Synopses & Reviews
For decades the accepted wisdom has been that America's mainline Protestant churches are in decline, eclipsed by evangelical mega-churches. Church and religion expert Diana Butler Bass wondered if this was true, and this book is the result of her extensive, three-year study of centrist and progressive churches across the country. Her surprising findings reveal just the opposite—that many of the churches are flourishing, and they are doing so without resorting to mimicking the mega-church, evangelical style.
Christianity for the Rest of Us describes this phenomenon and offers a how-to approach for Protestants eager to remain faithful to their tradition while becoming a vital spiritual community. As Butler Bass delved into the rich spiritual life of various Episcopal, United Methodist, Disciples of Christ, Presbyterian, United Church of Christ, and Lutheran churches, certain consistent practices—such as hospitality, contemplation, diversity, justice, discernment, and worship—emerged as core expressions of congregations seeking to rediscover authentic Christian faith and witness today.
This hopeful book, which includes a study guide for groups and individuals, reveals the practical steps that leaders and laypeople alike are taking to proclaim an alternative message about an emerging Christianity that strives for greater spiritual depth and proactively engages the needs of the world.
“This excellent and timely book celebrates a vastly important phenomenon that has been too little noticed.” Rowan Williams, Archbishop of Canterbury
There has been much hand–wringing in the past couple of decades about mainline Protestant church decline and what to do about it. Many of the attempts to curb this trend have been to emulate mega–church programs by offering full–service, entertainment style worship and programming. Sensing the possibility that an alternative vibrancy existed outside of this entertainment model, Butler Bass conducted a major grant study among progressive churches across the country. Bucking the trend pieces and conventional wisdom that only conservative churches are growing, the surprising results of the study revealed just the opposite.
Christianity for the Rest of Us both describes a phenomenon and offers a "how to" approach that will reach a ready–made, mainline Protestant book buying audience eager to remain authentic to their own tradition while still in need of guidance about how to do that. This is a hopeful book that reflects real, grassroots reporting from an author who is attracting significant attention by both church leaders and the religion media.
About the Author
Diana Butler Bass is the author of eight books on American religion, including Christianity After Religion, Christianity for the Rest of Us, and A People's History of Christianity. She holds a Ph.D. in Religious Studies from Duke University, has taught at the college and graduate level, and is currently an independent scholar. She was a columnist for the New York Times Syndicate, and blogs for the Huffington Post and the Washington Post on issues of religion, spirituality, and culture. Bass is a popular speaker at conferences, colleges and universities, and churches across North America. She lives in Alexandria, Virginia, with her husband, daughter, and dog. Her website is dianabutlerbass.com and she can be followed on Twitter at @dianabutlerbass.