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Beyond Conventional Church Wisdom

Reflections of a Contrarian: Second Thoughts on the Parish Ministry by Lyle E. Schaller, Abingdon, $10.95

Reviewed by Dave Wilkinson, pastor, Moorpark Presbyterian Church, Moorpark, California

CW. Conventional wisdom. There is CW in politics. There is CW in the church. And there is Lyle Schaller, parish consultant with the Yokefellow Institute, who aims his well-honed lance at church CW. Take, for example, his Reflections of a Contrarian, where he puts his finger on twelve key issues facing the modern parish.

In Chapter 1, "Is There a Price Tag on Diversity?" for instance, he challenges the belief that a local parish can or should represent a cross section of the American population-CW in many church quarters. Perhaps, says Schaller, but at the cost of interpersonal relationships. Churches with great social diversity, like many independent, charismatic churches, usually unite around shared religious experiences. But that very social variety inhibits congregational ...

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