In Luke 12:33 (NIV) Jesus says:

Sell your possessions and give to the poor. Provide purses for yourselves that will not wear out, a treasure in heaven that will never fail, where no thief comes near and no moth destroys.

He doesn't say "all" possessions here, but that seems to be what he told the rich ruler in Luke 18:22 (NIV):

When Jesus heard this, he said to him, "You still lack one thing. Sell everything you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me."

In Acts 4:32-35 (NIV) it looks like that's what the Early Church did as well:

All the believers were one in heart and mind. No one claimed that any of their possessions was their own, but they shared everything they had. With great power the apostles continued to testify to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus. And God's grace was so powerfully at work in them all that there were no needy persons among them. For from time to time those who owned land or houses sold them, brought the money from the sales and put it at the apostles' feet, and it was distributed to anyone who had need.

Are there any denominations or other groups in the world where the congregation (not monks, nuns etc.) actually does this? If so, can you please give some details on how the practical aspects work (sharing homes etc.).

  • Are you specifically interested in denominations as your title suggests, or simply congregations as your question suggests?
    – Flimzy
    Commented Jul 10, 2014 at 15:38
  • 1
    @Flimzy congregations are also fine
    – RKG
    Commented Jul 11, 2014 at 6:57

5 Answers 5


I don't know if there are any denominational-scale organizations that practice this, but there are certainly churches and other Christian organizations that practice this.

The Bruderhof may be a good example of this. My family lived in a Bruderhof community for a few months when I was growing up, as my father was doing some work (writing a book) for them.

Later, a Mennonite church I used to attend had previously lived like this, in community, requiring all members to donate all of their earnings to the church, which in turn provided the bare essentials for living (home, groceries, etc), and gave the rest away.

They eventually gave up that practice for legal and tax reasons, and reverted to individual ownership, but with a spirit of giving.

In both cases, the church/community owned shared property, and was responsible for providing for the needs of the church members. In the case of the Bruderhof, the church also owned land for growing crops, a furniture factory, and perhaps other businesses, which were then used to sell goods to the general public, and provide for the needs of the community.

I think it won't be hard to find examples of Christian communes living in a spirit of "complete giving" in various parts of the world.

A google search for "Intentional Christian Community" finds various resources on this type of living, and may help you further in your search.

  • the Bruderhof consider themselves "intern-denomintational" per their own site. They don't believe in themselves as a "recognized" denomination, which there itself takes them out of that possibly since a "denomination" by definition is "a recognized autonomous branch of the Christian Church". They (like myself) think denominations are divisional. This question is about denominations, though RKG does say "congregation".
    – Jesse
    Commented Jul 10, 2014 at 15:30
  • 3
    @Jesse That is a completely pointless objection to this answer. Not only does it already make clear how the terms are used in relation to the groups involved, but you don't seem to understand the way the term is used here or in Christianity in general. For the purposes of this site "denomination" is just a convenience moniker for a group of people with similar beliefs and practices that have some relation to eachother on account of those things.
    – Caleb
    Commented Jul 10, 2014 at 15:55
  • @Jesse This might help you get your head around what's going on around here: meta.christianity.stackexchange.com/a/3824/30
    – Caleb
    Commented Jul 10, 2014 at 15:59
  • A denomination (whether the sites purpose or not) is, by definition, as I pointed out above. To my knowledge, as I've been told, this site being CHRISTIANITY.SE, pertains to Christianity. As the Bruherhof contains mixed denominations (and in some cases, religions) they do not (nor are recognized) as a denomination by its Christian definition. Per Chrisitan definition, Catholics/Protestants/Lutherans/Baptists/etc that practice in giving through donations and fundraisers would be. Taking a lifetime vow of obedience and poverty (per their site) is not the same thing.
    – Jesse
    Commented Jul 10, 2014 at 16:09
  • 1
    Thanks @Flimzy, great answer. I'll be sure to check out the link on the Bruderhof, as well as the other suggestions :-)
    – RKG
    Commented Jul 11, 2014 at 7:01

If you have seen the movie The Mission, then you may have noticed a communal society lived by the natives in the various missions led by Jesuit priests. Historical records corroborate that indeed they lived a Christian-based, communal life. From Jesuit Reductions:

Smaller missions had two priests, whereas larger missions had more. Populations varied from 2,000 to 7,000. In the morning, children's hymns were followed by Mass and breakfast, after which the workers went to their tasks. "The Jesuits marshaled their neophytes to the sound of music, and in procession to the fields, with a saint borne high aloft, the community each day at sunrise took its way. Along the way at stated intervals were shrines of saints where they prayed, and sang hymns between shrines. As the procession advanced it became gradually smaller as groups of Indians dropped off to work the various fields and finally the priest and acolyte with the musicians returned alone" (Graham, 178–9). At noon each group assembled for the Angelus, after which came dinner and a siesta; work was then resumed until evening. After supper came the rosary and sleep. On rainy days they worked indoors. Frequent festivals with sham battles, fireworks, concerts, and dances enlivened the community.

Aside from the main farm, each man typically had his own garden, pursuing agriculture, stock raising, and the cultivation of maté. Jesuits introduced many European trades and arts to their communities. Cotton weavers, tanneries, carpenters, tailors, hat makers, coopers, boat builders, silversmiths, musicians and makers of musical instruments, painters, and turners could sometimes be found. They also had printers, and manuscripts were also produced by hand copying.(Graham)

The goods that were produced at the missions, including cattle, were sold in Buenos Aires and other markets under the supervision of the priests. The proceeds earned were divided among a common fund, the workers, and dependents.

Note also the combination of communal and individual labor and the variety of trades pursued.

  • Thanks @JakeToronto for this info, this is very interesting
    – RKG
    Commented Jul 13, 2014 at 16:52

I agree with @Flimzy's excellent reply, but I see he didnt answer your question completely, and since I can't comment (not enough reputation) I will add this reply.

Regarding living arrangements. They used large apartment buildings where families had their own living room and bedrooms, and then shared kitchens (sometimes private) and public restrooms (male and female separate). They did NOT have everything in common, for example their wives!

When I visited one group in the 1980's they were struggling in how to include an African Bruderhof group, as their standard of living would be much less then they were accustomed to, and they didn't know how they could live at a lower standard of living, or how to justify having a higher standard of living than their "brothers." A very difficult question, I don't know how they resolved it.

They made group decisions by consensus of the whole community of perhaps 600 people! They had a difficult time wrestling with if they should take and eat the free ice cream pies that a local factory produced that were flawed, but healthy and scrumptious, but not simple.

  • 1
    Can you provide some references for this?
    – curiousdannii
    Commented Nov 5, 2014 at 23:43
  • Just based on a weekend visit I had there, either in Rifton or Ulster, I don't remember which. It was close to a Friendly's Ice Cream pie factory, in the late 1980's. It certainly made an impression on me. Especially since a friend of mine had left the very same community, that he had grown up in. Commented Nov 7, 2014 at 2:26

Yes, the Bruderhof Communities do that, although with some practical limits such as having personal clothing and toiletries. Their beliefs are outlined in this document that states:

We are a fellowship of brothers and sisters, both single and married, who are called by Christ to follow him together in a common life in the spirit of the first church in Jerusalem. We desire to remain true to this calling all our lives. For its sake we gladly renounce all private property, personal claims, and worldly attachments and honors. Our vocation is a life of service to God and humankind, freely giving our whole working strength and all that we have and are.

Bruderhof members do not live as monks and nuns but are a congregation of families, children, and single people who live on their community locations worldwide. While some people confuse them with more reclusive groups such as the Amish, they run a publishing house and welcome visitors as well.


The answer to this question can really, literally, only be answered with "it depends on who you ask". Before throwing a downvote at me, read on though:

We see in Acts 2:45 one of the reasons they gave to the poor - they had need - which reflects Christ teaching throughout the Gospels (as well as many OT passages) to fulfill the needs of those in need:

And sold their possessions and goods, and parted them to all men, as every man had need. - Acts 2:45

“If a man shuts his ears to the cry of the poor, he too will cry out and not be answered.” - Proverbs 21:13

In 1 John 3:17 we see the same reflected

“If anyone has material possessions and sees his brother in need but has no pity on him, how can the love of God be in him?”

And in Job

“I rescued the poor who cried for help, and the fatherless who had none to assist them” (Job 29:12)

So we see it one of two ways, really:

either a) no, (to my knowledge) no denomination actively sells their possessions. I had asked a pastor this before, and in his opinion this was because of the incident with Jesus and the scourge in the temple in John 2. Since selling implies the exchange of money (at least, again, in his opinion).

or b) if you consider regular charity, giving to those in need, and fundraising to be fulfilling of the verses quoted in your question, then there are many that actively do this. Sometimes these are personal possessions, sometimes they are possessions given to them by the community.

  • 1
    it depends on who you ask? I don't think so. There either are, or are not, denominations that sell all their possessions.
    – Flimzy
    Commented Jul 10, 2014 at 15:11
  • 1
    @Flimzy absolutely. But my basis for "it depends" was clearly outlined in my answer, which gives me the impression that you didn't read it at all.
    – Jesse
    Commented Jul 10, 2014 at 15:31
  • Well, read my answer and you'll see that your answer is outdated... because you will suddenly be aware of groups that do sell all of their possessions :)
    – Flimzy
    Commented Jul 10, 2014 at 15:32
  • 1
    @Flimzy as I pointed out, they are not a denomination (by definition) - nor do they consider themselves to be one per their site. So no.
    – Jesse
    Commented Jul 10, 2014 at 15:34

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