Divergent Church

The Bright Promise of Alternative Faith Communities

Book - Paperback
Divergent Church
Paperback ISBN: 9781501842597
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E-Book ISBN: 9781501842603
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Published October 2017

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.

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.