Thursday, July 26, 2007

Christianity for the Rest of Us

Back in February I read a review of Diana Butler-Bass’ new book Christianity for the Rest of Us: How the Neighborhood Church is Transforming the Faith. So I picked up a copy.

I read it in ONE sitting.

And it totally rocked my ecclesiastical world. Butler-Bass details mainline churches who have bucked the trend toward decline and – gasp! – grew. But didn’t just grow in numbers, but experienced renewal.

I’ve always questioned the chicken-littles of the church world who proclaim the doom of mainline churches. It’s almost become an article of faith to believe that most churches are declining in membership, worship attendance, and mission.

Good Shepherd, the congregation I serve, is experiencing a bizarre trend: membership is UP. Worship attendance is DOWN. Not by much. But it’s noticeable and people are starting to comment on it.

BUT (and it’s a BIG BUT), ministry is happening here nonetheless. A lot of ministry. Some may say too much ministry for our small to moderate size congregation. And more ministries are in the works. We have more ideas than people. More inspiration than resources.

However, Good Shepherd can sit comfortably among the growing, dynamic churches that Butler-Bass profiles.

One thing I LOVED about the book was that these were no-name Christians. Not one Christian celeb in the bunch. Just your garden variety, everyday, Christians trying to follow Jesus the best way they know how. They may not have the big shiny new building. But they have healthy doses of prayer and a strong blast of the Holy Spirit.

In other words, God isn’t done with mainline churches just yet.

UPDATE: Revised for silly typos and bad grammar.

UPDATE 2: Sara shares her thoughts on the book.

No comments: