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The Mainliner's Survival Guide to the Post-Denominational World Paperback – August 15, 2014


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Editorial Reviews

Review

In these pages, Derek Penwell manages to reverse completely the direction of Dante's famous, opening admonition to his own readers; for the words over the entryway to The Mainliner's Survival Guide clearly read: Abandon Despair, All You Who Enter Here. Penwell not only effects that welcome shift adroitly, but he also does so by means of hard facts, keen observations, and experienced insight. This is a pilgrimage worth making. --Phyllis Tickle, author, Emergence Christianity

About the Author

Derek Penwell is senior minister at Douglass Boulevard Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) in Louisville, Kentucky, and a lecturer at both the University of Louisville and Bellarmine University. He is managing editor of [D]mergent, a blog devoted to extending and transforming the legacy of mainline Christianity, as well as chief blogger at The Company of the Eudaimon. He is the author of articles ranging from church history to aesthetic theory and the tragic emotions, and contributed to the recently released book, From Each Brave Eye: Reflections on the Arts, Ministry, and Holy Imagination.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 192 pages
  • Publisher: Chalice Press (August 15, 2014)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0827223641
  • ISBN-13: 978-0827223646
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.4 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #38,011 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Derek Penwell is an author, editor, speaker, and activist. He is the senior minister of Douglass Boulevard Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) in Louisville, Kentucky. He has been a lecturer at the University of Louisville in Religious Studies and Humanities, and at Bellarmine University in Theology. He has a Ph.D. in humanities from the University of Louisville, and is the author of articles ranging from church history to aesthetic theory and the tragic emotions, as well as the newly released book from Chalice Press, The Mainliner's Survival Guide to the Post-Denominational World, about how mainline denominations can avoid despair in an emerging world.

Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
I received my copy of Derek Penwell’s The Mainliner’s Survival Guide to the Post-Denominational World (St. Louis, MO: Chalice Press, 2014), and I sat down and read it today (186 pages). Here’s my take. So much has been written about the decline of mainline Protestantism (the so-called 7 sisters) in the last several decades that I almost hesitated to read it. Having personally grown up in a mainline Protestant tradition and having made a brief departure from it into the world of fundamentalism before returning with a renewed sense of belonging, I knew I had to read the book. Penwell, in addition to being the senior minister at Douglas Blvd. Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) in Louisville, KY, has considerable experience in teaching and dialoging with millennials in church and university settings. His book draws on highly credible finding from the Barna Group and from the Pew Research Forum on Religion along with many illustrative personal stories. This man knows how to make church history talk to the current state of American religion! He does this with grace, humor, and at times a bit of grit that would appeal to millennials meeting at Starbucks for coffee or a microbrewery for a glass of locally brewed beer.

In one of the most intriguing moves I think I have read, he links the state of religion in the post-Revolutionary period through the Second Great Awakening with its tendency to reject authoritative pronouncements from the landed East Coast religious establishment as people were moving out onto the planes of the US with events in current American society that have lead Generation X and Y along with millennials to reject the institutions of religion.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Beau Underwood on August 11, 2014
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
There is a crisis within mainline churches. While it has serious demographic and financial components, at its core the issue is one of theology and spirituality. Do we have the courage to go in the new directions that God beckons us? Are we willing to pick up our crosses and follow Jesus whatever the costs? Can we stop fighting with each other long enough to let that Still Small Voice into the conversation?

When a fire starts sensible people realize the danger and run away in fear. Others run towards the blaze, realizing the devastation won't stop without courageous, dedicated leaders willing to risk their own lives for the sake of others. Derek Penwell is one of those firefighters. He takes on the most challenging issues facing the contemporary church, believing that if we are willing to risk it all then we just might be reminded of who (and whose) we are.

It is imperative that mainline congregations rediscover their mission and identity. Lacking a clear reason for existing inevitably leads to extinction. This is the conversation Penwell is urging the church to have and helping us navigate.

Unless you're satisfied with the status quo and confident in the contemporary church's witness (which I'm certainly not), you NEED to read this book.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Mt. Healthy Christian Church on August 25, 2014
Format: Paperback
Derek is a colleague and someone I have admired since we were in seminary together, he 2 years ahead of me at Lexington Theological Seminary.
This book envisions a way forward into the future God means for us to have, rather than wallowing in all the bad news mainline or progressive Christianity has faced for 2 generations.
It is helpful, warm, faithful, transformational, visionary, prophetic, and even a bit attitudinal, all of which is to say that it reflects Derek perfectly.
Every Pastor and church leader who is facing the realities of how difficult it is to be the church of Jesus in the 21st Century should not only read this book but breathe it in, talk about it, digest it, and share it with as many others as possible.
A game changer for us all.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Kevin E. Ruffcorn on October 22, 2014
Format: Paperback
For years denominations have been losing members. Really the Christian church in North America has been losing members: denominations and non-denominational congregations, liberal and conservative, evangelical and mainline. Many authorities viewing the statistics predict the end of denominations, if not the Christian church. Sitting in on a discussion in some Christian circles is similar to listening to Chicken Little exclaim that the sky is falling; rather pessimistic. Penwell doesn’t repeat these dire predictions. Instead he is upbeat and writes that this could be a very positive time for the proclamation of the gospel.

Penwell compares today to the years following the Revolutionary War. He points out that after the war very few people adhered to any brand of Christian belief. Having just won a war from England, most people were rather anti-establishment and anti-institution. They rebelled against the authority and teachings of the church. The stress on personal freedom and the idea of endless opportunities proved to be fertile ground, though, for a Christian revival—the Second Great Awakening.

In the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries, the church was forced to adopt different styles of ministry in order to reach the population. Circuit riders and camp meetings were two of the adaptations that were successful. The church today also needs to adapt its ministry and message in order to effectively communicate the gospel to the younger generations. Penwell’s message is one of hope, but the church must be willing to embrace change.

I agreed with a majority of the author’s points. I found many of his thoughts affirming of what the congregation I serve is doing, and our results confirm Penwell’s premises. His book is also challenging.
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