Interview with Jamie Arpin-Ricci Author of “The Cost of Community” – Part 2
Here is another installment in my interview with Jamie on his book Cost of Community: Jesus, St. Francis and Life in the Kingdom. If you missed part one, you can check it out here.
JR: What would you say is the heart of the message of this book?
Jamie: The heart of the message of The Cost of Community is that Jesus actually expects us to live according to His teaching and example. While that might sound simple or obvious, it is sadly an uncommon commitment among Christians. It isn’t because we don’t believe in Jesus and want to obey Him, but rather because we mistake worship of Him as Savior with obeying Him as Lord.
Further, in our age of individualism, we often fail to hear and see Jesus’ teaching and example as a guide for us as communities, not simply personal piety. As a result, what is often transformational commands for a people become the well-intentioned but disjointed efforts of individuals. The gospel tells us that we are resurrected as the Body of Christ and it is in that collective identity that we best reflect Jesus. My hope with this book is giving one perspective on how we might understand that shared vocation.
JR: Why did you decide to write “The Cost of Community”?
Jamie: The inner city church that I pastor, Little Flowers Community, is an Mennonite church that is inspired and formed by the Franciscan tradition. Both Anabaptists and Franciscans have always held the Sermon on the Mount as a centrally important guide for Christian discipleship. So we decided to spend a few months exploring every verse and experimenting with living it together.
That was a profoundly formational experience for our community and it was something to share. A unique aspect of how we do “sermons” is that, while I do teach, it is also primarily my role as pastor to facilitate discussion around the text. We believe that the context of community is the primary place for discerning God’s will in Scripture. So the results of those discussions and the attempt to living in the kingdom together, was what produced the book – a tale of our journey through the Sermon on the Mount with St. Francis as our guide.