Book Review: Christianity for the Rest of Us

Christianity for the Rest of Us: How the Neighborhood Church is Transforming the Faith

By Diana Butler Bass (reviewed by Peter DeHaan)

Diana Butler Bass opens her book, Christianity for the Rest of Us: How the Neighborhood Church is Transforming the Faith, by admitting that mainline (that is, liberal) Protestantism is in trouble, with declining attendance and a loss of significance. This is not a hopeless situation, however, as there are signs of revitalization at some mainline churches with energized growth and renewed relevance, focusing on tradition (not traditionalism), practice (not purity), and wisdom (not certainty).

Looking at selected mainline congregations that exhibit this emergence, she shares ten signposts of renewal: hospitality, discernment, healing, contemplation, testimony, diversity, justice, worship, reflection, and beauty. In doing so, these churches are on a path of transforming lives, transforming congregations, and transforming the world.

She does this with a compelling narrative of her pilgrimage to find the emerging mainline, connecting the church’s story with her own and sharing Mainline’s emergent journey with her own travels. The conclusion is clear: Mainline churches need not continue their downward slide, they can experience rebirth. This book shows how it can happen and what it will look like.

[Christianity for the Rest of Us: How the Neighborhood Church Is Transforming the Faith, by Diana Butler Bass. Published by HarperOne, 2007; ISBN: 978-0060859497; 336 pages.]

Read more book reviews by Peter DeHaan.