Reframing Hope: Vital Ministry in a New Generation

Reframing Hope Reframing Hope Alban Institute

Carol Howard Merritt

Alban Institute, 2010 


Merritt, a Presbyterian minister and perceptive and frank observer of the 21st century church, (author of Tribal Church) considers the dilemma that many churches are now facing with the current social, economic, and generational transitions.

They see their formerly majority-generation members fading and aging and the Generation X's and the Millennials moving up to fill the pews.  Many churches are struggling with shaping a spiritual community that people can respond to. Within the book's chapters (Redistributing Authority, Re-forming Community, Reexamining the Medium, Retelling the Message, Reinventing Activism, Renewing Creation, and Retraditioning Spirituality) Merritt takes the reader step-by step through the possibilities of a hope-filled transformation for the new millennium.  She begins by examining how church communities have been structured and operate in the past and the dramatic economic and demographic changes that have challenged that structure.  Then Merritt looks at the ways in which electronic communication has revolutionized the broader culture, including affecting social action, the progressive movement, and inevitably the congregations.  Yet, according to Merritt, these changes offer opportunities for a new spritual landscape that matches the perspective of the under-50 who have spiritual yearnings just as much as their elders, but will now seek and find it in different ways within a restructred traditional framework that heals or discards the worst, preserves the best, and learns from the new.  WIth refreshing clarity and honesty  Merritt explores these issues which are of greatest concern to American congregations today with hope for a vital church for the future which is grounded in its biblical tradition of compassion and action.


Carol Howard Merritt, a Presbyterian minister, lives in Chattanooga, TN. She blogs at at Christian Century magazine, co-hosts the Internet radio show, God Complex Radio, and is a national speaker on the contemporary church.

"Merritt has become an influential voice for and among that growing body of Christians known as the 'hyphenateds' or the 'loyal radicals.' In Reframing Hope, she speaks elegantly and eloquently about the blessings of keeping the treasures of inherited Church even as we move, in our times, toward new ways of being Church.... It is also a clarion call to a revitalized practice within the established traditions of Western Christianity."  - Phyllis Tickle, author of The Great Emergence 

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