The Work of Christ Community, East Lansing, Michigan
A member of The Sword of the Spirit:

Frequently Asked Questions

Is the Work of Christ a church? Do people leave their church to join the Work of Christ?

The Work of Christ is not a church; it is a community of people who belong to many different Christian churches. Members of the Work of Christ remain active in their parish or congregation. They live a common life that is complementary to and supportive of church membership.

Is it necessary for all Christians to live in community?

The New Testament describes the Christian life in ways that are clearly corporate and communal. Christians are called to relate to one another as “brothers and sisters.” They are to be knit together as “members of one body.” They are “members of the household and family of God.” In this sense, all Christians are called to live in community.

Relatively few Christians, however, will actually live in a community like the Work of Christ. By its existence, however, the Work of Christ hopes to be a witness to the communal dimension of the Christian faith, a dimension that is weak or missing in the lives of many believers. We hope that our life together encourages individuals and groups of Christians to examine the New Testament call to a corporate life and take tangible steps to grow in it.

Why don’t members form community within their local parish or congregation? Why form community alongside, but still separate from, church life?

Christian communities are formed with those people who hear the Lord’s call and are willing to embrace it freely. In our case, people who had a vision and desire for a deeper life together were scattered among several different Christian traditions. Because of this, the Work of Christ has always been an ecumenical community. Members of the Work of Christ love the churches of which they are members. They want to serve their church and work for renewal within it. They also see a need for tangible Christian Community and are willing to build that life with members of other churches.

We feel that the Lord has called The Work of Christ to be a special witness to ecumenical cooperation. This call reinforced our decision to build community with Christians from different traditions. The Christian people have been divided for almost a thousand years. The issues that divide us are important, but so is the fact that we are brothers and sisters in Jesus Christ. Ecumenical Christian community provides a way for Christians from different traditions to live and work together towards a common goal while we wait and pray for greater unity.

The Work of Christ is a “covenant community.” What does that mean?

The Work of Christ has a written document called a covenant, which expresses what sort of people we hope to be in relation to the Lord and to one another. Members make a solemn promise to live out this covenant to the best of their ability. The covenant, written with the input of community members and approved by formal consensus, is an expression of what God has called us to be. The covenant can be changed (and has been several times) by a two-thirds vote of the community. Click on this link to read our covenant: Our Covenant

Does everyone in the Work of Christ live together?

While some Christian communities choose to live and work together, this has not been our choice. What is essential for community is a family-like bond of love in Christ and a common way of life that expresses our love for God and for our brothers and sisters in Christ. Living in close proximity to one another, however, does help to build a stronger community life. For this reason, many community members have decided to live near one another in one of several neighborhood clusters. Some people in the Work of Christ do live together in residential Christian households. A household can be a group of single men or a group of single women who live together, or it could be a family who invites singles to live with them and share in family life.

Who can join the Work of Christ?

Membership in the Work of Christ is open to all people who have committed their lives to Jesus Christ, have been baptized in the Holy Spirit, and are serious about living the Gospel way of life.

How do people join the Work of Christ?

People interested in joining the Work of Christ begin by becoming "affiliate members." During the affiliate stage, which normally lasts one or two years, people begin participating in community life and receive instruction in Christian living. The affiliate stage is followed by the "underway commitment," which normally lasts two or three years. Underway members participate fully in community life and receive instruction in community living. The affiliate and underway stages provide a time for personal growth in the Christian life and for discernment of a call to join the Work of Christ. Those who complete this time of learning and discernment are asked to make a full "public commitment" to live as a covenanted member of the Work of Christ. The public commitment is open-ended in that members agree to remain part of the community unless the Lord clearly leads them elsewhere. People who do not wish to make a public commitment may become "associate members," a more limited form of community membership.

How are leaders chosen in the Work of Christ?

A body of leaders called “coordinators” governs the Work of Christ. A “senior coordinator” serves as chairman and leads the body of coordinators in their work.

New coordinators are proposed by the body of coordinators and are confirmed by a two-thirds vote of the membership following a time of training and temporary service in the role. The senior coordinator is elected by the membership to serve a five-year term.

In addition to the coordinators, there are many other people involved in guiding community life such as leaders of men’s and women’s groups, heads of service groups and ministries, and elected members of an advisory council.

Are there other communities like the Work of Christ?

Yes. There are thousands of Christian communities in the U.S. and around the world. Some are very similar to the Work of Christ and some are very different. The Work of Christ belongs to a “community of communities” known as the Sword of the Spirit. There are about 70 Sword of the Spirit communities around the world. Communities in the Sword of the Spirit have a similar approach to community life, share a body of teaching, have a number of regional activities, and work together in Christian outreach and community building. Click on this link to visit the Sword of the Spirit web page: Sword of the Spirit

How do children fit into the community?

Christian community is a wonderful environment for children. Children experience a network of relationships with peers, older and younger children, and many, many adults. They grow up in a society of love and support that helps them develop personally and as Christians.

Elementary children enjoy a special program during community meetings, but what they really look forward to is summer camp. The Work of Christ rents a facility each year and takes the third through sixth grade children camping. Over two hundred people are involved as campers and staff. Summer camp is a lot of work, but it is also a time when everyone - the children and the adults - experience a special closeness to Jesus and to one another. Click on this link to read more about the Work of Christ children's programs: Children

Middle-school children get together twice each month for teaching and sharing. They have regular social activities and an annual weekend retreat. The community often organizes a weeklong get away for the middle-school students over the summer.

The high-school group alternates between a teen prayer meeting one week and sharing groups the next. They also have regular social events and service projects. Several times each year, Work of Christ teens get together with teens from other communities for conferences and retreats. They also participate in mission trips organized by the Sword of the Spirit. Mission trips allow teens to serve the Lord in Mexico, Central America, Europe, and closer to home as well. The aim of the youth program is to give young people multiple opportunities to experience Christ, to help them live a radical Christian life, and to foster lasting Christian friendships. The high-school group is really a Christian community for young people. Click on this link to read more about the Work of Christ youth group: Christian Youth in Action

Children in the Work of Christ are considered fully a part of community life until, as young adults, they decide to join the community or to follow the Lord’s guidance elsewhere.

Are college students part of the community?

Nearly 100 college-age people are active in the Work of Christ’s University Christian Outreach (UCO). In many ways UCO is very similar to the Work of Christ, but structured and oriented to college life. UCO has prayer meetings, small groups, residential households, Christian teaching, social activities, retreats, and many service opportunities. UCO members are encouraged to share in the life of the broader community. Many UCO members are also affiliate or underway members of the Work of Christ. Click on this link to see more about University Christian Outreach: University Christian Outreach

How does the Work of Christ get its income?

The Work of Christ is supported through the generous gifts of its members. Most members work outside the community in regular jobs. They provide for themselves and their families with their income, but they are also committed to the financial support of their church and the community and to help with the special needs of their brothers and sisters in Christ. The amount of money given to the community is a personal decision made by each community member.

Does the Work of Christ have a statement of faith?

Because members of the Work of Christ belong to several different Christian traditions, we do not have a single, comprehensive statement of faith. However, the Work of Christ adheres to the primary Christian beliefs as they have been held by the mainstream of Christianity through the centuries. Members accept the truths stated in the Apostles and Nicene Creeds and are encouraged to turn to their church in matters of doctrine. Teaching given in the Work of Christ is ecumenical and focuses on our commonly held Christian truths and on practical Christian living.

Why do people join the Work of Christ? What do they expect to get out of it?

People join Christian community for many different reasons. Some have a strong desire to live out a more committed Christian life. Others are attracted by the charismatic spiritual life. Some are looking for the family-like relationships found in the community. Others want to grow as Christians or see the Work of Christ as a good place to love and serve the Lord. The decision to join Christian community is a personal response to the work of the Lord in the life of an individual.

Members receive teaching that is Biblical and practical - that will help them with their day-to-day lives. They receive tangible support to grow in the Christian walk and in Christian maturity. They become part of a loving network of people. They can expect the gifts God has given them to be employed to help build the kingdom of God and to reach others for Jesus Christ.





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