McChurch Picks Up Progressive Endorsements

In this season of touring political machines a religious tour machine is set to launch. And no, it isn’t Huckabee playing “praise music” club gigs. It’s Pastor Brian McLaren and his tour to reinvent Christian thinking is coming to your town.

Brian McLaren, a.k.a. the original “new kind” of Christian, has launched a four-month tour supporting his greatest reinvention of Christian thinking since his last greatest reinvention of Christian thinking. The idea this time? Reinvent everything. His new audio CD, book, and tour share the collective mandate that “Everything Must Change.”

To follow the McLaren reinvention machine one has to be speedy. In 2006 he called for a Christian with a “generous orthodoxy.” In 2003 he called for the “emergent” Christian. Still earlier in 2001 was the call that defined McLaren as the reinvention pastor. He called for a “new kind” of Christian who could, through an embrace of postmodernism, breathe life into burned-out, Bible-beat conservatism.

The core message of a McLaren book is a call for Christian thought unrestrained by assumption, literalism, prejudice, or habitual faith. Still McLaren-brand reinvention is also a market product. It toots along like a happy machine.

With each reinvention is a book. Some reinventions include a developmental guide or a spin-off sequel, while the latest includes an event tour (Pay by credit card or check!). To be clear then: McLaren is his own consumer trend. But his reinvention sells and, when consumed, produces fertile opportunities for insight.

A ticket to the “Everything Must Change” tour is, somewhat oddly perhaps, a plunge into a pool of progressive partners.

Multiethnic churches and urban ministries will play tour hosts. Sojourners magazine is an event co-sponsor—no small potatoes considering the mainstream cachet of Jim Wallis, the founder /editor of Sojourners and author of the chart burner, God’s Politics. And McLaren has friends outside the faith box too. The Sierra Club is signed up. You tell me the last time people paid for tickets to a preacher-meets-politico-meets-tree-hugger event.

Observing, then, the McLaren-brand machine gurgling and chirping right along, a fair question presents itself: What’s next? Will it be possible to re-reinvent Christian thought after “everything” is changed? Only McLaren knows for sure. You? You’ll have to wait to buy his next (McLaren-brand/necessary) book.