If you had asked me back in high school where I thought I would end up living after I graduated from university, I could never have come up with the accurate answer. In fact, I may have even been horrified to learn that I would end up living in a community home with 21 other people, over half of whom are teenagers.
Ironic, considering that there’s nothing I’m more grateful for in life right now than my living situation. And much of that is largely thanks to Act Five’s newly-minted residency program.
The residency program gives space for 5-7 young adults who are studying or working in the city to live year-round in the Act Five house and experience an intentional Christian community. Simply put, we do life here alongside the students and staff. We attend regular jobs or classes, practice hobbies, and share meals here in this home, as well as participating in spiritual rhythms and other regular patterns of life together.
Being part of an intentional Christian community, especially in such an uncertain, confusing, or even lonely stage of our lives, allows young adults in their twenties to become firmly rooted in their faith. It forms healthy habits and helps them learn how to balance important spiritual rhythms with the demands of adult life.
While any resident living in this home could and would experience God in beautiful ways simply by being present here, the opportunity to build relationships with peers as well as students gives space for mutual mentorship; to be “mutually encouraged by one another’s faith” (Romans 1:12). Madi, one of Act Five’s current residents, shares how the residents this year have been able to encourage each other through regular spiritual practices: “I think we spur one another on in our growth; I think we’re calling each other up to a higher commitment in our faith.”
Hannah, another current resident, also reflects on how living in community provides accountability: “My faith walk and my disciplines are always visible because I live with so many other people, much more visible than if I were alone… I’m constantly being inspired in different areas, because there are so many people who are always doing wonderful things in the house… Even when we’ve been low in our faith, whether explicitly or not, we’ve still felt exhorted or brought up by others into deeper things with Jesus.”
But it is also a blessing simply to have a readily-available group of friends at any given moment! As Madi puts it, “Living here means we always have opportunities for spontaneous moments… It’s so fun to just exist, to just be, and see what comes up.”
When asked about their favourite memories from this year so far, the residents shared many times of spontaneous fun: skating at Pier 8 or Bernie Morelli Centre, jam sessions in the prayer room, deep chats in the kitchen while doing dishes, dancing lessons in the living room, beautiful group hikes, rock climbing nights at Gravity, early-morning outings to watch sunrises and eclipses, last-minute decisions to bake cakes or make homemade donuts.
And sometimes these spontaneous moments even can morph into a meaningful and enriching community rhythm. This year’s residents have birthed Poetry Club, which meets on Sunday evenings to share or listen to one another’s poetry. Chris, another current resident, names Poetry Club as a highlight of this year: “Listening to each other share vulnerable, honest poems was so cool.” Madi, who hosts a podcast entitled The Courage To, even interviewed several residents about how Poetry Club has impacted them this year (listen here – episode 2 coming soon!).
Porch Reading Club, or PRC, is another club formed by this year’s residents, and is fairly self-explanatory. Chris also looks back fondly on PRC’s regular meetings in the fall: “All those quiet fall evenings we spent reading on the front porch while the sun slowly set—those were my favourite nights.”
Beginning our adult lives as members of an intentional Christian community is a beautiful way to help us discern where God’s path is leading us, especially alongside the Act Five students, who are also in a season of discernment. “Being a resident at Blake Street has been a wonderful opportunity to become part of a new community of people who want to have fun together and encourage each other to live faithfully,” Chris shares. “We’ve had so many opportunities for serious growth while simultaneously having so many chances to share in a fun, silly, and chaotic home.”
“Living in an intentional community gives you an opportunity to grow significantly in your faith,” Hannah reflects. “Your weaknesses will be exposed and you will learn so much from the people you live with, even indirectly.”
Madi also points out that life at Blake Street goes against the grain of an individualistic culture: “I would invite someone to live in this home if they have an itch to experience a different vision of what it means to be a follower of Jesus in our context… To live here, I think you have to have that itch, that desire for something different from the wider culture… This community helps you expand your imagination in terms of what following Jesus could look like.”
The residency program does not only provide young adults with a room to sleep in and meals to eat. It allows us to intentionally engage with other young adults and students as we all chase after Jesus together. It encourages a living situation that is spontaneously fun, spiritually challenging, and ridiculously difficult to explain to your extended family. It invites us to make a home here in this community.
And we have.
There are spaces available to stay at Blake Street for the summer and engage in an intentional, meaningful Christian community!