This study argues that the local eucharistic community (LEC) is an essential unit of life in the Orthodox Church. The LEC is understood as the community of people who are bound together by weekly participation in the Divine Eucharist around the same altar, in which they are united to Christ and one another, and who choose to live in deep intentional community, growing in the life of Christ together, caring for one another, and witnessing to the world. The author presents a framework for the study and nurture of LECs based on eight attributes, which are: eucharistic life, community life, Christian formation, stewardship, governance, evangelism, philanthropy, and cultural incarnation.
To gain a deeper understanding of LECs, their life is studied in the first century with some attention to the trajectory of their later development. Field research in the United States provides contemporary experience to supplement the understanding of healthy LECs. This research is supplemented by study of eucharistic ecclesiology, Orthodox missiology, and the Church Growth Movement to better understand how LECs should function and thrive in the twenty-first century. The new model of ministry presents a vision of healthy LECs as it has been developed in Albania and a practical plan for sharing this vision in other ecclesial contexts in the twenty-first century.