A Church Beyond Belief

The Search for Belonging and the Religious Future

William L. Sachs, Michael S. Bos

Oct/2014, 192 Pages, Paperback, 6 x 9

ISBN-13: 9780819228994



Addresses “belonging before believing” and other new patterns for remaking congregations

As we move beyond the “emergent” or “missional” church paradigm, pastors and other church leaders are discovering a new reality: people (especially younger generations) are coming to church not as believers, but to find a place to belong—with or without faith. This book describes the dilemma and the distractions that currently prevent congregations from being the place where that sense of belonging can unfold and guide newcomers in the discovery of faith.

The authors argue that despite elaborate talk of change, spirituality, transformation, and conflict resolution, congregations are still mired in old patterns of belonging. Using broad-based career experiences, surveys of religious life, historical precedent, and insights from social psychology about what it means to belong today, the book suggests new and effective approaches to help churches make vital connections.

William L. Sachs directs the Center for Interfaith Reconciliation at St. Stephen's Church, Richmond, Virginia, and has taught in various seminaries. Previously he was Vice President of The Episcopal Church Foundation in New York City.
Michael S. Bos is the Senior Minister at West End Collegiate Church in New York City and President of The Collegiate Churches of New York. He is Moderator of the Board of Trustees of New Brunswick Theological Seminary and formerly served as Executive and Teaching Pastor at one of America's mega-churches. He lives in New York, New York.

"Bos and Sachs have given us a book that is timely, thought-provoking, and utterly engaging. Never before have I seen belonging and belief so beautifully described. Anyone who wants the church to become a true spiritual community where all are welcomed and faith flourishes needs to read this." —The Rev. Canon C. K. Robertson, PhD, Canon to the Presiding Bishop Primate, The Episcopal Church

“This is a superb book; it takes the sociological data about spirituality, believing, and modern life and explores the challenges and opportunities this data provides for a congregation. Underpinned by considerable learning, this is accessible, perceptive, and fascinating. Get your vestry to read this book.”—Ian Markham, Dean President, Virginia Theological Seminary

“In the tradition of Robert Bellah’s Sheila and Sheilaism, Sachs and Bos here give us Ashley and Ashleyism. The result is an insightful, well-documented, and narratively presented portrait of today’s young adults and of the spiritual and religious longings that drive them. All of this is accompanied by sharp-eyed and experienced analyses of both the limitations and possibilities of the congregations presently available to the Ashleys among us.”—Phyllis Tickle, Author, The Great Emergence: How Christianity is Changing and Why

“This book speaks powerfully and imaginatively to our context and times. In an age when many describe themselves as ‘spiritual, but not religious’, Sachs and Bos offer us an accessible, wise and creative book that engages faithfully and richly with the cultures that Christians and congregations seek to reach and transform. Beautifully written, this is a well-crafted book that will enable all kinds of congregations to move forward more confidently with their ministries and outreach. I cannot commend it highly enough.”—Martyn PercyDean, Christ Church Oxford

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