Carol Howard Merritt
Digital version available for:
2008 Award of Merit from Religious Communicators Council
Christian Century's Top Ten Practical Theology Books of 2008
Many churches are seeking ways to reach out to the younger generations. Unfortunately this often manifests as either a “come be just like us!” attitude—suggesting an unwillingness to change in order to be inclusive of young people—or as a slick marketing campaign that targets young adults in much the same way secular advertising does. Both of these approaches often leave young adults feeling that their particular spiritual gifts and needs are unwanted by the church. “We only want you for your demographics” is the message given.
Carol Howard Merritt, a pastor in her mid-thirties, suggests a different way for churches to be able to approach young adults on their own terms. Outlining the financial, social, and familial situations that affect many young adults today, she describes how churches can provide a safe, supportive place for young adults to nurture relationships and foster spiritual growth. There are few places left in society that allow for real intergenerational connections to be made, yet these connections are vital for any church that seeks to reflect the fullness of the body of Christ.
Using the metaphor of a tribe to describe the close bonds that form when people of all ages decide to walk together on their spiritual journeys, Merritt casts a vision of the church that embraces the gifts of all members while reaching out to those who might otherwise feel unwelcome or unneeded. Mainline churches have much to offer young adults, as well as much to learn from them. By breaking down artificial age barriers and building up intentional relationships, congregations can provide a space for all people to connect with God, each other, and the world.
“Pastors and congregations trying to figure out where Generation X has gone will find Merritt's book extremely helpful. Merritt writes from insdide the Gen X postmodern experience and as a mainline pastor.” —Antony Robinson, Christian Century
“I cannot think of a more valuable book for pastors, lay leaders, and anyone concerned about the future of the church than Tribal Church. Anyone who wants to understand better the young people who are coming to their church (or those who are not coming!) and how we can better respond to their quest for faith, meaning, life, and love should read this book, and read it with care.” —Michael Jinkins, Academic Dean and Professor of Pastoral Theology at Austin Presbyterian Theological Seminary and author of Letters to New Pastors
“Carol Howard Merritt dismantles the wall of stained glass that often separates mainline churches from people under forty. Combining real-life stories, personal reflections as a thirty-something, and current research, Merritt affords congregtions a clearer, more compassionate view not only of the 'missing generation,' but of themselves and their ministry.” —Eric Elnes, Senior Pastor of Scottsdale Congregational United Church of Christ and author of Asphalt Jesus: Finding a New Christian Faith on the Highways of America
“Carol Howard Merritt crisply articulates fresh answers to those tired mainline plaints, ‘Where are the young people? What do they want?’ Her recommendations will rouse cheers from our seminary students, give new lenses to aging Boomer eyes, and fill our pews with new vitality.” —Anne S. Howard, Executive Director, The Beatitudes Society
Carol Howard Merritt has served as a pastor at First Presbyterian Church in Abbeville, Louisiana, and Barrington Presbyterian Church in Barrington, Rhode Island. She is currently a pastor at Western Presbyterian Church in Washington, D.C. Her blog can be found at www.tribalchurch.org.
Alban No. AL337
paper, 208 pages
($13.60 for members)