Church Planting in Post-Christian Soil: Theology and Practice

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Oxford University Press, 2018 - Religion - 355 pages
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National headlines regularly herald the decline of Christianity in the United States, citing historically low levels of confidence in organized religion, drops in church attendance, church closures, and the dramatic rise of the "Nones." Scarcely heard are stories from the thousands of new churches and new forms of church that are springing up each year across the country. In this book, Christopher James attends carefully to stories of ecclesial innovation taking place in Seattle, Washington-a city on the leading edge of trends shaping the nation as a whole. James's study of the new churches founded in this "post-Christian" city offers both theological reflection and pragmatic advice. After an in-depth survey- and -interview-based analysis of the different models of church-planting he encountered, James identifies five threads of practical wisdom: 1) embracing local identity and mission, 2) cultivating embodied, experiential, everyday spirituality, 3) engaging community life as means of witness and formation, 4) prioritizing hospitality as a cornerstone practice, and 5) discovering ecclesial vitality in a diverse ecclesial ecology. Stimulating, encouraging, and stereotype-shattering, this book invites readers to reconsider the narrative that portrays these first decades of the twenty-first century as a period of ecclesial death and decline, and to view our time instead as a hope-filled season of ecclesial renewal and rebirth.
 

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Contents

Looking for the Future of Church in the None Zone
1
Seattle as a FutureTrending Context
13
2 Surveying the Field
31
3 Modeling Church
64
4 Models of Practical Ecclesiology Among New Seattle Churches
85
5 Missional Theological Assessment
138
6 Renewing Practice in the Models
184
7 Practical Wisdom from the Frontier of Faith
207
Research Methodology
243
New Seattle Churches Survey
249
Interview Guide for Pastors
257
Notes
259
Selected Bibliography
323
Index
339
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About the author (2018)


Christopher B. James is Assistant Professor of Evangelism and Missional Christianity at the University of Dubuque Theological Seminary, where he also directs the Master of Arts in Mission and Discipleship.

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