Remember the era when people loved living in Christian community? So why not bring that way of life to a "community of churches" in which longtime members of cavernous, cathedral-type buildings open their lives and belongings to homeless churches? For decades now, God has been bringing revival to the US through immigrant church startups exploding with fearless vigor while many of our once stalwart churches continue to coddle a handful of folks each Sunday. Why not "stand on the table" and see God at work from a different vantage point? Some congregations own huge structures, others need space, we all need each other, and we can learn to share, kindergarten-style, first our passion for Jesus and his agenda, and secondly our stuff--holding the former tenderly, the latter loosely. It's all God's anyway, and will crumble without being used, so let's share it all gladly while we can! By concentrating on placing people's hands in the hand of Jesus, we can create a community of churches under one steeple, then under another steeple, then another, unlocking every room and every heart!
"Under One Steeple is a subtle book . . . Anderson beguiles with humor, real-life anecdotes, and look-over-my-shoulder stories of congregational life. A message of welcoming the stranger, incarnating loving and honest relationships, sharing one's possessions, relinquishing control, and seeing Christ in 'the least of these, my siblings'! The spiritual lessons identified in this volume may just be the key to faithful behavior in Western society in the twenty-first century!"
-Anthony G. Pappas
The American Baptist Churches of Massachusetts
"The stories are so real, and the nuggets of wisdom here and there by the author are so down-to-earth--and, above all, biblical. In a time when the stranger needs to be welcome in our nation, this excellent and 'different' book challenges us all to radical hospitality. Its paradigm par excellence is the 'hospiradical incarnation of Jesus.' Read this book, ponder its teaching wisdom, and then open your church doors to be blessed."
Professor of Christian Social Ethics
Founding Director of the Center for Urban Ministerial Education
Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary
"Under One Steeple is must-reading for any church sharing or planning to share space with another church or churches . . . Anderson, drawing on twenty years of experience in what she calls 'hospiradicality' (Christ's radical hospitality), helps readers adopt a positive attitude toward sharing, while giving much practical advice. Under One Steeple is written in a conversational and devotional style that stretches our tolerance of others for the sake of Christ's love."
-Aída Besançon Spencer
Professor of New Testament
Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary
"Lorraine Anderson brings the same openness and welcoming spirit to her book as she does to the groups that come inquiring about space at International Community Church. She brings an honest 'counting the cost' thoroughness to the challenge of shared space, with carefully thought-out forms and covenants at the back of the book, and yet a new vocabulary for working together . . . I heartily recommend [this book]!"
Assistant to the President
Emmanuel Gospel Center
Lorraine Cleaves Anderson (MDiv, Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary) is Senior Pastor of International Community Church (American Baptist) in Boston, where, for nearly fifteen years, numerous churches and organizations have joined ICC's "Christian community of churches."
About the Author
Lorraine Cleaves Anderson (MDiv, Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary) is Senior Pastor of International Community Church (American Baptist) in Boston, where, for nearly fifteen years, numerous churches and organizations have joined ICC's Christian community of churches.
Table of Contents
A Song: Reciprocate xi
1 Scrutinize the "Hospiradical" Incarnation of Jesus 1
2 Pinpoint the Nonnegotiables 8
3 Welcome Every Knock on the Door, Every Ring of the Phone 16
4 Host Whole People Groups 22
5 Listen for God's Wisdom 28
6 Say "Yes" as Often as Possible 35
7 Carpe Occasionem 41
8 Count the Cost Gladly 47
9 Keep the Infrastructure as Self-Managing as Possible 54
10 Drop Negative Signs and Business Lingo 58
11 Have as Few Rules to Enforce as Possible 64
12 Set Grace-Plumped Boundaries, and Leave the Maturing to God 67
13 Take Prayerful Risks 73
14 Celebrate Cultural and Linguistic Distinctives 81
15 Start Peer Learning Groups 88
16 Hang World Maps and International Art 95
17 Pray! Pray! Pray! 101
18 Play! Play! Play! 108
19 Stay! Stay! Stay! 113
20 Leave Well 119
Appendix A Covenant for Shared Space 127
Appendix B Covenant for Resident-Custodian 136
Appendix C Poems by Jack Powers 139