Every church, every organization, has experienced them: betrayal, deception, grumbling, envy, exclusion. They make life together difficult and prevent congregations from developing the skills, virtues, and practices they need to nurture sturdy, life-giving communities.
In Living into Community Christine Pohl explores four specific Christian practices—gratitude, promise-keeping, truth-telling, and hospitality—that can counteract those destructive forces and help churches and individuals build and sustain vibrant communities. Drawing on a wealth of personal and professional experience and interacting with the biblical, historical, and moral traditions, Pohl thoughtfully discusses each practice, including its possible complications and deformations, and points to how these essential practices can be better cultivated within communities and families.
Every Christian should read this provocative book! Christine thoroughly delineates the interlocking relationships and dangerous deformities of practices that could deepen our communities but often destroy them. This volume is pertinent to our families, churches, even places of work.
—Marva J. Dawn, author, Truly the Community
Christine Pohl was writing about community before it was hip. So now she is cutting edge. We read her stuff when we were starting our community over 10 years ago, and it felt like she was reading our minds. Now her writing almost romantically reminds us of why we do the stuff we do. This book is great for those who are veterans of community and for those who are curious or even skeptics. Christine reminds us that we are created for, and in the image of, community—but that doesn’t mean it comes easy. This book is about the holy habits we need to cultivate if we are to experience and sustain real community. She is a wise scholar of community, but she’s also sort of a community groupie—of the best sort—she knows all the cool “bands” and has some amazing stories to tell. This new book is a gift to all of us who are longing to know that.
—Shane Claiborne, cofounder, The Simple Way
Christine Pohl’s Living into Community is truly a beautiful book. Pohl moves beyond abstractions about the church as alternative community by offering careful analysis of four core practices that sustain healthy community: gratitude, promise-keeping, truthtelling / living truthfully, and hospitality. With each of these practices, Pohl ‘goes under the hood,’ one might say, offering detailed discussions of their biblical-theological dimensions, the complications involved in attempting to practice them in contemporary western cultures, and their noxious and destructive deformations: envy, grumbling, betrayal, deception, and exclusion. This book is a worthy successor to Pohl’s groundbreaking Making Room and certainly cements her role in the contemporary Christian community . . .
—David P. Gushee, distinguished university professor of Christian ethics, Mercer University
A gem of a book—wise and practical, profound and accessible, analytical and beautiful. Too often people extol and romanticize ‘community’ without grappling with the concrete challenges of living into community and sustaining it for the long haul. But Pohl guides us into practices and commitments that transform our longing for community into what 1 Timothy calls ‘the life that really is life.’ An ideal book for lay study groups or college and seminary classes.
—L. Gregory Jones, author, Embodying Forgiveness