Part I, Part II, Part III

A major challenge facing the church today is to “Cultivate Communities of the Holy Spirit.” The spirit is the key “distinctive characteristic of such communities” and it “creates and sustains them.” The authors very clearly point out that “the church owes its origin, its destiny, its structure, its ongoing life, its ministry – in short, its mission – to the divine Spirit of life, truth and holiness.” (145)

Of course, a church that is characterized by the Holy Spirit will show the fruit in its life together. (147) This concept of life together is also exceptionally important. We should not view our lives as Christians as individualistic affairs. “Christian faith is not an individual matter; everything is to be done with and for one another.” (148) In these communities we “unlearn old patterns and learn new ways of living that reveal God’s transforming and healing power.” (152) To do this, the church must regain its communal practices that are historical, communal, experiential and dynamic. (154-158) Our decision-making must become more communal listening to the Spirit rather than top down organizational decision-making. (172)

All of these practices point towards a community that is standing out from the world as a sign, witness and foretaste of the kingdom of God. “These practices not only form and guide the internal life of the community but also define the church’s action within the world. Witnessing to God’s creative intent for all humanity, they model and thus proclaim a different way of life to a watching world.” (182)

Part V later this week…