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Is there such a thing as a liberal evangelical Christian church?

post #1 of 22
Thread Starter 
I think I posted about trying to find a good church maybe two years ago...we never did find the perfect church, but we did find an all right one. We have since moved to a different state and have to kind of start from scratch.

I have visited four churches so far and already growing weary of this whole church shopping business. I don't know, maybe I just don't fit in anywhere, but if anyone could recommend a denomination that would be awesome.

See I don't know if this is possible but I want...

a) the PASSION of an evangelical church. Those who have been to the right kind of evangelical church will know what I mean - the electric guitars, the people with their hands in the air and their eyes closed, very friendly and just passionate. Close-knit small groups and that sort of thing...

BUT...

b) I don't want the kind of preaching I got today. I don't believe homosexuality is necessarily a sin, I don't want to hear about hell because I'm pretty much a universalist, and I don't want to hear about the "moral decay" and "cult of tolerance" creeping into the church. And I definitely do NOT want to hear that I need to obey my husband (I pretty much do but I don't think I "need" to per my religion) and spank my kid.

I guess I want the theology of a methodist church. And by that I don't mean the specific things methodists believe, but more the "quadrilateral" concept (Scripture, tradition, reason, and experience rather than sola scriptura) and the whole "live and let live" attitude where people can believe different things and still have fellowship.

Is it possible to have those two things together in a Christian church??

ETA: young earth creationism is another big no-no for me. I have rejected churches automatically just for finding young-earth books in their library
post #2 of 22
A lot of mainline evangelical Protestant churches are pretty liberal-- ELCA, Methodist, PCUSA. You can find their position statements on their website. It's hit or miss how active they are, but the biger the church, the more they have going on. Unless by evangelical you mean non-denominational?
post #3 of 22
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by annettemarie View Post
A lot of mainline evangelical Protestant churches are pretty liberal-- ELCA, Methodist, PCUSA. You can find their position statements on their website. It's hit or miss how active they are, but the biger the church, the more they have going on. Unless by evangelical you mean non-denominational?
No, I don't mean that, I guess I do mean "active" but also just...passionate and friendly. I like the beliefs of ELCA and Methodist churches (actually our last church was Methodist) but only about half or less of the people look like they really want to be there, yk? At least in my experience. Also...I'd like some people my age... There is a lot of gray hair in most mainline churches. I love old people but some families with kids would be great too.

Maybe I just need to look around to find the MOST active, youngest mainline congregation?

Sigh.
post #4 of 22
You might want to try visiting other UMC congregations in your area. We aren't religious any more, but we did attend a UMC congregation for some time that was pretty liberal and pretty lively. Maybe not hand-waving, shouting kind of lively, but pretty enthusiastic. I've been to other UMC churches in the area, and they do vary a bit. Ours had some older members, but a lot of younger families as well, and it was growing. There were a ton of active, enthusiastic ministries and activities.

I've got a friend who attends a Reformed church, and she complains that her new minister is a little too much of what you are looking for. I think for a lot of liberal denominations, where many beliefs are left up to the individual, ministers have more freedom to structure the worship, so you'll find some variety between congregations.
post #5 of 22
The "charismatic" style worship experience can be found inside of any denomination. it is not exclusive to "evangelical" churches. As a matter of fact many evangelical churches are still protestant traditional with hymns and stuff. but what you are likely to find among churches labeled evangelical is a pretty uniform doctrine embracing most of the things you do not want. That is what makes them Evangelical. So, broaden your search, skip evangelical churches, call around and ask about worship styles, see if there are any with a more modern worship, praise band etc service. Start with doctrine and theology and look for a worship that fits from there.
post #6 of 22
There are Episcopal churches that area more evangelical, use contemporary music/ instruments and of course the Piscy's USA are based on Scripture Tradition and Reason. Not all Episcopal churches offer this, but in my area more than one does. I usually call the church secretaries first to try to ask some of these questions so I don't get shocked by a Rite 1- 1928 Prayerbook type Episcopal parish!

There is also the "Emergent Church" movement. Google it and see if you can find any in your area. Brian McClaren founded a church in my area that has a lot of what you are looking for.
post #7 of 22
Thread Starter 
Thanks for the suggestions everybody. It sounds like most of you think I should focus my search on more liberal churches, hoping to find one that is more lively. Good thoughts. I'll try my best. I did find one ELCA church that had a praise band and stuff but the people just were NOT friendly at all. Nobody said so much as hi to us the two times we went there, except for the guy who handed us a bulletin. And it was a fairly small congregation, so I'm sure they could tell we were new. Didn't feel very welcomed.

No emerging churches in my area. My area is pretty darn conservative.

Oh! To the person who suggested UMC churches, what do you think about a UMC church that is an evangelical church? How does that even work? They give this link to explain it: www.goodnewsmag.org But it sounds like they are probably more evangelical in theology so may not be a good fit for us.
post #8 of 22
Hmmmm... about 2, maybe 3? weeks ago there was an interview on NPR on this subject! The person being interviewed is a founder of an American Evangelical movement. I was only half listening (in the car, the kids were talking, reception was in and out) but the gist seemed to be a focus on leaving politics out of Evangelical worship, focusing the core values (spreading the word of God) on the modern realities (of scientific knowledge, human rights for all, etc) to bring the Evangelical movement into line with the world today.

I'll see if I can find it... I don't remember much more than that... but if I find it I'll post the link.

ETA- thank you google! The guy being interviewed was Rev. Richard Cizik and the group is called the Evangelical Partnership for the Common Good. Interview here. Maybe see if any member churches are nearby?
post #9 of 22
I don't have any specific recommendations for you because we are in Canada, and we seem to have different denominations, or at least they are called my different names.

What I would suggest, however, is to decide what is most important for you in a church, and what you are willing to live with. I can't say that our church is a perfect fit for us, but it checks all of the boxes that really matter, and we can live with the ones that are less important (to us).

We go to an evangellical church with dynamic services like you describe. I really enjoy our services. I can really relate to our pastor (he and his wife are in their mid-30s and have three young kids, so I feel like I can connect to them) and he is a great preacher. I don't usually zone out during his sermons! We have a very active congregation with a good mix of ages, and a large and well-run children's program. We also have a very active youth program with a teens-only service Wednesday nights with loud guitars and lots of young people on fire for God. I can't wait until DD is old enough to take part in that.

We agree with what, to me, are our most important beliefs. Jesus is the son of God. We are saved through grace, not by any works we may do. God is good, and loves us. We are encouraged to read the bible for ourselves, pray, and ask questions.

The church also has some more conservative beliefs that I don't agree with, but I can live with them because it is not something the Pastor ever brings up. For example, our church doesn't believe in gay marriage (we are in Canada, so it is legal) and I don't agree with them on that point. But they aren't giving sermons about homosexuals are going to hell, or protesting in the streets or anything like that, so I can live with it.

I have never been told to spank my kids in church. Does that really happen??

My pastor did do a series on Christian families based on Ephesians and although he did say that the bible gives men authority he got tears in his eyes saying how disgusted he was by men who use it as an excuse to abuse their wives, and how we as a church should not put up with that. Almost all of the men in the congregation got up and cheered.

So although I wish I could find a church that was perfect for us in ever way, I realize that is unlikely to happen, and just had to find the best fit and figure out what you can live with. Good luck!
post #10 of 22
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by just_lily View Post
I have never been told to spank my kids in church. Does that really happen??
Yes, absolutely.

Thanks for the thoughts. Wombat, I will check out that link.
post #11 of 22
Have you tried UCC (United Church of Christ)? They're pretty liberal too, don't have quite the 'staid' service that the Lutherans tend to have. If we weren't already ELCA, I'd consider UCC.
post #12 of 22
There is no perfect church because it is full of imperfect people...just sayin'!
post #13 of 22
Quote:
Originally Posted by LynnS6 View Post
Have you tried UCC (United Church of Christ)? They're pretty liberal too, don't have quite the 'staid' service that the Lutherans tend to have. If we weren't already ELCA, I'd consider UCC.
That was going to be my suggestion. Also American Baptist (not Southern Baptist).

In both denominations, the congregations that are predominantly white tend to have a less charismatic worship style than the congregations that are predominantly African-American, and I have no idea what the worship style is like for congregations that are more diverse than either of those descriptions. So you may need to look around. Also, some UCC churches are called Congregationalist-- I am not 100% sure of the history behind that.

ETA: I have encountered at least one Methodist church where they had a "contemporary" service, but that might just have been because the pastor liked to play the guitar.
post #14 of 22
American Baptist is liberal? Who knew? I was raised American Baptist (and Presbyterian), and I know it is more liberal than Southern Baptist, but still.

Maybe there is a search-for-a-congregation on the Sojourners site? They are liberal evangelical christians. My friend who works there attends an Episcopal service, I think.

There is a search directory for "faith and justice" churches by zip code distance.
post #15 of 22
American Baptists' liberalism vs. conservatism varies by region and by congregation. On gay marriage, for example: http://pewforum.org/Gay-Marriage-and...-Marriage.aspx
post #16 of 22
Thread Starter 
Interesting. I've never thought of Baptists as liberal either.

Quote:
Originally Posted by LynnS6 View Post
Have you tried UCC (United Church of Christ)? They're pretty liberal too, don't have quite the 'staid' service that the Lutherans tend to have. If we weren't already ELCA, I'd consider UCC.
I tried a UCC in our old location, and it was even more staid than Lutherans. I haven't tried one here yet.
post #17 of 22
Quote:
Originally Posted by BarefootScientist View Post
I tried a UCC in our old location, and it was even more staid than Lutherans. I haven't tried one here yet.
The UCC is interesting because although they have an overarching 'organization' each church still makes their own basic decisions. Some tow the UCC party line (all walks of life, etc) and some don't. I think you just have to try each one out to see if it is a good fit.

Also, in terms of worship style, we are seeing a generational change over in our church right now (UCC, Congregational). We don't sing as many hymns as I would like and have a praise band (drums, keyboard, bass, electric guitar, vocalists). I know we have lost some older members to another UCC church here in town because it is more traditional.

And to answer an earlier question- Many churches in the UCC are 'Congregationalist' because that is what they were before the UCC was formed (mid century 1900s). The UCC was formed from a bunch of smaller denominations, most of which I can't remember now. I'm in NE and we're chuck full of Congregational churches
post #18 of 22
Quote:
Originally Posted by ASusan View Post
American Baptist is liberal? Who knew? I was raised American Baptist (and Presbyterian), and I know it is more liberal than Southern Baptist, but still.

.

I grew up with Southern Baptist and the area I live in now mostly has American Baptist and General Baptist Conference. I have also been in Missionary Baptist. Of those I would say ABC is fa and away the MOST liberal but as with all things most and more it all depends on what it is being compared to. While it is still fairly conservative by some standards it is was my liberal than SBC and little more liberal than the GBC.
post #19 of 22
Do you have any Vineyard churches in your area? We have found one that is everything you are looking for. Until a couple of months ago, we were Episcopalian... loved the "liberal" leaning and acceptance of all others, but wanted so much more. We wanted to find a community that not only preaches the gospel, but LIVES it. I love the vision that our pastor and others share... to reach out to the community they are in and love others as Christ loves us. I've never been a part of a church like this before. Each church may vary slightly from the next, but I think there's a good chance you will be happy with what you see and hear at a Vineyard Church!!
post #20 of 22
I wouldn't really say the vineyard was liberal theologically though. They are pretty conservative unless they are really changing.
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