What expectations do we have of ourselves and others as Christians? How do Christians act? What do Christians do? Or, put another way: What, concretely, are the practices of a Christian life?
These are the sorts of questions we as the church can easily avoid in our week and and week out liturgies, Sunday School and Bible study. But it is precisely in getting specific about the practices of a Christian life that the Church of the Good Shepherd in Augusta has crossed the line from preaching into meddling in order to challenge the People of God in that congregation to refect their faith and beliefs in their daily life.
The specifics are spelled out in a newly released 20-page booklet called “Following Jesus” which puts meat on the bones of nine practices: Sabbath Keeping, Household Economics, A Life of Christian Discernment, Practicing Hospitality, Honoring the Body, A Life of Prayer and Study, Testimony, Service, and A Holy Death.
In a move I find quite interesting and helpful each of these nine areas is presented from a traditional Christian context and then from the perspective of the emerging cultural context of today. One example of this is that the booklet acknowledges that one’s work may make keeping Sabbath on Sunday prohibitive and challenges readers to consider how to plan and be intentional to make another day of the week the Sabbath if it can’t be Sunday.
In the words of the booklet, “The intent is not to become rigidly proscriptive, but to establish common and shared understanding of just what a particular practice means at Good Shepherd.”
The effect of this thoughtful and thought-provoking text is to move the congregation of Good Shepherd from being spectators to active participants in the faith we proclaim as Jesus’ followers. I am personally challenged by this booklet and hope that it will be widely read and discussed well beyond Good Shepherd. I recommend this booklet for groups in your church to read and discuss.
All of us need to be proded to not simply assent to the ideas of Christian doctrine, but to also put our faith into practice in our daily lives. “Following Jesus” is a useful step in that direction which guides us not just through timeless Christian practices, but through the realities of living into these practices in a culture increasingly divorced from its Christian roots. The PDF ofthe booklet is online here: Following Jesus
The Rev. Frank Logue
Canon to the Ordinary