We are considering moving in with some of our best friends, in order to save money, yet have a large space and lots of parking to be able to be more hospitable and increase our ministry in our home. While getting godly counsel on this matter, a funny connection was made that made the world a little smaller for me! :) This counsel came from my pastor's wife, who in turn asked her friend (who's husband is a pastor and they live with another family), who was the daughter of one of my wonderful table leaders in Seminary Wives Fellowship. What a fun connection, and really great way the Lord has once again used this family in our lives. Justin told me this professor has read through the entire Bible more than 45 times and was an amazing wealth of knowledge in his survey classes. Praise God for godly families like this one who have blessed and enriched our lives.
Here is what she wrote:
"Concerning our thoughts in terms of giving counsel to your friends who are seeking to maybe live under the same roof…
The principle Dan and I kept coming back to was the great necessity for both parties to have a commitment to the Word of God and specifically in how to biblically deal with communication and conflict resolution. Something that we have found to be a great resource is Stuart Scott’s booklet called “Communication and Conflict Resolution”. This could be a good resource for them to talk through that gets down to the practical daily living in terms of interpersonal relationships. Humility is so important in the life of a believer and we have learned when you live under the same roof you’re not just going to see sin in one another but a big question is how are you going to deal with preferences (ie things that are not inherently right or wrong).
So that is the first question: How are they planning on dealing with preferences, not just sin issues?
Other practical topics that could be helpful to think through and/or discuss:
· Regular communication: Is there a plan to meet regularly to give opportunity for both parties to discuss how things are going (ways to improve, ways to encourage, etc)? Or what will be a good manner in which to regularly give opportunity for each family to give feedback? In our situation it varied. At one point both couples met, and at other times just the husbands met. We also found it to be important for the husbands to shepherd their wife through certain issues. It wasn’t always easy.
· Are both families on the same page in terms of goals of discipline for their children? Are they open to the input of the other family in this regard? What are the expectations?
· Being above reproach (you mentioned this). We were careful to avoid situations where one spouse would be at home at the same time as the opposite gender spouse (even if kids were there). People in the church seemed to look favorably on our situation in general and I’m not aware of any concern or negativity in this way. Frankly, people had never seen it done and probably had never considered that someone would even willingly choose this situation.
· Habits of cleanliness
· Expectations/limitations in hosting people at the house or for out-of-town guests that would come visit. We could do a lot of hospitality together since we were in the same church.
· Meals/Shopping responsibilities: are you going to have meals together daily? If so, which ones, who will cook & shop, etc? Make sure to communicate if someone will not be at a planned meal. A weekly schedule in our situation was found to be helpful.
· Finances: I’m not sure if both families are planning to split housing costs up the middle. This is probably easiest for the husband of each family to discuss/decide together.
There are probably more things that could be mentioned. Again, humility, humility, humility is so huge. There will be sin to deal with at times. This takes humility to confront rightly and to receive rightly. And it is a guarantee that people will do things differently than you in matters of preference. (For example, this is minor but I learned that right now I don’t prefer that my boys play with toy guns.) How to deal with this stuff, even the “minor” preferences requires great humility because I can tend to view that my preferences are right & best J
Some of the PROS to living with another like-minded family is that it sanctifies, you learn to consider others better than self, and it can be a helpful testimony to others for the sake of the gospel.
The biggest CON that we came to was that if you don’t deal rightly with things it can lead to bitterness (which you can imagine can lead to many other negative things).
May your friends be a testimony of God’s truth and grace in whatever they decide,"