By Simon Reed
Published by The Bible Reading Fellowship
This book champions three practices – from the first millennium – to enable churches in today’s third millennium become living communities: a Way of Life; a network of Soul Friends, and a Rhythm of Prayer. Simon Reed offers these to answer two key questions seemingly being asked of the contemporary church: how do we create, maintain and deepen a genuine and lasting community, and how do we create mature adult disciples of Jesus?
Arguing passionately and persuasively that American-generated approaches to, and schemes of, evangelism are ultimately counter-productive because they don’t resonate sufficiently with British culture, Reed looks for guidance to a different millennium rather than a different geography.
As one of the three Guardians of the Community of Aidan and Hilda as well as being a vicar in London, Reed advocates a monastic approach. Adopting a Way of Life means applying the Bible’s teaching in practical ways: developing a ‘to do’ list for how to connect with God and how to connect God with the whole of life. Journeying with a Soul Friend’ – a mature Christian who’s in sympathy with your Way of Life and helps you discern and respond appropriately to God’s will – is an ancient euphemism for today’s buzzwords of spiritual buddying, mentoring and coaching.
Like the Soul Friend concept, the value of ‘journeying in a rhythm of prayer’ – in community with others either physically or virtually, via technology, at set times – seems self-evident. Yet one of the highly positive characteristics of this book is that it doesn’t merely discuss these issues, it offers practical suggestions for implementing them in today’s society. Rather than being an academic guide to ‘new monasticism’, Reed’s highly practical and praiseworthy approach is a valuable vade mecum.
By Bob Little
[This review was first published in The Baptist Ministers’ Journal, October 2014]