- Paperback: 336 pages
- Publisher: HarperOne; Reprint edition (October 2, 2007)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0060859490
- ISBN-13: 978-0060859497
- Product Dimensions: 5.3 x 0.8 x 8 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 76 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #125,444 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Christianity for the Rest of Us: How the Neighborhood Church Is Transforming the Faith Paperback – October 2, 2007
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“This excellent and timely book celebrates a vastly important phenomenon that has been too little noticed.” (Rowan Williams, Archbishop of Canterbury)
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.
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Sincerely, Pastor Phil Clark, St. John's Lutheran Church, Rincon, GA
"Christianity for the Rest of Us" is the result of a three year study of emerging mainline churches in the United States. If you are like me, then you probably need "mainline" defined for you. Mainline churches are the "brand-name" churches you see across the country - Methodists, Presbyterians, Lutherans, Congregationalists, and Episcopalians. These churches are often more liberal and progressive than their evangelical counterparts (although they may not like these labels). These churches have also been perceived (with some reality behind the perception) to be declining while more conservative and evangelical churches have been growing. The purpose of Bass' study was to visit and explore growing and vital moderate-to-liberal mainline churches. The study included 50 participating congregations but focused on ten.
These churches are filled with people who do not fit into the new evangelical Christian majority in the United States. They are desiring to know God and follow Jesus in our world but are not interested in embracing the evangelical culture of political and religious conservatism and/or fundamentalism. On the other hand, these churches are also not interested in the largely secular religion indicative of many declining mainline churches. For the most part, these churches include a diverse group of people from all ideologies and backgrounds - including some conservatives.
In some ways, this was actually a strange book for me to read. I am not part of a mainline church (or any institutional church for that matter). I have never even attended a mainline church. I know very few people who attend mainline churches. And I grew up in very conservative evangelical churches, in which mainline churches were largely discredited. Yet it is because of all of these statements that I felt the need and desire to read this book. I wanted to see what God is doing in an area I am very unfamiliar with. And in short, I was very excited about what I read - God is certainly doing a lot.
Throughout reading this book, I was struck by how well it complements Gibbs' and Bolger's "Emerging Churches." Whereas "Emerging Churches" focuses on a new breed of churches that have largely come out of the evangelical movement, "Christianity for the Rest of Us" looks at a new type of church coming from the old mainline of Christianity. What is so interesting is that these stories overlap in so many ways! "Emerging Churches" deals with a reaction against the sometimes dead religion that results from fundamental evangelicalism and "Christianity for the Rest of Us" looks at how churches are emerging from the liberal secularism found in some mainline religion. However, both of these "emerging churches" are heading in the same direction. They are both looking to follow Jesus without the trappings of the liberal/conservative divide, apart from the modern focus on reasoned certainty or skepticism, and in a way that is relevant to a new post-Christian culture. Many of the findings of these books are very similar. They even identify some very similar traits in the churches they studied. Is this really one movement of Christians that is being observed? Just in different environments and from different backgrounds? At least in some ways, I think so.
In short, I find all of this very intriguing and encouraging. God is working in a lot of different places. This is good news. God is not confined to any particular "movement" or perspective. He is busy using people to transform others and to influence the world. All are welcome to play a part.