Small Christian Communities Today: Capturing the New Moment

Article excerpt

Small Christian Communities Today: Capturing the New Moment. Edited by Joseph G. Healy and Jeanne Hinton. Maryknoll, N.Y.: Orbis Books, 2005. Pp. xiii, 224. Paperback $20.

This book presents an updated overview of a very significant movement in the Christian world in the past decades, the spread of "small Christian communities" throughout the world, often in nations previously considered as mission territories. These communities represent an effort to enable people to participate actively in the life of their churches at a grassroots level. In one sense, this movement is a reaction to larger church structures, such as the traditional parish, in which people feel anonymous and tend to be passive. In another sense, it represents a creative effort to achieve a greater faithfulness to the Gospel. Many of these communities were birthed among Catholics as a consequence of the second Vatican Council's new theological image of the church as the "people of God," which called for the active participation of laypeople.

These small communities are described throughout the book simply and fundamentally as "a new way of being Church. …