Shifts in Young Adult Protestantism

The graph at right illustrates the shifts in young adult (ages 23-35) Protestant affiliation between 1972 and 2010 as compiled by Lifeway Research using data from the General Social Survey.  Overall, during the "last 30 years, mainline protestantism is dying, black protestantism is steady, and evangelicalism is growing."  More specifically, among young adults: Mainline Protestantism declined dramatically: identification dropped from 24% to 6% while worship attendance was cut in half moving Read More …

Statement on Ministry

Tiger population has declined by 90% over the last 50 years; those involved in creating a brighter future for tigers understand that extinction will be reality if significant changes are not implemented soon.  The role of religion in America has changed dramatically and the size of mainline/progressive Protestantism has declined dramatically over the last 50 years; those involved in leading United Church of Christ communities today must be open to innovation and experimentation in order to Read More …

Spong on Seminaries

John Shelby Spong served as bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Newark for 24 years before his retirement in 2001.  In retirement, he has been a prolific writer and speaker.   After teaching a weeklong intensive course at the Pacific School of Theology, he reflected on how that school has changed to more effectively meet the demands of preparing people for ministry in the early twenty-first century.  He is hopeful that this institution's current intentions will serve its students well and may Read More …

Bible Belt Too Tight?

Peace Congregational Church (United Church of Christ) in Clemson, SC is a new church with a creative marketing campaign designed to share the congregation's progressive form of Christianity, including their extravagant and inclusive welcoming mentality, with their community.  The effort includes "a series of 10 catchy, thought-provoking posters lifting up the church’s commitment to re-imagine faith, justice and mission." So What? The United Church of Christ's decade old Still Speaking Read More …

Are You An In Between Christian?

In a recent blog post, Rachel Held Evans included a bit of self-disclosure that warrants consideration by all who seek to lead the church into the future.  After mentioning the recent article by Ross Douthat and response by Diana Butler Bass (something I have written about recently as well), she shares the disheartening reality that many with differing theological perspectives choose to attack the other's position rather than collaborate to craft a brighter future for the church. Notably, she Read More …

Can Christianity Be Saved?

As I read Ross Douthat's latest  New York Times editorial, "Can Liberal Christianity Be Saved?," I knew I had to respond.  In short, he suggests that the end could well be near for progressive or liberal Christianity unless something changes rather significantly as a result of decades of decline.  While not proposing that other forms of Christianity have all fared well, he suggests that they have by way of comparison to progressive denominations. (For more on Douthat's perspective, read my Read More …

Progressive – The Best Word?

The Pew Research Center for People & the Press released the results of their recent poll of American's views of political terms.  The term with the most favorable view is progressive.  Interestingly, it rates about 33% higher than the term liberal. So What? Many people characterize mainline churches as theologically liberal.  Do you think congregations and denominations should move beyond that label and claim the more culturally valued term progressive to describe themselves? Why or why Read More …

5 Smooth Stones of Liberal Religion

Unitarian Universalist minister James Luther Adams proposed five smooth stones of liberal religion in an essay entitled "Guiding Principles for a Free Faith," which was published in On Being Human Religiously: Selected Essays in Religion and Society (Max Stackhouse, ed. Beacon Press, 1976, pp. 12—20).  R. Lloyd Ryan summarizes JLA's smooth stones: Revelation is continuous. Relationships ought to rest on mutual and free consent. We need to work together for  just and loving Read More …

The Women Preached it First

The United Church of Christ‘s Still Speaking Campaign is the most well-known marketing campaign undertaken by a mainline denomination in recent years.  The campaign started in 2004 with television ads, which can be viewed here.   In April 2010, the campaign moved online with an ad designed to spread via social media called The Language of God (read my thoughts) and continued with Uniquely UCC (read my thoughts).  For Easter, the new ad, The Women Preached It First, is an Easter greeting set to Read More …

Review of Speaking Christian

Meet the Author Marcus Borg is Canon Theologian at Trinity Episcopal Cathedral in Portland, Oregon.  He is also professor emeritus in the philosophy department at Oregon State University, where  he was the Hundere Chair in Religion until his retirement in 2007.  Borg is among the most widely known and influential voices in progressive Christianity.  He is best known for his work as a fellow in the Jesus Seminar, his biblical scholarship, and as the author of twenty books.  His most recent Read More …