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Mainline to the Future: Congregations for the 21st Century
Westminster John Knox Press / 2000 / Paperback
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Mainline to the Future is a clearly written description of the patterns of the newly flourshing, post-traditional churches in America and an articulate suggestion of ways that maintain congregations can learn from and even adapt some of their practices. In our "unsettled time," Carroll finds prescription for change in the reforming tradition of the Protestant church itself. Far from shying away from "messing with" tradition he locates support for such action in the score of the gospel message and embodied in the life of Jesus Christ. Centering us on this core truth or value that is the source of faith (and not on change and tradition as inherently good or bad in themselves), Carroll steers readers to think about the "traditional Protestant"-"post-traditional congregation" conversation in terms of cultural accommodation and cultural resistance. This conversation may evoke possibilities for positive change in mainline congregations consistent with the spirit of tradition and the winds of change.
While others lament the declining attendance of mainline churches and blame it on an out-of-date tradition, Jackson Carroll offers a more hopeful perspective, arguing that they key to future vitality can be found in the same tradition. According to Carroll, the tension between tradition and change has always been part of the Protestant heritage, and he argues that now is a time when being faithful requires adaptation.
Jackson W. Carroll is Williams Professor Emeritus of Religion and Society at Duke Divinity School in Durham, North Carolina. Carroll is author, coauthor, or editor of fourteen books and numerous articles, and he has lectured widely, both in the United States and abroad.
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