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Why Liberal Churches are Growing by Ian S. Markham, Very Revd Prof. Martyn Percy


Why Liberal Churches are Growing by Ian S. Markham, Very Revd Prof. Martyn Percy

This book examines why liberal churches remain appealing, where they are growing and why liberal theological approaches to ministry are more widespread than many assume to be the case. Why Liberal Churches are Growing is a fascinating journey through different case studies, social science reflection, and theological analysis. The contributors include sociologists, theologians, and practical theologians. The book has four sections. The first, 'defining themes', looks at the social justice witness (community organizing), church growth as conversational, and the challenge of turning liberal churches around. The book then looks at three case studies - starting with congregations and moving to a denomination. Under the heading 'macro issues', it explores in more detail the underlying disposition of liberal churches and revisits such themes as social justice, homosexuality, and alternative indicators of vitality. The book concludes with three essays on 'clergy and growth'.


Percy and Marham's book provides, through its thirteen chapters and as many different authors, a rich resource of illuminating case studies, sociological analyses and practical theological reflections covering a very wide range of approaches and contexts from the United Kingdom and the United States. It is a must for those engaged in ministeral education, and there are few practising clergy who will not find within its covers useful insights and real encouragement for their ministry. Reviewed by Jeff Astley in Rural Theology, 2007 Pete Ward's chapter on youth work is particularly resonate. He builds a convincing case that a commitment to building long-term relationships with young people and to encouraging them to develop as Christian leaders transformed the charismatic/evangelical movement within the Church of England from a small, somewhat ineffectual group in the 1930s into the thriving section of the church that it is today...Liberal congregations can flourish. They can grow in authentic, healthy ways. Mainline/liberal Christians bear an open, deeply spiritual faith that is passionately concerned with justice and vibrantly alive. If we take up Ward's challenge make the nurture of youth and the development of young leaders our priority, we can reserve what Roozen calls a continuing stream of decline, and the light of the open, just, living gospel of Christ will blaze into the future. Martha Grace Reese, Christian Century, March 11, 2008--Sanford Lakoff

About the Author

Ian Markham is Dean of Hartford Seminary, Connecticut, USA Martyn Percy is Principal, Ripon College, Cuddesdon, UK.

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Book Info

Publication date

23rd March 2006


Ian S. Markham, Very Revd Prof. Martyn Percy

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T.& T.Clark Ltd an imprint of Bloomsbury Publishing PLC


176 pages


Christian theology



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