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Progressive Evangelicals

The Christian Church has been a religious and cultural force since its inception four centuries after the ministry of Jesus. Whatever happened during the brief time Jesus taught, has continued to resonate through the years. Two billion people on the planet still believe in some version of what it offers.


Critics will point out that in addition to its positive contributions, Christianity, like all other religious traditions, has also been responsible for much suffering as well. The fact that more humans have been killed on this planet in the name of God, points to the extreme challenges that organized religion faces at a traditional level.


In our time, particularly in the United States, Christianity has continued to play a major role in cultural and political circles. 51% of US citizens attend religious services, although 40% say they pray weekly and those two groups don’t automatically overlap. In comparison 10-15% attend church in Europe. There is definite decline in membership in the western world in “religious” organizations, but there is also a growing number of people that self-identify with the term “spiritual but not religious." Something is trying to evolve that includes the healthy parts of traditional religion in a new integral view of spirituality.


The group we are covering is this section self identify as progressive evangelicals. Evangelicals have been mostly known as a conservative force in the US for 100 years. Although lately the term evangelical is aligned with a group that has moved far right, this new group of progressive evangelicals is emerging from the mega-church movement than tends to include diversity in race, gender and sexual orientation. They are exploring re-aligning with the original teachings of Jesus, not the dogma of the church. They are beginning to be a political force in favor of immigration, pro-choice and social justice. These interviews I  conducted with a diverse representation of progressive evangelical writers, pastors and activists.

Ryan Meeks Interview

Ryan Meeks is the co-founder of the Eastlake Church just outside of Seattle, Washington. With his wife and small group of friends they formed the original organization and it quickly grew into a congregation  that numbered in the thousands. In the effort to be more inclusive, Ryan decided to include the LGBT community and over the next few months they watched thousands of members leave. In this interview, Ryan describes how they are still thriving as progressive evangelicals.

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Click on  ARROWS  to enlarge to full screen

Brian McLaren Interview

Brian D. McLaren is an author, speaker, activist, and public theologian. A former college English teacher and pastor, he is a passionate advocate for “a new kind of Christianity” – just, generous, and working with people of all faiths for the common good. He is an Auburn Senior Fellow and a leader in the Convergence Network, through which he is developing an innovative training/mentoring program for pastors, church planters, and lay leaders called Convergence Leadership Project.

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Frank Schaeffer Interview

Frank comes from a long line of evangelical royalty. His father Francis Schaeffer was a compatriot of Billy Graham and wrote best selling books that established the basis for the next generation of fundamentalist evangelical leadership. Frank joined his father in this movement, writing his own books and making Hollywood movies until he woke up to a more progressive understanding of the teachings of Jesus. Neither a Republican or Democrat Frank speaks out these days for humanistic values that will create the generative world he wants for his grandchildren.

Brandan Robertson Inteview

Brandan Robertson is a noted author, LBGT community activist, has been interviewed by MSNBC, Time Magazine, Wall St. Journal  and the Huffington Post and is pastor of Mission Gathering Christian Church in San Diego, California. The movement that Brendan is a leader of holds the healthy traditional Christian practices while expanding from the dogma of the church to the teachings of Jesus. In this interview he  describes his journey as a gay Christian deeply involved in social justice.

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Gareth Higgans Interview

Gareth Higgans is a writer, founder of the Wild Goose Christian Festival, the editor of Porch Magazine and the director of The New Story Festival. Gareth is a real innovator in the role of new stories in the evolution of spiritual intelligence in the world. Progressive Christianity is exploring the next version of its story and its alignment with the teachings of Jesus.

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Click on  ARROWS  to enlarge to full screen

Mark Tidd Interview

Mark received an Master of Divinity from Calvin Theological Seminary and has been a pastor since 1984. In March, 2010 he lost his ordination in the Christian Reformed Church because of his beliefs and practice of the full inclusion of the LGBTQ community in the life of the church. Mark is currently the co-pastor of the Highlands Church in Denver CO. Highlands Church is a progressive Christian church rooted in a Trinitarian understanding of God with roots in the evangelical traditions of worship.

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