I am writing this partly because I love to share about Shane Claiborne and the community he and friends started called The Simple Way. I also have booked a stay at the Hospitality House which is a hostel like situation where people who want to visit The Simple Way can stay. I have been asked by one of the community members how I heard about the Simple Way and why I want to come. So here is the answer to that question.
I first read the book “The Irresistible Revolution” by Shane Claiborne about eight years ago when I was in a very discouraged place emotionally and spiritually. Four years before I had surrendered my life to Jesus because I met people who really seemed to walk their talk, and they encouraged me to read books like “More Than a Carpenter” and “A Case for Christ” by Lee Strobel which helped me intellectually grasp the validity of the Christian faith.
But when conflicts broke out in our fellowship and were not dealt with in what I thought was a Christ-like way, I became disillusioned with Christians once again. (Being disappointed in Christians was why I left the faith at age 16 and did not return until I was about 47). I was searching for some reassurance. I found “The Irresistible Revolution” and I felt inspired and reassured that following Jesus like Shane followed Jesus was what I wanted to do.
What really inspired me about Shane was that he was willing to break out of the mold of going to Bible college and learning all the theology about Christianity–and take the risk of living out his faith by eventually, with friends, starting a community in the worst neighborhood in Philadelphia. He and his friends wanted to be the hands and feet of Jesus in their own neighborhood reaching out to the kinds of people Jesus wants us to connect with–poor, hurting, and neglected.
I learned extensively about what Shane and friends were up to by reading just about every word on The Simple Way website, plus watching and listening to a three part dvd/cd series which covered the three topics near and dear to my heart: Peace, Creation Care, and helping the poor. What I experienced made my heart sing! These mostly young people were doing such creative, fun, extravagant, joyful things in their neighborhood and in the world.
I was very happy that intentional community was the cornerstone of what Shane was about because I believe that if we don’t live together with other Christians, it is harder to be a real witness to people in our neighborhood, and hard to have time and energy to serve. I live with my former husband and my daughter, and my other former husband and my son live fifteen minutes away. We consider ourselves community and we see the power of working together and sharing resources so that we can be more service oriented as well as disciple each other. I yearn for more people to join us-and that is why we are establishing ourselves as a community that you read about in this blog.
A few months ago my 24 year old son, Chris, asked me if I had Shane’s book because he had read that Shane was one of the top most influential and inspiring Christians according to a poll taken by Relevant Magazine. Chris was doing his research and learning about these people, and I was delighted about that. I found the book and Chris really enjoyed reading it as well as listening to the CD’s I had bought before. He also bought an extra copy and gave it to his good friend who does not think much of Christianity because of so much hypocrisy that he has experienced.
Here is just a little taste of the wonderful things they are doing. I can’t wait to visit!
Life within the Simple Way is always changing. Sometimes things we start like our after-school theater program spin-off into entirely new organizations like Yes! And…, other times, changing seasons simply bring changing times, as we started with one house, expanded to a few, went back to one, and now we have launched a new Village House Internship Program. A lot of what goes on in our neighborhood is a local expression of The Simple Way, while some of our larger, national and global projects, are about connecting with and fostering other outposts of grace and discipleship. Read more about Our Expressions
I am so happy to be communicating with someone from the Simple Way. I told a friend that I would really like to meet Shane Claiborne and he said, “You will.” I had my doubts because I see Shane as a very busy, internationally known person. But if he is in town, I bet that I will meet him and I hope I can interview him as well. But definitely meeting all his friends will be just as good!
Philadelphia and The Simple Way–here I come~on July 22-29.