The Practicing Congregation: Imagining A New Old Church

I’m embarrassed that it took me as long as it did to finish this book.  Too many other things going on!  It really is a quick and effective read.

The Practicing Congregation

The Practicing Congregation: Imagining A New Old Church
by Diana Butler Bass
{available on Amazon here}

Diana Butler Bass wrote this for the Alban Institute in 2004, so it’s not new, but it’s still very relevant to the church world we are living in today.  She talks about breaking traditional molds and labels of liberal vs. conservative in the mainline church and moving into a model of understanding churches as established and intentional, giving them more freedom to be creative and – well – practicing congregations.

I don’t want to be part of a church that is just going through the motions.  I want to be part of a church that living the resurrection of Christ every single day.

Here are some snippets!


“All congregations bear tradition.  But practicing congregations both bear traditions and transform them at the same time – they are reflexive communities.” (53)

“In the simulation, mainline congregations that were intentional about Christian practices showed a marked increase in both vitality and numerical growth – nearly catching up to vitality and growth rates in evangelical Protestant congregations.” (67)

“In every generation of Christian history, faithful congregations have selected and reshaped tradition, developing patterns that reflect transcendent realities in ways that speak to the surrounding culture.” (95)

“Imagine, for a moment, a new story about mainline Protestantism.  What if the story wasn’t about decline, division, and spiritual dismay?  What is the story was about imaginative congregations reaching back to their native stories, drawing out practices known to their ancestors, and finding new ways of being faithful in a fragmented, detraditionalized world?” (102)

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