagerly read about Dave and Neta Jackson's personal search as they experimented with household living and took a road trip visiting the crop of emerging Christian communities around the country.
Written in a breezy, candid manner, Living Together became not only a bestseller and classic "handbook on Christian community," but provided perhaps the only sociological snapshot of the many Christian communities from that era.
Now, because many conditions in church and society are repeating themselves, interest in Christian community is reviving—whether through small groups, house churches, the emerging church movement, the new monasticism, or among Christians experimenting with communal living as a way to be more faithful, effective, and connected.
This updated edition contains the original text of Living Together as well as many of the Jacksons' personal reflections and evaluations after living in Christian community for over 25 years, thereby providing nearly 30 percent new material.
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"This has to be one of the ground-breaking books on the subject of intentional Christian community. Asking and answering almost every conceivable question on the subject ..." (Reviewed by Michael A Davisson, Feb. 27, 2002)
We have not lived communally since 1981 and have not been part of the Reba Place Church community since 1998, but we have remained close. And our time since then—in more or less traditional churches—has given us added perspective on our time “in community” as well as experience in practicing many of the goals of living as Christ’s Body in broader settings.
Those of you who are familiar with our writings over the years (see our Publication Record) will recognize many themes that were only seeds in this, our first book, themes such as openness and honesty, sharing, concern for the poor, breaking down ALL the walls that divide Christians—be they racial, cultural, economic, hierarchical, denominational, communal v. noncommunal, and radical v. traditional. We all need each other—every believer's gifts and every Christian group’s experience. These are the values that fueled our 13-year effort to write the Trailblazer series of 40 books about great Christian heroes from many Christian traditions and Neta’s Yada Yada series and so many other projects we have undertaken.
Both the original text of Living Together as well as our updated reflections are highly subjective and autobiographical. They are only one part of our life journey, but in sharing it with you, maybe you’ll also be challenged by this unfinished conversation about “life together” in the broader church, and what that means—or could mean—for each one of us today.
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© 2013, Dave & Neta Jackson