Monday, 10 March 2008

Book Review: Why Liberal Churches Are Growing

Why Liberal Churches Are Growing
edited by Martyn Percy and Ian Markham
T & T Clark, 176 pp., $39.95 paperback

This volume of essays explores evangelistic growth where it is coupled with liberal or progressive theology. The strongest chapters outline new sociological data or paint panoramic views of discrete segments of the church. The editors' diagnostic reflections on the nature of liberal churches are wonderful.

Among the contributors, Benjamin Watts presents a fascinating look at social justice and church growth in current and historical African-American churches; Terasa Cooley gives us a statistical analysis of the overall growth in Unitarian Universalism; and Scott Thumma suggests that an "open and affirming" approach to gays has no correlation—positive or negative—with congregational growth. Adair Lummis reflects thoughtfully on aspects of theological congruence between pastor and congregation in liberal congregations, and David Roozen incisively analyzes pockets of vitality within old-line Protestantism. Martyn Percy uses James Hopewell's Congregation: Stories and Structures to discuss one diocese's "tragic" stories ... Read more
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