Divergent Church

The Bright Promise of Alternative Faith Communities

By Tim Shapiro, Kara Faris Published
Paperback image ISBN: 9781501842597 $16.99 Buy
eBook image ISBN: 9781501842603 $16.99 Buy
Innovative Christians - engaging in time-honored practices - are creating new types of communities.

New faith communities are appearing across the U.S.. Many of them bear little resemblance—on the surface—to ‘church’ in its conventional form. But when we look a little deeper we see striking continuity with the most deeply rooted practices of the Christian faith in community.

What are those practices? What do these unconventional, alternative faith communities look like? How are they, perhaps, indicators of a hopeful new future for the church? And what can we learn from them?

Authors Kara Brinkerhoff and Tim Shapiro spent more than a year researching and exploring these questions, closely examining the life of a dozen alternative faith communities across the country. They include new monastic communities, food-oriented communities, affinity group communities, house churches, hybrid churches and others. They are creative, ingenious, innovative, clever, dynamic and transformative. But they represent human expressions of activities that have always been part of human religious congregations: hospitality, learning, storytelling, care, leadership, worship and honoring place.


This fascinating book goes beyond simply analyzing current trends. It reveals how innovative Christians are engaging in time-honored practices, creating new types of communities, which will shape the church to come. Further, it shows us how we too might innovate while holding true to the essential practices of our gathered faith. This is an instructive picture of Christian community, past, present and future.


Endorsements

“A beautiful and hopeful book about vitality in American faith communities that may not always look like faith communities.”

—Verity A. Jones, founder, New Media Project

 

“A deep and sustained conversation with innovative leaders who are planting new forms of church across varied contexts—beyond program and activity to the heart of spiritual practices.”

Kenneth H. Carter, Resident Bishop, Florida Area, The United Methodist Church; coauthor, Fresh Expressions: A New Kind of Methodist Church for People Not in Church (Abingdon Press)


 

“Feel the Holy Spirit breaking you free to do a new, old thing, because as you’ll soon read, if nobody is showing up to your party, then it’s time to throw a better party!

—Donna Claycomb Sokol, Pastor, Mount Vernon Place United Methodist Church, Washington, DC; coauthor, A New Day in the City: Urban Church Revival (Abingdon Press)


 

About the Authors

Tim Shapiro

Tim Shapiro is President of the Center for Congregations in Indianapolis. He previously served Presbyterian churches in Indiana and Ohio.  He studied family systems theory under Edwin Friedman.

Kara Faris

Kara Faris is the resource grants director at the Center for Congregations, as well as a resource consultant to congregations.  She previously served for eight years as the Center's education director.
Before working at the Center, Kara served First Friends Meeting of Indianapolis as associate pastor.  With a degree in marketing from Butler University's College of Business Administration and a master of divinity degree from Christian Theological Seminary, Kara brings a blend of pragmatism, intuition and passion for lifelong learning to the Center.