Summer Book Club: Life Together

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Years ago a friend gave me a copy of Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s book, Life Together. I have since read it more than once and would list it as one of the most important Christian books I own.

Dietrich Bonhoeffer was a Lutheran pastor who lived in Germany during the rise of the Third Reich. A critic of the Nazi party, Bonhoeffer had escaped Germany to study overseas and landed a comfortable job pastoring a German-speaking church in London. Distressed by news of what was happening in his country, he returned to Germany to start an underground seminary designed to train pastors who would lead congregations that could stand against the political pressures being imposed on the German church. The seminarians lived in a communal setting in rural Germany, eating, working, studying, and praying together daily. After the seminary was closed by the authorities, Bonhoeffer took four weeks to record what he learned about Christian community through the experience. The book he produced, Gemeinsames Leben (Life Together), has since become a Christian classic.

Though not a long book (less than 100 pages), Life Together offers profound insight into what it means for Christians to experience genuine community. The author explains that for true Christian community to exist it must focus on Christ alone, not on a political cause, a church mission statement, a distinctive worship style, a shared cultural background, or anything else. Bonhoeffer also stresses the importance of meeting Christ in the lives of the imperfect (and sometimes disappointing) Christians whom God has placed in our lives. To fantasize about an ideal community of perfect Christians makes the experience of genuine community impossible. In exploring the concept of community, Bonhoeffer talks about the need for Christians to pray together, work together, worship together, and confess their weaknesses to each other. He also explains how important it is for believers to experience communion with Christ on their own.

To watch a video explaining the content and importance of this book click here.

This summer an ACC book club will study Life Together. Participants will be asked to purchase (or borrow) the book, to read the assigned chapters before the meetings, and to meet by zoom three times to share their insights with the group. The meetings will take place on Thursday evenings at 7:30 on July 28, August 11, and August 25.

To sign up to join the book club, click here.