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Joy Together: Spiritual Practices for Your Congregation


Although interest in spiritual practices has grown in recent years, most of the books available address individuals who wish to try Christian disciplines such as fasting or fixed-hour prayer. This book, by contrast, offers guidance and examples to Christian leaders as they seek ways to involve their congregations or small groups in spiritual practices.

In Joy Together, Lynne M. Baab describes six spiritual practices that congregations can attempt together: thankfulness, fasting,...

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Joy Together: Spiritual Practices of Your Congregation

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Although interest in spiritual practices has grown in recent years, most of the books available address individuals who wish to try Christian disciplines such as fasting or fixed-hour prayer. This book, by contrast, offers guidance and examples to Christian leaders as they seek ways to involve their congregations or small groups in spiritual practices.

In Joy Together, Lynne M. Baab describes six spiritual practices that congregations can attempt together: thankfulness, fasting, contemplative prayer, lectio divina, hospitality, and Sabbath keeping. She goes on to explore how these practices can help with congregational life and discernment and provides practical instructions for communicating with group members. Discussion questions are included at the end of each chapter so groups can delve into the topics more fully.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Noting that "the new creation in Christ needs continual shaping," Baab, a Presbyterian minister, retreat leader and author (Friending: Real Relationships in a Virtual World) offers a comprehensive, practical and inspiring guide for church leaders seeking to explore and share the fruits of spiritual practices in congregational settings. Ten chapters delve into six disciplines: thankfulness, fasting, contemplative prayer, contemplative approaches to scripture, hospitality, and Sabbath-keeping, focusing on opportunities and benefits of communal engagement. Drawing from personal pastoral experience and offering examples from other clergy's efforts to involve congregations in communal fasting, breath prayers, guided meditations and more, Baab provides a helpful range of models and settings. The chapter "Are Spiritual Practices Legalistic?" thoughtfully engages critiques offered by John Wesley and contemporary theologian William Willimon, urging openness to surprises of the Holy Spirit. Sidebar quotations from contemporary and ancient theologians add insights, as do questions for reflection, discussion or journaling, and suggestions for further reading. Numerous adaptive challenges faced by congregations in recent decades (consumerism, multiculturalism, financial pressures), make this resource for "developing a posture of receptivity" to God's blessings timely and welcome. (Sept.)
From the Publisher

"Baab exuberantly, and realistically, displays the way spiritual practices can strengthen groups or whole congregations of Christians. Her illustrations are convincing; her experiences, vast and confirming; her explanations, constructive. I heartily urge every Christian to read this book, significant as it is, because we who respond to the Trinity with practices need to learn to live more as a community!" Marva Dawn, Theologian, author of Keeping the Sabbath Wholly and Unfettered Hope

"This is a book I've been waiting for because formation is as much 'caught' as 'taught.' Thankfully then, Baab shows how congregations and small groups can build community and help each other by engaging in practices together." Jan Johnson, author of Spiritual Disciplines Companion and Invitation to the Jesus Life

"In her typically wise and inviting manner, Lynne Baab offers a distinctive approach to cultivating deeper spiritual lives in congregations by engaging ancient faith practices in fresh and timely ways. Her writing shimmers on every page. Her insights motivate. Her approach captures the deep joy of active Christian faith lived well with others in community." Allan Hugh Cole Jr., Academic Dean, Austin Presbyterian Theological Seminary, and editor of A Spiritual Life

"Faith is meant to be practiced in community, yet we rarely get help in accomplishing this. This is a great book with practical suggestions on how to enrich congregational life with spiritual practices that can be performed together. I love it." Christine Sine, Executive Director of Mustard Seed Associates and author of GodSpace

"In a world where happiness equals personal satisfaction or gratification it is lovely to come upon a book called Joy Together. The spiritual journey is not about hiking solo. It is a pilgrimage with others into prayer, hospitality, gratitude, Sabbath, etc. Those looking for ways to grow together with God will enjoy the personal and practical tack of Joy Together." Adele Ahlberg Calhoun, co-pastor Redeemer Community Church and author of The Spiritual Disciplines Handbook and Invitations From God

"This is terrific! Lynne is a wise and gentle guide to a deeper and more peaceful life. You will be blessed if you don't just read the book but do it, slowly." John Ortberg, senior pastor of Menlo Park Presbyterian Church and author of Who Is This Man? and The Me I Want to Be

"In Joy Together, Lynne Baab introduces six essential spiritual practices that can help congregations to spend time with Jesus, listen to what he is saying, be changed by him, and then speak and act in the world for him. Her insightful book provides practical and promising ways for groups to enter God's presence and be transformed." Henry G. Brinton, pastor of Fairfax Presbyterian Church in Virginia and author of The Welcoming Congregation: Roots and Fruits of Christian Hospitality

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780664237097
  • Publisher: Westminster John Knox Press
  • Publication date: 9/13/2012
  • Pages: 192
  • Sales rank: 989,970
  • Product dimensions: 5.50 (w) x 8.50 (h) x 0.70 (d)

Meet the Author

Lynne M. Baab, Ph.D. ( is the author of several books and Bible study guides on spiritual practices, including Sabbath Keeping and Fasting. She has also written books on online communication, such as Friending and Reaching Out in a Networked World. She is a Presbyterian minister and teaches pastoral theology at the University of Otago in Dunedin, New Zealand.
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Table of Contents

Acknowledgments vii

1 Discipline? No Thanks! 1

2 Thankfulness 19

3 Fasting 39

4 Contemplative Prayer 63

5 Contemplative Approaches to Scripture 85

6 Hospitality 109

7 Sabbath 131

8 Spiritual Practices and Congregational Discernment 151

9 Are Spiritual Practices Legalistic? Are They a Form of Self-Help? 169

10 Receptivity: The Gift of Spiritual Practices 185

Appendix: Communicating Strategically about Spiritual Disciplines 193

Notes 199

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