The book does exactly what it says in the sub-title. The author is regarded as one of the foremost authorities on the subject having fostered small communities and groups on every continent as member, coordinator and promoter for the past forty years. This work took him to the halls of academia, towns, cities, villages and remote mission stations worldwide. The result is that his take on the subject is unique and of huge interest not only to ordinary people but to students and academics as well. The phenomenal increase of small communities and groups in the world is creating an ever-growing constituency for a book of this kind. It is the authors final contribution on the subject. Our present dire economic crisis has led to a revival of interest in community.
The book has three parts.
Part one: This gives the vision: the churches as communion issuing out onto the wider kingdom of God, the spirituality (befriending each other in God), the essential components of community - all under girded by an exciting theology of the Trinity as community.
Part Two: A section that deals with practicalities: Organisation, Starting, Leadership, Decision-making, Problem solving, Meetings - thirty samples of meetings that have taken place provided, Pastoral planning, Common issues that arise.
Part three: A Historical Profile of Small Christian Communities and Groups. This is probably the only existing complete historical account of a low-profile phenomenon that has swept through the world since the 1940s. the accounts are provided by experts from each continent.
The work concludes with:
Appendix - passages for Bible sharing; Annotated Bibliography; Key web sites; Notes; Index.
James O'Halloran is a Salesian who has worked with communities for forty years as member, coordinator and promoter. This mission he has carried out worldwide from the halls of universities to cities, rural villages and far-flung mission stations. Twenty of the forty years were spent between Africa and Latin America. At the moment he is based in Ireland where he is involved in a project for homeless young people and helps in a Dublin inner city parish.
Anyone seeking a vision of a renewed Church should read this book. A text of unimpeachable quality.
- Hallel, Europe
Clear about the elements of a viable church vision for the 21st century.
- National Catholic Reporter, USA
At last the book I have longed to see from the person best fitted to write it. Whatever the form of ministry lay or ordained, I was able to recommend this book as one filled with wisdom. For me this is the Book of the Year.
- Coracle, Iona, Scotland.