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Are there recommendations for a (concise) introductory book for learning about the customs and rules of a Christian life? For example, what principles to live by, what to eat and fast during special days in a year, and what activities to be expected at weekly church gatherings. If location is helpful, I live in the United States. It doesn't matter whether Catholic or not.

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    Every single denominated group has their own literature. Personally, I have the entire works (twenty volumes) of William Huntington, the entire works (28 volumes ?) of J N Darby and most of the writings of John Metcalfe (at least thirty publications). The 'concise introductory' book is the New Testament which (at about 140,000 words) fits neatly into two paperback books.
    – Nigel J
    Sep 17 at 18:43
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    Discipleship Class Most churches have new converts or inquirers attend Discipleship Classes (or Catechism classes) to learn about the customs and beliefs (rules) of the Christian Church. At those classes people are introduced to Handbooks on the Bible which give a basic understanding on what it teaches. This usually includes a Creed, which summarizes the doctrines of the individual church or denomination. Many churches also have libraries for learning more in depth about the history of Christianity. Pastors and Teachers are there who are willing to guide you in this amazing safari.
    – ray grant
    Sep 18 at 21:34
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    @Tim-Many of the New Convert classes I've researched have a concise booklet called something like: Now that you believe. They do an excellent job of explaining the Basics of Church Life : Creeds, Community life, Charity, Charismata, and most important of all, Christ!
    – ray grant
    Sep 18 at 21:43
  • We aren't really about rules. We have customs, but what a variety! Catholic feast days, Baptist Sunrise Services, Bible school songs...
    – Maverick
    Sep 21 at 1:16

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Customs and rules? The only “custom” Jesus asked us to follow was to remember his death (and resurrection) until His return. The only “rule” Christ Jesus commanded us to follow was to love the Lord our God with our entire being—heart, mind, body, and soul—and to love our neighbour as we love ourselves (Matthew 22:36-40).

Jesus condemned the religious leaders of his day because they were totally fixated on the Law and on rules and customs. He called them hypocrites because their hearts were far removed from God and they were like whitewashed tombs—white on the outside but full of dead men’s bones on the inside (Matthew 23:27). Christianity isn’t about following man-made rules and customs. It’s about being transformed by the love of God and learning about Him. If you never set foot inside a church you would still be acceptable to God if you loved Him and worshipped Him in spirit and in truth (John 4:24).

A Christ-centered life is not to be confused with a religion-centered life. The Pharisees in Jesus’ day were religion-centered. They ate, drank, and slept the Law. They could spout rules, codes, and judgments as fast as a child can recite the ABCs, but Jesus had harsh rebuke for them. They were Law-centered but not love-centered, and it made all the difference (Matthew 23:25; Luke 11:42). A religion-centered life strives for supremacy, attention, and glory based upon performance. It keeps score and judges itself and others by self-made standards. Christ-centered lives rest in the finished work of Jesus on their behalf and yearn for holiness as a means of staying close to Him (Hebrews 12:14).

The secret to living a Christ-centered life is understanding the “fear of the Lord” (Psalm 19:9; Proverbs 16:6). The fear of the Lord is the continual awareness that our loving heavenly Father is watching and evaluating everything we think, say, or do. Those who live Christ-centered lives have developed a tangible awareness of the presence of Jesus (Matthew 28:20). They make decisions based upon the question “Would this please the Lord?” They avoid Satan’s traps and worldly entanglements because they evaluate their choices: “If Jesus was spending the day with me, would I do that? Watch that? Say that?” (1 Timothy 3:7; Ephesians 6:11). Every lifestyle decision is weighed on heaven’s scales and evaluated for its eternal significance. Lesser loves fall by the wayside because they steal time, resources, and energy away from the real passion of life—pleasing Jesus. However, living with the fear of the Lord requires a conscious, ongoing commitment to it, and even the most devoted will fail at times.

No person has ever lived a perfect life except Jesus (Hebrews 4:15). Even those who deeply desire a Christ-centered life will stumble, fall, sin, and make fleshly decisions in moments of weakness (1 John 1:8–10). But a Christ-centered person cannot endure living in disharmony with God and will quickly confess sin and be restored to fellowship with Him. This process of living in continual harmony with God is called sanctification. It is a lifelong process by which God makes us more like Jesus (Romans 8:29; Hebrews 12:14). When we first center our hearts on Him, our lives quickly follow.
Source: What should a Christ-centered life look like?

You ask if there is some sort of checklist we can read in order to find out what the “rules” of Christianity are, regardless of denomination. I suspect each and every denomination has its own rule books, and they will all differ. But what good will that do you unless you have read the gospels and the book of the Acts of the Apostles?

The best manual on this subject I know of is the Bible, especially the New Testament. There you will find out how to live a godly and Christian life and it’s not about eating and fasting or observing holy days.

Obedience—living the "good Christian" life—flows from a loving relationship. And obedience helps us remain in God’s love and therefore experience His joy. Being a "good Christian" is not about performing certain actions. It is about growing in love for Christ and allowing His Holy Spirit to transform our hearts and lives. Jesus is the author and perfecter of our faith (Hebrews 12:2), the recipe-writer and taste-tester for our lives. As we seek to know God and glorify Him, we also get to enjoy Him (Psalm 73:25—26). The good Christian knows God, enjoys God, and grows in grace.
Source: How can I be a good Christian?

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Francis August Schaeffer was an American evangelical theologian, philosopher, and Presbyterian pastor. He co-founded the L'Abri community in Switzerland with his wife Edith Schaeffer, née Seville, a prolific author in her own right. He has written a number of books outlining the direction in which philosophy, art, music, government, etc., should have gone based upon Christian Biblical principals and where they have gone instead.

You may find all of his works in this 5 volume set and I recommend all of his works but probably the best summary work would be:

How Should We Then Live: The Rise and Decline of Western Thought and Culture

Schaeffer's central premise in this book is: When we base society on the Bible, on the infinite-personal God who is there and has spoken, this provides an absolute by which we can conduct our lives and by which we can judge society.

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    Thanks. I would like to start with a concise introduction that covers the essentials in breadth.
    – Tim
    Sep 17 at 14:01
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Introduction to Christianity Most churches have Inquirers or New Converts attend Discipleship Classes (or Catechism classes) to learn about the customs and beliefs (rules) of the Christian Church. Most of these classes I have researched, have a concise booklet that they pass out, that are called something like, Now that You Believe. They do an excellent job of explaining the Basics of Church Life: Creeds, Community life, Charity, Charismata, Customs, and most important of all, Christ!

These Classes also introduce people to Bibles, Handbooks on the Bible, Devotional books, Hymnals, etc. They also provide the possibility of joining Small Study Groups, Fellowship Groups, Recovery Groups, etc. These groups are an excellent place for discussions about the customs and creeds. Some churches have Libraries, if you were interested in studying more on a particular custom or doctrine.

Often, in the entrance hallway, or church lobby, there is a rack containing information listing the Creed, the Pastoral committee, and contact info. The Creed pamphlet would give a concise listing of all the major beliefs or doctrines the church members subscribe to. Any customs about their worship in the congregational meetings are also usually laid out.

Smiling 'door greeters' are handy for inquiring about any of this information you are desiring.

(You might be interested in reading, John Stott's Basic Christianity...Larry Moyer's Welcome to the Family, Kregel Publ...Marc Estes's, Eternity, the Journey, City Church Publ.)

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  • A very good answer with regard to finding out about a specific denomination, although the OP does not specify whether it is only for Protestants. +1 for John Stott's Basic Christianity.
    – Lesley
    Sep 19 at 7:18

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