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The Practicing Congregation: Imagining a New Old Church

3.88  ·  Rating details ·  108 ratings  ·  9 reviews
The conventional wisdom about mainline Protestantism maintains that it is a dying tradition, irrelevant to a postmodern society, unresponsive to change, and increasingly disconnected from its core faith tenets. In her provocative new book, historian and researcher Diana Butler Bass argues that there are signs that mainline Protestant churches are indeed changing, finding a ...more
Paperback, 128 pages
Published September 1st 2004 by Rowman & Littlefield Publishers
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Mar 31, 2018 rated it liked it
A book of encouragement and vision for the church startling the past and the future
M Christopher
Aug 29, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: ministerial
Before "Christianity for the Rest of Us," "A People's History of Christianity," and "Christianity After Religion" catapulted her into (relative) stardom among Mainline Protestants, Diana Butler Bass wrote this fine book for the Alban Institute based on her researches. At it's publication in 2004, her primary message was one of cautious hope: "Mainline" churches weren't dying. In fact, many of them were very healthy indeed.

It is a word that still needs to be heard. Popular news organs continue to
Jun 08, 2012 rated it really liked it
An interesting book that tries to draw the reader past oversimplified labels, media reports, etc. to see what's happening in churches all across the country; ones that don't get media attention. The author's main thesis is that mainline Protestant churches are not in "decline" but are experiencing new vitality by rediscovering and redeeming ancient spirituality and a focus on practice. As she says at the beginning, this book is not a "how to," prescriptive book for churches or becoming a "practi ...more
Aug 08, 2012 rated it liked it
As frequently happens with Alban Institute-published books, a fair amount of translation has to be done by me in the reading. This is because of the focus on Christianity and Christian religious groups, and my need to determine what the appropriate analogues are in Unitarian Universalist experience. Here, there are several points of congruence. I can certainly understand the pull of tradition vs. custom in UU terms, as well as the importance of practice (which is the thematic focus of my congreg ...more
John Compton
Feb 05, 2014 rated it liked it
A helpful articulation of the vision of the church coming from somebody on the left side of the theological world. As an outsider who is now in the mainline I found this very helpful in understanding my surroundings. I really appreciated her view of rising above the left/right divide by having churches move from "institutions" to practicing congregations.

Dec 22, 2013 rated it liked it
I found the types of traditionalism helpful in understanding my congregation and their motivation behind actions.
Jul 28, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Recommended to Dorothy by: Matt Heyd
Shelves: discernment
excellent for anyone thinking about churches today and how they can find a new/old ways to revitalize them. Made a lot of sense and has good portraits of current churches.
Doug Browne
Feb 11, 2013 rated it it was amazing
What if we don't accept the conventional wisdom of decline? What is we tell a different story? ...more
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If you are interested in reviving your congregation, this is ONE book to read!
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Diana Butler Bass is an author, speaker, and independent scholar specializing in American religion and culture. She holds a PhD in religious studies from Duke University and is the author of seven books, including the bestselling Christianity for the Rest of Us, released by HarperOne in 2006. It was named as one of the best religion books of the year by Publishers Weekly and Christian Century, won ...more

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