The Mainliner's Survival Guide to the Post-Denominational World considers how the declining church should live into the hope of its legacy by living out the Gospel's radical nature with reckless abandon. In a world where the fastest growing religious self-designation among emerging generations is "none," the hope of the church may lie in worrying less about the survival of the church and aiming more toward living like Jesus.
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About the Author
Derek has a Ph.D. in humanities from the University of Louisville, and is the author of articles ranging from church history to aesthetic theory and the tragic emotions. He is also the author of The Mainliner's Survival Guide to the Post-Denominational World, from Chalice Press, about how mainline denominations can avoid despair in an uncertain world. His newest book, Outlandish: An Unlikely Messiah, a Messy Ministry, and the Call to Mobilize (Chalice Press, 2019), focuses on understanding the political nature of Jesus' life, death, and resurrection as a model for forming communities of resistance capable of challenging oppression in the pursuit of peace and justice.
He is an activist and advocate on local, state, and national levels on issues of racial justice, LGBTQ fairness, interfaith engagement, and immigrant and refugee rights.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
For years denominations have been losing members. Really the Christian church in North America has been losing members: denominations and non-denominational congregations, liberal and conservative, evangelical and mainline. Many authorities viewing the statistics predict the end of denominations, if not the Christian church. Sitting in on a discussion in some Christian circles is similar to listening to Chicken Little exclaim that the sky is falling; rather pessimistic. Penwell doesn’t repeat these dire predictions. Instead he is upbeat and writes that this could be a very positive time for the proclamation of the gospel. Penwell compares today to the years following the Revolutionary War. He points out that after the war very few people adhered to any brand of Christian belief. Having just won a war from England, most people were rather anti-establishment and anti-institution. They rebelled against the authority and teachings of the church. The stress on personal freedom and the idea of endless opportunities proved to be fertile ground, though, for a Christian revival—the Second Great Awakening. In the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries, the church was forced to adopt different styles of ministry in order to reach the population. Circuit riders and camp meetings were two of the adaptations that were successful. The church today also needs to adapt its ministry and message in order to effectively communicate the gospel to the younger generations. Penwell’s message is one of hope, but the church must be willing to embrace change. I agreed with a majority of the author’s points. I found many of his thoughts affirming of what the congregation I serve is doing, and our results confirm Penwell’s premises. His book is also challenging. Several of Penwell’s suggestions will be met with shock and fear by a strong percentage of the church. I heartily recommend this book to anyone who is involved in the leadership of a congregation—ordained or lay. At the very least, it is a thought provoker.