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.
—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)
“For clergy, lay leaders, seminaries, and denominational leaders who understand that in order to expand the missional footprint of the church, we must learn from and engage with those who are crafting spiritual life and community outside the traditional congregational model. The stories of these communities, and the interviews of their leaders, offer enormous promise for fulfilling the mission of the church.”
—Melvin Amerson, Resource Specialist, Texas Methodist Foundation