What is L’Abri?
L’Abri is a “shelter” from the relentless pace and pressures of 21st century life for genuine questions and honest reflection on the truthfulness of Christianity and its bearing on reality. Those of us who work at L’Abri believe the Bible to be true, and believe that becoming (and remaining) a Christian involves identifying, owning and addressing our doubts, questions and disillusionments as we move through life’s ups and downs. We believe that questions and doubts about God should be discussed thoughtfully and personally, and that answers—or at least clearer, more well-informed thinking—can be gained. At L’Abri, we do not think doubts and questions are opposed to faith; rather, addressing our doubts and questions make for a robust and resilient faith. L’Abri offers time and space to do just this.
The short story of L’Abri…
L’Abri Fellowship was born in the Swiss Alps in 1955 when Francis and Edith Schaeffer began opening their home to their children’s friends who were curious about Christianity. In the years that followed, hundreds of travelers seeking honest engagement with their honest questions about God, the Bible, and the Christian life found their way to the Schaeffer’s open door. At first and at its heart, L’Abri is a work of hospitality to the whole person, for the sake of the whole person. As Edith Schaeffer put it, “We are as concerned for living as we are for thinking and from the beginning the concern has been that the truth is as much exhibited in everyday life as it is defended in discussion. We do not do this perfectly of course but depend on the Lord to bring forth a measure of reality in our daily life.” Aptly named “L’Abri” (French for ‘shelter’), the work of providing a haven from the hurried, harried and dehumanizing pace and pressures of 21st century life has grown to include ten branches or resources centers on six continents.
For more on the L’Abri story including the origins of the Southborough branch, listen to The L’Abri Story: From Switzerland to Southborough by Mardi Keyes. For a detailed recounting of the early L’Abri story, read L’Abri by Edith Schaeffer. To learn about international L’Abri, please visit www.labri.org.
It has sometimes been thought that L’Abri is a place for intellectuals or intellectual pursuits only. This has never been the case. Far from being an academic environment, study and discussion at L’Abri is integrated into the real, often mundane, life of living with families and fellow guests, and working at all kinds of practical and necessary tasks—from washing dishes and doing laundry, to mowing the lawn or stacking firewood. At the heart of L’Abri life is the conviction that ideas matter, and they matter in how they do or don’t connect to and make sense of the real ‘stuff’ of life. We see this conviction as an important critique of our overly compartmentalized lives, and we hope experiencing this (albeit imperfect) integration of faith with the whole of life will be its own formative learning experience for all who spend time with us.
A wide variety of people come to stay with us for many different reasons. Guests of all ages, backgrounds, worldviews, educational and occupational experiences find their way to L’Abri. Some do not see themselves as Christians, and come looking for a place where their questions will be taken seriously. Many have some sort of Christian background, which they are questioning, considering abandoning, or seeking to strengthen. Many people come to L’Abri to explore what it means to live as a Christian in today’s world. Every guest brings their own unique story, thoughts, interests and questions. We’re really thankful for this.