In this excerpt from the introduction to their new book, Tim Shapiro and Kara Faris say that congregations aren’t going away, and neither is congregating. Creative, alternative faith communities are finding new ways to connect to the Divine.
New forms of church
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Across the country, creative, alternative congregations are doing church in unconventional ways, the co-author of ‘Divergent Church’ says in this interview. They may look different, but they are deeply rooted in tried-and-true practices of the faith.
The Pres House Apartments provide student housing and generate funds to support Presbyterian campus ministry at UW-Madison. Photos by Kim Isely
A combination church, campus ministry and seven-story apartment building, Pres House is a bustling hub of activity, a “home away from home” for students at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.
The centerpiece of Simple Church, a United Methodist congregation, is a Thursday night dinner when 30 to 40 share the Lord's Supper. Photos courtesy of Simple Church
Congregants gather for a sacred weekly meal where the conversation serves as the sermon and freshly baked bread provides nourishment, communion and income. Other churches are using their template to replicate the experience.
The Abundant Harvest food truck is one of the many parts of St. Isidore Episcopal Church and its "offensively generous" approach to ministry. Photos courtesy of St. Isidore Episcopal Church
One body with many parts, a Houston “church without walls” brings together house churches, a food truck, pub theology, a laundry ministry and more. Its priest isn’t trying to do something old in a new way – he’s trying to do something brand-new in the old way.
Layperson Muriel Dufendach, left, shares a laugh with the Rev. Carol Walton after a service at St. Timothy's Episcopal Church in Henderson, Nevada. Dufendach carries out some traditionally priestly functions, such as presiding at the weekday Eucharist. Photo by Ronda Churchill
Although church leaders often worry that switching from full-time to part-time clergy will lead to decline, congregations across the country are finding new vitality by reimagining the roles of clergy and laypeople.
Via their avatars, children and teens gather for worship in the sanctuary of The Robloxian Christians.
Founded and pastored by a Tacoma teenager, The Robloxian Christians is a real -- albeit virtual -- church where young people gather to worship, pray and connect. And it has important lessons for those who lead traditional churches and church-related institutions.
Many congregations dream of being places of radical welcome, but that vision is not sustainable through tithing alone. It’s time to think differently about how to accomplish such work, writes the executive director of Leadership Education at Duke Divinity.
The Rev. Dr. Michael Bell looks out the window of the Wilson Renaissance Complex, a downtown building that has been renovated by the nonprofit arm of Bell's congregation, St. John AME Zion Church. Photo by Alex Maness
An enterprising leader of St. John AME Zion Church pushed his congregation to revive its dormant nonprofit and undertake an ambitious plan to buy and improve seven properties in a historically African-American area of Wilson, North Carolina.
Members of Austin's Vox Veniae greet one another before Sunday services, called simply "Liturgy @ Vox." Photos by Brian Diggs
In Austin, Texas, Vox Veniae church pulses with the city’s young, creative vibe, even as it grapples with complex issues of identity, ethnicity and culture.