National Edition

Tattooed, foulmouthed woman aiding progressive church movement

Published: Wednesday, Nov. 6 2013 9:15 p.m. MST

Tattooed, foulmouthed and liberal, Nadia Bolz-Weber is bringing a new perspective to Christians as churches try to make the jump to a more modern age.

Ed Andrieski, Associated Press

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With a decline in church attendance, religious organizations and leaders are looking for new ways to connect to potential worshippers.

One of those leaders is Nadia Bolz-Weber of the University United Methodist Church in Austin, Texas. Tattooed, foul-mouthed and liberal, Bolz-Weber is bringing a new perspective to Christians, according to The Washington Post.

Bolz-Weber “launched a successful church for disaffected young people and has headlined youth gatherings tens of thousands strong," according to The Washington Post. "For a part of American religion that’s been in a long, slow institutional decline, this gives her major credibility."

She's not your typical preacher, either. She "represents a new, muscular form of liberal Christianity, one that merges the passion and life-changing fervor of evangelicalism with the commitment to inclusiveness and social justice of mainline Protestantism,” reported The Washington Post. “She’s a tatted-up, foul-mouthed champion to people sick of being belittled as not Christian enough for the right or too Jesus-y for the left.”

Bolz-Weber is almost a representation of this progressive movement by churches across the United States. The Washington Post said her congregation, more casual and liberal, is now “mainstream America” rather than what typical churchgoers saw in the past.

After releasing a New York Times best-selling book “Pastrix: The Cranky, Beautiful Faith of a Sinner & Saint,” Bolz-Weber is attracting new followers and bringing common people to the pews.

Some churches have built other ways to attract people to the pews, including social media, speed-faithing and, more recently, by heading to a bar and brewing beer.

“Some church groups are brewing it themselves, while others bring the Holy Mysteries to a taproom,” reported NPR. “The result is not sloshed congregants; rather, it's an exploratory approach to do church differently.”

But these gatherings are connecting churches to a younger audience. Recently, churches have struggled reaching out to millennials and those ages 18-29, according to the Wall Street Journal. Moving church meetings to the bar has helped reach out to a younger crowd.

"The hardest thing in the church, period, is reaching out to people my age," said Jake Shirreffs, a 23-year-old, to WSJ.

But when some bar attendees see the church meeting, sometimes they become interested and want to learn a bit more, NPR reported.

“A guy sits at the bar nursing a beer, he overhears the Gospel of Luke, he sees people line up to take bread and wine, he gets curious.”

Email: hscribner@deseretnews.com

Twitter: @hscribner

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