Christine D. Pohl is associate provost and professor of Christian social ethics at Asbury Theological Seminary, Wilmore, Kentucky, and the author of Making Room: Recovering Hospitality as a Christian Tradition. People have high hopes for a faith community that is not torn apart by dogma and disagreement, by moral failure or group meltdowns, by dishonesty or personal vendettas. What is the antidote to breakdowns and fissures in Christian congregations? Pohl suggests four practices:

1, Making and keeping promises

2. Living and speaking truthfully

3. Expressing gratitude

4. Offering Hospitality

Under each of these practices, she includes an exploration of the biblical or theological ramifications of the topic, a look at some of the possible complications and deformations which can develop, and ways to strengthen these character qualities in our lives and communities. Questions on each of the four practices are located in the back of the book.

For example, in her coverage of gratitude, she quotes Henri J. M. Nouwen who described gratitude as "our home in the presence of God" and theologian Karl Barth who wrote that "to believe in Jesus Christ means to become thankful." Pohl celebrates gratitude in community as the heart of worship but laments that this practice is out of step with the culture where entitlement seems to hold sway alongside busyness. Complications can arise when someone is not thanked for contributing to the welfare of the congregation or when gifts prove to be troublesome. Pohl does a fine job pointing out that gratitude provides a corrective to envy, grumbling, and ingratitude. She concludes with this:

"Gratitude and thanksgiving help to make all of the other practices more beautiful. When gratitude shapes our lives, fidelity is more likely to be joy-filled, truth is life-giving, and hospitality is offered with generosity and joy."