Happy New Year! This is the time of year when all of us, whether lightly or with great intentionality, think about how we want to live over the next weeks, month, and year. Ian Markham and Katie Glover have provided a lovely resource for this consideration. Designed for parishes and other communities of faith, it works just as well to offer the “community of faith” that gathers at your breakfast table a way into the conversation.
The goal of Community Rules is a healthy Christian community. To that end, Ian and Katie have distilled the theology and practice of the church into 48 simple and clear “rules,” seeking to weave together Christian beliefs that shape all Christian living with certain applied rules for relationship, leadership, and ethos.
While the primary venue for this book may be a church membership class or vestry, the rules are designed more generally to start a thoughtful conversation around the nature of Christian community. Ian and Katie acknowledge that every community is imperfect — even the community of household or family. “Becoming a Christian community is a process, but it is a process that begins with being intentional. Our prayer is that the result of engaging these rules will be Christian communities that are truly Christian, places where the values of the Gospel are present and evident in our relationships.”
So what does this mean for the individual reader? Lots! How can these rules help you — as an individual, or member of a family, a parish, or small group — think about the “rules” by which you live? How do you make financial decisions? Does your charitable giving reflect your values? Might your checkbook provide a realistic perspective on the Way of Love you follow? The new year offers the opportunity for a fresh start in making choices toward physical, financial, spiritual, and emotional health.
When Paul writes to the divided church at Corinth, he explains that in the end there is just one foundation to all Christian community. He writes, “For no one can lay any foundation other than the one that has been laid; that foundation is Jesus Christ” (1 Corinthians 3:11). Christ is both the inspiration (after all, we are followers of Christ) and the presence (for the resurrected Christ holds Christian community together). When we gather as a Christian community, it is Christ who is in our midst. As Jesus puts it, “For where two or three are gathered in my name, I am there among them” (Matthew 18:20).
Create a new community this new year, or strengthen one in which you are already living. Community Rules offers a delightful handbook for that resolution. This book is available on churchpublishing.org