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The Practicing Congregation: Imagining a New Old Church Paperback – September 1, 2004

ISBN-13: 978-1566993050 ISBN-10: 1566993059

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 128 pages
  • Publisher: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers (September 1, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1566993059
  • ISBN-13: 978-1566993050
  • Product Dimensions: 8.5 x 5.5 x 0.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 3.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #387,017 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Diana Butler Bass is senior research fellow and director of the Project on Congregations of Intentional Practice, a research study of vital mainline Protestant churches at the Virginia Theological Seminary in Alexandria, Virginia. From 1995-2000, she wrote a weekly column on American religion for the New York Times Syndicate. She is the author of Strength for the Journey: A Pilgrimage of Faith in Community, a Publishers Weekly Notable Book of 2002, and Broken We Kneel: Reflections on Faith and Citizenship.

More About the Author

Diana Butler Bass was born in Baltimore, Maryland and grew up in Scottsdale, Arizona. For as long as she can remember, she's been interested in religion, history, and politics--the passions she intertwines in her books and writing. She holds a Ph.D. in American religious history from Duke University. After a dozen years teaching undergraduates, she became a full-time writer, independent researcher, educator, and consultant. Her work has been cited in the national media, including TIME Magazine, USA TODAY, and the Washington Post, and she has appeared on CNN, FOX, PBS, and on NPR. For five years, she wrote a weekly feature on American religion for the New York Times syndicate. She currently blogs for Huffington Post and Washington Post OnFaith and is a contributing editor at Sojourners magazine.

Customer Reviews

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It is interesting and informative.
Mary E. Johnson
The three-dimensional grid was particularly helpful, especially for those of us in the lower left quadrant -- progressive emergers.
Daniel S. Russell
Diana Butler Bass's new book is the first book I have seen that recognizes this new development.
David Marshall

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

35 of 38 people found the following review helpful By David Marshall on October 5, 2004
Format: Paperback
Diana Butler Bass' latest book is the first I have seen that recognizes and celebrates an important new development in American congregations. For years journalists and academics have been talking about Mainline Church decline but that has not been my experience. Since the 1990's I have been involved with congregations experimenting with new ways of being Christians together. The experiments have included different ways of worshiping and using group discernment in vestry (governing board for a congregation) meetings. In several congregations I have seen the celebration of Holy Week take on great significance as the people experience the Easter Story through ritual and worship. This vitality was not found in mega-churches or in old denominations trying to model themselves after seeker-churches. The Spirit is working in liberal-mainline churches across the country as Christians find new ways of making meaning in their lives through intentional, communal engagement with Christian practices. Diana Butler Bass's new book is the first book I have seen that recognizes this new development. Her research and analysis give us new language to talk about what is happening in our churches. New language and new metaphors allow us to speak hopefully about what God is doing in our congregations. Diana is a wonderful writer. This book is more academic than her earlier book, "Strength for the Journey," but her personal and poetic style is still quite evident. I bought five copies of this book to share with people in my church and friends in other churches.
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23 of 25 people found the following review helpful By A reader in Cincinnati on October 11, 2004
Format: Paperback
As one who is trying to help develop a vision for a struggling(dying?) inner city Catholic church, I found Bass' insights very helpful. We are struggling to find ways to enflesh the Gospel in ways that speak to the people in our neighborhoods. I'm finding it involves lots of presence and listening-and huge amounts of waiting on God's plan and timing.And maybe, as the book suggests, delving more into the riches of our tradition.

Though I've often seen myself as somewhat of an iconoclast, I realized, as I read Bass' book, that it has been the intentional taking on of such practices as spiritual direction and the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius that have enlivened my spirit and given me courage and grace to stay the course. I'm now looking at practices that might speak to our people. They may very well be the keys to breathing new life into our congregation.
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19 of 22 people found the following review helpful By Daniel S. Russell on February 14, 2005
Format: Paperback
I actually heard Dr. Butler Bass present this material at a clergy day in my diocese last year. Her work is both insightful and challenging. I especially appreciate her willingness to admit the shortcomings of her theories, not just gloss over them. The three-dimensional grid was particularly helpful, especially for those of us in the lower left quadrant -- progressive emergers. It can seem like a very lonely place indeed!

Kudos to Dr. Butler Bass on clarifying with some of the harder elements of the emerging post-modern church by not fearing to "complexify" the issues.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Jon D. Knecht on February 8, 2007
Format: Paperback
Building on the work of Craig Dykstra (author of "Edcuation and Christian pracitices") Bass shows how intentional pariticpation in Christian practices can help transform stagnent established congregations into intentional and practicing ones. She finds that the real differnce between Christians in America is not between liberals and conservatives or right and left but those who seek to intentionally be people of God and those who are satisfied with being merely an established and static organization. While trying to find common ground with conservatives Bass does at times revert to a smugness that can sound condeseding at times. This book is best viewed in conjuction with the Dykstra book mentioned above which presents a clearer and more systematic argument for the role of Christian practices within the congregation and world. I do highly recomentd this work because it has much to add to the deabte
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on March 12, 2007
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This book tells of the fabulous success stories still hidden amongst the headlines of mainline decline. It shows that tradition can still be held on to when there is openness to change and to do what is necessary to keep mainline churches alive and thriving.
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Diana Butler Bass introduces the phenomenon of the emergent church ; but, I am disappointed in the Kindle version's lack of hyperlink to the Table of Contents.
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