My wife, Hailey and I were recently blessed with our first son, Cohen James Bickham. To say that our perspective of life and love have changed would be a profound understatement. And keeping with the theme of new life in this season of change, God is also giving birth to new ideas and revelations in my spirit on a daily basis through the Yellow House of Highland in Shreveport, LA.
I’d been searching for deeper purpose in Shreveport for months. And two days after Cohen’s birth, I received a phone call from Britney offering me a position as an intern director at the Yellow House. (If ever a selfie were in order, it would have been at that moment because I wish so badly that I could have captured the goofy smile on my face). I’d been a resident for a while at Yellow House, catching a glimpse of the transforming power of intentional community. I knew that the friendships, teachings, awkward moments and side-splitting laughter of those 8 months would equip me for God’s work somehow. And now I get to invest more fully into what I believe to be one of the best expressions of Heaven on Earth: New Monasticism.
It took me a while to learn how to pronounce (and spell) the name for this new/old movement that has been growing in the hearts of intentional communities around the world. And it’s taking me even longer to allow the teachings to sink into my soul and invade my everyday life. But as I learn more about the simple but challenging Marks of New Monasticism that unite these communities, I see more of Jesus in my life and the lives of those around me. Things like shared economics and hospitality become a reality when neighbors down the street offer to help out with 6 months of our rent and offer up their guest room when our AC goes out (5 times this Summer and counting). My wife and I have witnessed and experienced what happens when neighbors simply choose to follow the teachings of Jesus. And we’re convicted to give ourselves to seeing more of it in our city.
New Monasticism takes us back to the old monastic traditions and explores ways to live out the Gospel in the abandoned places of our world. Many in our generation have sensed a need for renewal in the Body of Christ, and I’m certain that I’ve stumbled upon an incredible sign of hope in what God is doing here. It’s my dream that all believers would have a similar experience. Heaven comes to Earth when God’s people love their neighbors unconditionally, welcome the stranger, and hammer their swords into plowshares.