Fifty-two readings on living in intentional Christian community to spark group discussion.
Why, in an age of connectivity, are our lives more isolated and fragmented than ever? And what can be done about it? The answer lies in the hands of God’s people. Increasingly, today’s Christians want to be the church, to follow Christ together in daily life. From every corner of society, they are daring to step away from the status quo and respond to Christ’s call to share their lives more fully with one another and with others. As they take the plunge, they are discovering the rich, meaningful life that Jesus has in mind for all people, and pointing the church back to its original calling: to be a gathered, united community that demonstrates the transforming love of God.
Of course, such a life together with others isn’t easy. The selections in this volume are, by and large, written by practitioners – people who have pioneered life in intentional community and have discovered in the nitty-gritty of daily life what it takes to establish, nurture, and sustain a Christian community over the long haul.
Whether you have just begun thinking about communal living, are already embarking on a shared life with others, or have been part of a community for many years, the pieces in this collection will encourage, challenge, and strengthen you. The book’s fifty-two chapters can be read one a week to ignite meaningful group discussion.
About the editor: Charles E. Moore is a member of the Bruderhof community and teaches at the Mount Academy in New York. He writes for Plough Quarterly and has compiled and edited several acclaimed books, including Provocations: Spiritual Writings of Kierkegaard, Everyone Belongs to God: Discovering the Hidden Christ, and Bearing Witness: Stories of Martyrdom and Costly Discipleship.
This book challenged me. It raised issues about the way our families and communities are set up that I had never before questioned. It covered personal heart-issues of servant-hood, submission, and living out the love we have been shown. It highlighted relationships - the bitter and the sweet, the roles of forgiveness, discipline, and mercy. These authors wrote about humility, hospitality, and dwelling with people who need the gospel-good-news just as Jesus came and dwelt with us. I think the underlying question this book asked of me, personally, is this: am I fully giving of myself to the kingdom of God or am I holding pieces back, keeping what I can to make sure that I remain comfortable and uninterrupted? It's a question I'm working out with the help of the Holy Spirit &I am inspired by this book to keep learning from the love and life of Christ...until I can say, like Him, that I have given all that I can to love others for the glory of our Father.
This is a perfect book for a church small group or an intentional Christian community to read through together. My group is made up of people who all live in the same under-resourced urban neighborhood, though our "standard" church small groups are also using the book and enjoying it. On the surface level, I love that the book does all the work for you. No need to create curriculum as a pastor or small group leader as the format for the book works perfectly. We read a chapter aloud then there is discussion questions and Scripture readings included. But much deeper than that, and what I love most, is how the readings have helped us see how most of the definitions we use for Church today come from American values, not from biblical values. These aren’t easy concepts to digest. We all agree with them, but it’s a challenge to figure out how to apply them within the construct we are all used to. Walking this journey in community allows the Lord to convict us simultaneously, allowing him to reshape our collective paradigm not only for Church, but the Christian walk itself.
Moore has gathered together dozens of writers from today and earlier generations to help us think anew about community and what communal life might look like. The book is deep, challenging and important. Indeed, many of its lessons would apply to people of any faith and of none, though it's clearly written for Christians. In our deeply divided, fragmented world, we say we long for community, for belonging. What we must be careful about, however, is finding a community that is healthy and constructive, not one like ISIS or the KKK that feeds our fears and encourages the building of walls instead of bridges. This book can help with that. A lot.
Community is about learning to care enough to invest in the lives of those around us. Our mission is to follow the command to love, but we can't do that unless we're willing to get involved in the lives of others. Jean Vanier says "A Community is only truly a body when the majority of its members is making the transition ‘from the community for myself’ to the ‘myself for the community,’ when each person's heart is opening to all the others, without any exceptions." I would recommend this book to anyone interested in building a strong Christian community.
Called to Community lays claim to a fundamental truth: Christian faith is connecting faith. As a direct challenge to the individualism and isolationism of contemporary secular notions of “freedom”, Charles Moore has brought together some seminal thinkers for reflecting on the abundant life, the life together, that Jesus envisions for those who follow him.
Have you ever had the unsettling experience of being in a room filled with people, desiring nothing more than to make an authentic connection with just one person, but leaving feeling disconnected and more alone than ever before? Ironically, in a world where advances in digital technology have seemingly brought humanity closer together, on a personal level, we are more isolated and further apart than ever before! When Jesus said that He came so that we may have life and that we may have life more abundantly, this is obviously not the life that he envisioned for us. If you are tired of living a disconnected, fragmented life – if you’re ready to make meaningful connections – if you’re ready to explore the abundant life that Jesus describes in John 10:10 – then Called To Community: The Life Jesus Wants For His People will be of great interest to you!
Not all these contributors are across-the-board cheerleaders: the challenges of living in community – real, radical community rather than the lipstick-level interactions we often content ourselves with – are discussed at length in several of the fifty-two chapters, from a variety of perspectives. For me as a pastor, blogger, and Christian, such honesty is refreshing. That level of straightforwardness ought not be so rare a thing in my line of work, but that too is a part of community: it should (in theory) breed further authenticity and honesty in each of us. Called to Community treats community for what it is rather than what we might want it to be or not be: something amazing, something difficult, and something ultimately worth striving for.
If you are involved in a missional community, or if you are contemplating it, or if you just want to know how to maximize the sense of community in your local congregation or prayer group, “Called to Community” can be a priceless, and much used, resource.