Christianity for the rest of us

Christianity for the Rest of Us: How the Neighborhood Church is Transforming the Faith by Diana Butler Bass (HarperOne, 2006).

This is an excellent book for a small audience: members of traditional Protestant denominations in the United States – the Lutherans, Methodists, Episcopalians, Congregationalists and Presbyterians. The fact that it is a small audience, and how to make it bigger, is the point of the book. In recent decades Christianity in the United States has become almost synonymous with the evangelical, fundamentalist brand of Christian that fills the center of the country and votes Republican. The traditional denominations, where people are more concerned with being welcoming than being born again, have suffered steep declines in membership. Christian historian Bass visited congregations all over the country which were growing, to find out what they were doing right. She found a number of common practices among them, which she calls the ten signposts of renewal: hospitality, discernment, healing, contemplation, testimony, diversity, justice, worship, reflection, and beauty.  These churches retained their welcoming attitude and appreciation of diversity, but distinguished themselves from secular liberal organizations by re-emphasizing the spiritual dimensions of Christianity.

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