There is much talk today of ‘new ways of being church’ and ‘new monastic spirituality’. As Simon Reed explored the Celtic roots of the Christian faith, in community with others who drew inspiration from our spiritual ancestors in the British Isles, he came to realise that the third millennium church has much in common with the first millennium church, and more importantly, much to learn from it.
In Creating Community, he introduces us to a new but at the same time very old way of being church which is based upon three core elements: a Way of Life, a network of Soul Friends, and a rhythm of prayer. The book shows how the rediscovery of these elements by Christians today offers a vital key that opens up an ancient way for modern churches, one which not only helps to bring believers to lasting maturity but creates genuine and much-needed community in an increasingly fragmented world.
This book could be titled From the Ordinary Church: a Way of Life. Its author share the vision that the local church is the hope of the world and that each church can find its distinctive vocation. He observes that whereas many contemporary churches try to attract a crowd and then turn it into a community, the early churches in Celtic lands started as small communities and then gathered wider numbers.
But can our long-established small churches become living communities? From his own experience Simon argues that they can if they adopt three practices – a way of life, a network of soul friends and a rhythm of prayer. He establishes that a way of life coheres with New Testament practice and explores how to develop these.
I know Simon as a friend and colleague in The Community of Aidan and Hilda, which has Catholic, Orthodox and Evangelical members. He tells his personal story from within his own tradition. Always – and this is so refreshing – he is more concerned with the product than with the label.
The book is timely for, as the author points out, the moral disintegration which underlies the unravelling of community and society could herald a new dark age. Winston Churchill, when his country had its back to the wall in World War Two, famously said ‘Give us the tools and we will finish the job’. Simon gives us some tools. Let us, the readers, help to finish the job.
Holy Island of Lindisfarne | www.raysimpson.org