Mega-church trend ending?

4/17/2007

Christianity for the Rest of Us

by Diana Butler Bass

 

Diana Butler Bass, through extensive study of main-line churches, gives encouragement and shares wisdom with us: Many mainline churches are flourishing and are doing so without mimicking megachurch, evangelical style.

 

At the outset, she describes the village of her childhood — the Hamilton neighborhood in Baltimore — that has totally changed, losing the qualities that bound it together. Pondering these drastic changes, she describes what the new village will look like and how the "new village church" will be inviting and effective and faithful. 

 

She learned, and she teaches us, that tradition, practice and wisdom compose the Christian way of life: Tradition connects us to our past, practice calls us to doing in the present, and wisdom pushes us toward a future of eternal love. These, she suggests, are the architecture of the new village church.   

 

The flourishing churches that she visited and studied — United Methodist, Episcopal, Lutheran, Presbyterian, Disciples of Christ, United Church of Christ — embraced and demonstrated certain consistent practices:

 

Hospitality

Discernment

Healing

Contemplation

Testimony

Diversity

Justice

Worship

Reflection

Beauty.

 

Everywhere, in God's thriving churches, we see the spiritual triad: Connection to tradition, commitment to Christian practices, and concern to live God's dream. These things offer the possibility of change, of communities that live change, and the transformation that is the promise of the Christian life. 

 

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