The Latino and Asian churches have exceptional vitality, but are often (not always) caught in the immigrants' dilemmas: where is the line that separates our ethnic identity from our faith identity, and what will happen as future generations assimilate more comfortably into mainstream American culture? And mainline Protestant churches are—perhaps for the reasons Evangelicals claim, but I think for other reasons—aging and dying (or wrinkling and shrinking, as they sometimes say). Spreadsheets tell them that their future must be different from their past and present.

All that's to say that the right kind of Progressive Christian movement could welcome thousands and thousands of Christians who don't want to contract into more rigid conservatism, live in nostalgia, play the Prosperity Gospel game, keep sinking institutional ships afloat, and so on. But that will only happen if Progressive Christians can make it clear they aren't simply yesterday's warmed-over liberal Christians with a new label.

Perhaps the most promising possibility lies with the thousands of SBNRs (spiritual but not religious) who are waiting for something very much like Progressive Christianity to emerge and get down to business. By "business," I mean the sacred endeavor of loving God and neighbor, stranger, alien, outsider, outcast, and enemy. I mean the work of healing our broken world, the vocation of doing justice, loving kindness, and walking humbly with God. I mean the spiritual work of forming Christ-like people, and the social enterprise of seeking the common good, beginning with the last, the least, and the lost. Moving forward, little by little, in the robust organic process of God's will being done on earth as it is in heaven—that's the progress that Progressive Christianity is about.

Related articles by or about Brian McLaren at Patheos:

"Naked Spirituality and The Other Jesus: A Conversation between Brian McLaren and Greg Garrett"

  1. "A New Kind of Christianity: An Interview with Brian McLaren"
  2. "Why Liberal is Not a Bad Word"
  3. "Brian McLaren Addresses the Mainline"
  4. "A New Christian Convergence"