Category: Congregation - Anna S. Christie, B.A., M.Div., RCC
 
I made a resolution in 2012 to write a book for congregations and clergy. The working title is "Communities of Love." I would like to create a book that can be studied by Boards, Committees as well as groups of clergy, so it's important to me that it's written in a style that is easily accessible for laypeople. I will also include study questions at the end of each chapter. The theme of the book will be how to create a community in this post-modern era, in the mainline church, that focuses not on growth but on being truly loving as Christ commanded.

Most congregations think they are loving because they are all friends and love one another. Some even go so far as to be loving toward the stranger - the homeless person, the transgendered person, the new immigrant. But after 30 years in the pulpit and 35 years as a presbytery member, I have seen some of the most unloving behavior on the planet. Most of it is directed toward clergy or paid staff, but some of it toward people within the faith community who are on a different side of an issue.

I would really love for my Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn communities as well as anyone else to engage in some conversation here. I would like to hear your stories. The good and the bad. Tell me about faith communities you've worked in that were truly loving!

Here is the outline of the book at this early stage, and a few roughed-out ideas. Tell me what you think, and if I'm missing anything.

  1. LOVE - defined; Scripture-base; that Jesus guy; truth-telling; chronic "niceness";
  2. DECISION-MAKING - Spiritual discernment/World Cafe vs. Parliamentary process
  3. GOVERNANCE - models for a postmodern church
  4. PASTORAL CARE - Frameworks; Small Groups; Lay teams; Training; Emergencies
  5. CLERGY & STAFF - How does the community treat the people who challenge them?
  6. PREACHING & WORSHIP - Is preaching passe?; worship wars; worship's goal.
  7. PERSONNEL COMMITTEES & JUDICATORIES
  8. CHILDREN & YOUTH
  9. CONFLICT RESOLUTION - strategies & frameworks
  10. LIFE-LONG LEARNING - leadership development, theological reflection, Bible study, spiritual growth.
  11. WELCOMING - who and how do we welcome others into our communities?
  12. CHARITY & SOCIAL JUSTICE - missional churches; looking outward; social club to social justice