Interview with Jamie Arpin-Ricci, Author of “Cost of Community” – Part 1
I had the opportunity to read Jamie’s book – The Cost of Community: Jesus, St. Francis and Life in the Kingdom – early last year and it was in my top 5 reads of last year. It was such a significant read for me, that I wanted to do an interview with him. I will be posting the interview in six different parts, asking two questions each post, in order to gear it for typical blog readers. But first I wanted to share a short description of the book, as well as my endorsement. If you haven’t had a chance to read it, I would encourage you to get a group of friends to buy it and read it together. Also, feel free to ask your own questions to Jamie.
Short Description of Book
Blessed are the poor in spirit . . . So begins the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus’ great message to everyone with ears to hear. St. Francis of Assisi heard its message and challenged the church and empire of his day by ordering his life around it–giving up his power, wealth and privileges; claiming the poor and powerful alike as his brothers and sisters; and loving Islamic neighbors even as his church and state waged war on them. Centuries later, Jamie Arpin-Ricci and his friends and neighbors in the new monastic community of Little Flowers in urban Winnipeg likewise heard Jesus’ message and ordered their lives around it. This book is Jamie’s field report, offering surprising insights about what life together in the spirit of Jesus’ teachings offers us, and what it demands of us. The sermon still rings out today, offering perplexing encouragement and at times daunting challenges to us and our neighbors. Will you hear what Jesus has to say?
“If you want to go beyond theological speculation to living out the Sermon on the Mount, then you need to get this book, read it and live it. Jamie Arpin-Ricci weaves together the life of St. Francis, the Little Flowers Community and his own life to help us honestly wrestle through what it means to follow Jesus in our world today. His vulnerability is refreshing, and his life stories are inspiring. If you read this book carefully, and reflect on how Jamie and his faith community are following Jesus, you will soon realize that while the cost of discipleship is great, the cost of nondiscipleship is even greater.”
JR: For those who don’t know you, could you share some things about yourself with the readers of this blog?
Jamie: I am a writer, pastor, and missional church-planter living in the inner city of Winnipeg, Canada with my Aussie wife, Kim, and Ethiopian son, Micah. I am the pastor of Little Flowers Community, a Franciscan-Anabaptist faith community in Winnipeg’s downtown West End. I am also the director of Chiara House, a new intentional Christian community who share life “on the margins”. I am also co-director of YWAM Urban Ministries Winnipeg.
As a writer, I have contributed to several books including, The Cost of Community: Jesus, St. Francis & Life in the Kingdom (IVPress, Nov. 2011) & write at a blog by the same name. I am a third order Franciscan with The Company of Jesus, an ecumenical order under the Anglican rite.
JR: I love the title of this book, what is the story behind the title?
Jamie: I wish I could take credit for the title, but it was the idea of the IVPress folks. It captures the book perfectly- the foundational reality that God calls us into His kingdom together, as a community AND that such an invitation comes at a high price. It is costly because we replace our plans, rights and wills with Jesus’. The beauty is that He gives us so much more in return- life in the full!
It also is an homage to Bonhoeffer’s classic “The Cost of Discipleship”. Like that book, my book goes verse by verse through the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5-7). While our books are very different in many ways, it was pivotal in shaping my understanding of the text.