Christianity for the Rest of Us

I have just finished part one of Christianity for the Rest of Us, by Diana Butler-Bass.  The book is the result of her work in studying thriving mainline churches.  It is often argued that mainline churches are in decline (which statistically is true) and that conservative evangelical churches are on the rise.  These poles are thus attributed to the "liberal" mainline's "inattentiveness to scripture" and "worldly spirituality", leading many evangelicals to believe that all mainline protestant churches will fade away (some claiming that this is God-ordained.)  Butler-Bass, however, has identified numerous mainline churches that are functioning counter to this trend, not by embracing conservative evangelical theology and practice, but by reclaiming their tradition (not traditionalism), taking the Bible seriously (but not always literally…in a fundamentalist sense), and exercising a deep commitment to spiritual practices both communally and personally.

The first part of the book is simply story telling.  She asks the question (and offers her perspective) of, "What happened to the Neighborhood Church?"  While the church of our grandparents will never return…the world is simply too different…Butler-Bass, through her interactions with these congregations, believes that a new kind of mainline church is emerging.  This "emerging" church is one that joins with pilgrims on their spiritual journey, creating new homes and families along the way.

More to come…

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