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. Butler Bass 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 she 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 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.WHY?
A couple of us decided to talk about religion from an ecumenical or interfaith perspective. We picked this book, partly because it includes chapters on ten spiritual practices (hospitality, discernment, healing, contemplation, testimony, diversity, justice, worship, reflection, and beauty). I'll post qustions — for each section of the book — as we read. Clicking on the discussion links will take you to the appropriate set of questions. This is not a class, so you don't have to answer all the questions, but do put your comment under the question(s) you are discussing.
Comments are open to anyone, but are moderated. So please keep your remarks positive. If your comment is rude, hateful, bullying, or condescending, it won't get posted. If it is critical, please make it constructive. The definition of terms ("rude, hateful, bullying, or condescending") is left solely up to the moderator.
Video on "Religiously Unaffiliated"
Overview of labyrinths for Book Buddies
Labyrinth at Thankful Memorial Episcopal Church
Labyrinth at St. Paul Episcopal Church
Labyrinth at Burks United Methodist Church
Labyrinth at St. Francis of Assissi Episcopal Church
End-of-discussion party on Essencia Island
PART I – What Happened to the Neighborhood Church?
1. The Vanished Village
2. Remembering Christianity
3. The New Village Church
4. Finding Home
PART II – Ten Signposts of Renewal
PART III – From Tourists to Pilgrims
15. Transforming Lives
16. Transforming Congregations
17. Transforming the World
Epilogue ~ Home Again