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Reinventing American Protestantism: Christianity in the New Millennium Paperback – October 25, 1999
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From Library Journal
Miller (religion, Univ. of Southern California) analyses what he calls "new paradigm churches." He bases his well-researched work on three churches that got their start in Southern California: Calvary Chapel, Vineyard Christian Fellowship, and Hope Chapel. Unlike more mainline evangelical churches that they resemble, these groups appeal primarily to young, middle-class families. Offering a unique blend of contemporary culture and life-transforming spirituality, they are growing rapidly as mainline churches decline. These groups are contemporary and casual in style, have very little doctrine or hierarchy, and seem to make great use of lay members in many aspects of ministry. Miller sees these churches as embodying no less than a new Protestant Reformation, with the common people reclaiming religion from the elite clergy, and he makes an interesting case for his assertion. An excellent book with some new insights; recommended for public and academic libraries.?C. Robert Nixon, M.L.S., Lafayette, Ind.
Copyright 1997 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
From Kirkus Reviews
One of the most engaging, insightful discussions yet of American Protestantism's recent trend toward ``postdenominational'' churches. Miller (Religion/Univ. of Southern Calif.) uses his sociology training to contextualize a phenomenon that scholars have too breezily dismissed: Americans are leaving the mainline churches in droves, and many are finding spiritual homes in what Miller calls ``new paradigm'' churches that often rent space in shopping malls and warehouses because they have no facilities of their own. These churches, like the Vineyard Christian Fellowship, Calvary Chapel, and Hope Chapel, emphasize a common evangelical theology. But they have resisted incorporation into denominations, reflecting their baby-boomer leaders' distrust of established institutions. Dress is casual, ministers are often untrained, and adherents are encouraged to take an active role in congregational growth. Miller maintains that the burst of new paradigm churches represents nothing less than a second Protestant Reformation; these churches are abandoning the staid cultural forms of traditional Protestantism (organs, choirs, and vestments) in favor of newer ones that young people find culturally relevant (guitars, small support groups, and beach baptisms). New paradigm churches have reinvigorated Luther's ``priesthood of all believers'' with their stress on lay-led Bible studies and healing circles. One reason Miller's study works so well is that he takes these new rituals seriously and claims that they fill a very real spiritual need. In particular, where traditional Protestantism has emphasized the rational at the expense of the experiential, new paradigm churches fill this void through physical healings and deeply felt personal conversions. This elegant book offers something for everyone: Scholars will appreciate Miller's well-conceived sociological positioning of this phenomenon (with particular nods to William James and Robert Bellah), and other folks will value the compelling personal testimonies. -- Copyright ©1997, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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For two in-depth case studies of a new paradigm church, see Gerardo Marti's A Mosaic of Believers: Diversity and Innovation in a Multiethnic Church and also his book Hollywood Faith: Holiness, Prosperity, and Ambition in a Los Angeles Church.
In his introduction and first chapel, he notes how the mainline denominations in America have been in decline for several decades, while more conservative movements, like those of the Pentecostal and charismatic persuasion have been growing. This contradicted earlier theories of religion in sociological circles who contended that the theological liberal churches would survive in an increasingly liberal secular culture.
Miller, instead, has endorsed a "religious markets" view. Borrowing from free markets economic theories (which, in turn, are based on rational thought theories), Miller contends that many conservative churches have done a better job of marketing and delivering their product (the gospel) and do a better job of maintaining customer loyalty (membership, attendees). These movements have flatter, more postmodern organizational structures that allows quick development of leaders and high involvement of "laity."