Our friend Chris Smith, who is editor over at the Englewood Review of Books, has authored a brilliant yet simple little free e-book titled ‘Growing Deeper in Our Church Communities: 50 Ideas For Connection in a Disconnected Age!‘ In his introduction he laments:
“I hear people in all sorts of churches across North America longing for a deeper experience of community in their church and neighborhoods, and yet many are at a loss for practical ideas of how to start moving in this direction. Indeed, we have been formed by modern Western culture to live primarily as isolated individuals pursuing our own personal ends and ambitions. Although modern individualism has been filtering its way into Western culture for at least 400 years, its effects of breaking down communities have been felt most powerfully in recent decades.”
but he goes on to offer the Gospel-centric alternative:
Our age is truly one of disconnectedness, but there are good theological reasons for the hope that the Holy Spirit, working through our churches,can begin to reverse this pattern of isolation. The scriptural story reminds us throughout that God’s mission in the world is primarily one of reconciliation,and we as followers of Jesus are called as “ambassadors of reconciliation”(2 Cor. 5).If we are to be faithful to this calling,we cannot continue to live disconnected lives.
From there Chris touches on three areas, calling us to reconnect with:
- The Mission of GOD
I found the introduction to be both prophetic, in calling us out of a complacent disconnectedness, and encouraging in his reminder to us that as Christians, JESUS has opened up the way for our shalom (our wholeness and reconciliation with GOD and each other and even with creation). This part of the book is so powerful and truth-filled that I would recommend it to all Christians and church leaders for that alone. It is a quiet but revolutionary cultural critique that calls the church to abandon Western individualism and renew our call to be the Body of Jesus- connected in proximity, together pursuing the purposes of GOD.
But Chris didn’t stop there. For the rest of the book he takes his prophetic call from the realm of words to the nuts and bolts of our daily lives. From here you will find 50 accessible ideas that you and your congregation/friends can easily do to cultivate: intentional Christian community, missional living, whole-life discipleship and meet practical needs that are often hidden by our isolation from one another.
This free e-book is a call to a radical re-integration of our life and faith together. I highly recommend you take the time to skim the excerpts below and download the e-book to read and pass on to your friends and church leaders.
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