“The Life Model is the best model I have seen for bringing Christ to the center of counseling and restoring the disintegrating community fabric within Christian churches.”
Dr. Dallas Willard
Speaker, Author, Professor of Philosophy, USC
Multigenerational communities require three or four generations of people living together in order to produce a healthy maturity. Attempts at transformation through community life that involve only one or two generations will always be too narrow in their scope and two extreme in their effects.
Communities become damaging when they serve an ideology whether political, religious or humanistic. In ideological communities the ideal soon begins to justify the treatment people receive and the bonds they are allowed to form. Therapeutic, religious, educational and corrective communities rarely have more than two generations and the members usually become peculiar in ways that cannot be called “thriving.”
Violence and abuse in communities are avoided when people are joyful to be together and they share each other’s pains and sorrows. If one must share the pain one causes with the one who got hurt, we quickly learn to live a better way.
Both natural and spiritual families need multigenerational involvement. We have a chance to thrive when many generations relate together in joy rather than through fear, control and threats. This kind of community is the mandate of Christianity and the character of the life we call “the family of God.” The present community fabric is disintegrating within churches and society. Whereas the church of 1900 could depend on society to provide the multigenerational community the church of 2000 can no longer afford to do so. In 1900 Sunday Schools divided by age groups so that people could get a break from multigenerational living and find some peer group time. It is now becoming rare for extended families to live in the same state or family units to even have one meal together in a week. It is time to rethink how we do church.
For a community to continue for generations the past must be kept fresh to protect and direct the future. The older serve and nurture the younger, not so much with hard work as with protection of the individual and group identity.
The joy that grandparents and grandchildren take in each other is foundational to the attitude that we just love being together. Bonded relationships serve many purposes but as soon as they are used to serve a purpose people will rightly resent it. Community is damaged when people demand to be loved “well enough” before they will love. Communities are damaged when love is conditioned on change or performance. As deep as the center of our brain’s attachment system, we find that relationships have value because we are each other’s not because we perform.
A multigenerational community needs both natural and spiritual family participation. Natural biological families are subject to chance and history when it comes to providing the many nonverbal skills needed to correctly form their identities and train their children’s control centers. Missing skills will result in inadequate emotional regulation and unstable relationships. Since these skills can only be learned in bonded relationships, any natural family that lacks skills depends on a spiritual family to provide what they are missing. Spiritual families supplement natural families.
While spiritual families help us become who we were meant to be, natural families are the source of new generations. When one member of a family forms a bond with God this often draws other family members into the spiritual community. When spiritual communities gather, the younger members often form natural families.
“Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth.” God (Genesis 1:28)
“By you all the families of the earth shall bless themselves.” God (Genesis 12:3)
Know therefore that the LORD your God is God, the faithful God who keeps covenant and steadfast love with those who love him and keep his commandments, to a thousand generations. (Deuteronomy 7:9)
The Life Model is designed to provide guidelines for the development of a strong multigenerational community capable of helping restore those who have not grown strong, joyful identities. It is time for you to thrive.
“The answer given in the Life Model is very reala combination of healthy spirituality, intellectual insight, a need for community and friendshipall put together to help us become transformed.”
Dr. Francis MacNutt
Founding Director, Christian Healing Ministries