I’m back, and I have a new idea. (Yes. Another one.)

No worries, campers. Theocademy is not dead, but it is morphing into something else. More on that in another post.

For now, I’d like your help thinking through another idea that I have. Buckle up, this might be a bumpy ride.

I have recently been reading through Diana Butler Bass’ new book Christianity After Religion: The End of The Church And The Birth of A New Spiritual Awakening. I had intended to wait to break it open this summer after the 220th General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church (when my term as Vice Moderator ends and my life returns to a relatively normal pace), but this series of posts by my friend Rocky changed my mind.

I’ve gotta tell you: I love this book. Not only because it’s great writing, but because I resonate with it so completely. For instance: Just a month ago I preached that we should be about “belonging, behaving, andthen believing as Christians.” Then I pop open DBB’s book and…she’s saying the same thing.


So Rocky and I are chatting this text up, having a blast and I mention that I am returning to a love affair with long-form writing, high-quality journalism, and print as of late. I have discovered media outlets that are staffed and visioned by persons of my generation who consider topics I’m concerned about and write about them in a way that I can hang with.

So I suggest to Rocky that we start a magazine exploring the “next Great Awakening” that DBB writes about in her book. He doesn’t run for the hills, so we proceed. 2-3 weeks later, and after many many chat conversations we’ve birthed an idea, and I’d like you to help me figure out if its just an idea better left to the wayside or one worth pursuing.

The upshot is, I’d like you to take a survey about the magazine concept for me. It’s truly not long and it’ll take maybe 5 minutes of your time.

We’re calling the idea “The New Ecclesiast”, and here’s the “Editorial Philosophy” we’re working from:

The New Ecclesiast is a quarterly thematic journal that investigates the people and ideas associated with the “new spiritual awakening” as suggested by Diana Butler Bass in her book Christianity After Religion: The End of Church and the Birth of a New Spiritual Awakening. The main focus will be the lives and interests of those no longer satisfied with Modern Christendom, especially younger Gen Xers and Millennials as they search for a more authentic spiritual expression. The message will be bold and principled, unafraid to take firm stances on dicey issues, and will find its content largely in the consideration of inter-religious/inter-spiritual ideas and practices, the work and convictions surrounding creation care, and in the pursuit of peace and equality (with particular focus on combating violence, poverty, and oppression). This message will be communicated through a variety of voices – some humorous, some painful, some cutting, some joyful – but will each share an earnestness that this journey towards a new spiritual awakening is vital and must be taken seriously. Ultimately, this platform has been created in order to inspire these new ecclesiasts to begin crafting new structures of their religious and spiritual existence, and to realize that they need not do it alone for they are not alone.

If that sounds like a magazine you’d consider subscribing to, I would love for you to take our survey. I’ll leave it up until next Saturday so you have some time.


Click here to take survey

15 thoughts on “I’m back, and I have a new idea. (Yes. Another one.)”

  1. As a writer and a fan of new ideas, as well as a fan of you and Rocky, this trips a lot of my triggers. I would love to write for such a magazine… but here’s the catch would I read it? I don’t read any magazines in print right now. None. I read a lot of shorter form (blogs) writing and articles that pop up in my reader or on social media, but I don’t necessarily seek the longer form stuff out. What would be the hook of this project that would make people like me change our habits?

    1. I totally hear that, and I’m aware that that might just be THE hurdle to get over. However, here’s my testimony:

      Until recently, I have said that same thing. But then I watched this video:http://vimeo.com/38139635, and started reading GOOD and MONOCLE magazines.

      The combo of Boyd’s contention and the perspective of both magazines have revealed to me that I do actually value high-quality journalism and writing, just not journalism and writing that belies the (forgive the broad brush stroke) traditional Boomer perspectives and values.

      My hope is that minds can be changed by connecting on a level other publications aren’t.

  2. I like the idea, and it might be worth pursuing (that’s up to you, ultimately – if you have the time and passion, I’m sure you can make it work), but I definitely wouldn’t call it The New Ecclesiast🙂

    Some other options:

    The Church After Church
    Hipster Church and Beyond!
    The Official Journal of the Third Great Awakening
    Killing Caesar
    Echoes of the Baby Boom
    Generation Xianity
    We’re Leaving Your Church and Taking Jesus With Us

    For start-up wealth, I recommend Kickstarter very strongly. It’s a great way to fundraise from your audience. Even as a totally unknown author with no significant following, I more than doubled my fundraising goal for a new book. You are far more well-known, have much more of a following, and this means you are perfectly positioned to take advantage of Kickstarter (or IndieGoGo or whatever) to get this publication started off exactly as you want it to be.

    1. Sorry, but those titles are all problematic in their own ways. “The New Ecclesiast” is perfectly fine as it encapsulates the view that we are trying to figure out the newest incarnation/dispensation/mode of life as the Church.
      Gung ho Landon! There is a lot of demand for something like this in the world of academia/seminary.

      1. Ah. If you’re shooting for an audience primarily in academia, The New Ecclesiast makes more sense. And yeah, the titles I put up were all just what came to mind while I was typing.

      2. Not sure “academia” is the primary audience, but I’m not aiming for something ironic.

        another idea I had was “Pilgrim.”

      3. I gotcha. My thinking, for whatever it’s worth, is that I would have to explain to most people I know, even churchy types, what an “Ecclesiast” is – which works well for academia, but not for not-academia. I think Pilgrim is a cool, though vague, title. Maybe a second word that clarifies what kind of “Pilgrim”?

      4. I agree on “ecclesiast.” My thinking on the vaguery of “Pilgrim” is that it allows for a bit of continued interpretation.
        Do you buy that? What might you suggest if I held you down and forced you to?

      5. Hmm…bear in mind I’m tired and these are, again, just what comes to mind.

        Maybe replace Pilgrim with Pilgrimmage – describing a journey rather than a type of person. Implying ongoing process and change, perhaps.

        Another option might be Jesus Pilgrims – trying to avoid the words Church or Christianity, but saying succinctly what kinds of pilgrims you’re talking to.

        Maybe something like Pilgrimmage & Cross – moving forward but still rooted in a thing.

        New Pilgrims could carry new over from Ecclesiasts. Still a little vague, but at least differentiated from, say, the historical Pilgrims at a glance. Also kind of implying that you are, like them, theoretically moving out into new space seeking freedom you don’t have where you are now.

        I don’t know if those are good, but I’m not thinking of anything better atm. If more stuff comes up, I’ll post it. Good luck!

  3. Well, actually, I found the April 6 Newsweek rather heavy going, so don’t know if I would be mentally qualified as a subscriber, but I’ll try to ke3p an open mind!

  4. Welcome Back. I also loved DBB’s book. She pulls a lot from Phyllis’ Great Emergent (including the belong, behave, believe piece) but – thinking also about last week’s Newsweek article by Andrew Sullivan with the white Jesus on the cover – there is a huge need to offer “the church after church” conversation possibilities. The title “The Ecclesiast” works for me.

    See you in Pittsburgh.

  5. Love your ideas. Would likely be a subscriber. Haven’t read DBB latest yet, but it’s on my stack of “to-reads.” Since awakenings in my church would be team effort of Ruling Elders & Teaching Elders, I’d want to include my Session in the readings on some kind of intentional basis. The title “Ecclesiast” – while logical & creative for me – would be a somewhat-strange term to attract Ruling Elders.

    1. I agree. While I like it, its not sticking for me. Plus, I’m not a huge fan of the way it sounds.
      I’m also thinking about “Pilgrim” for a name.

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