One of the main speakers at this year’s Greenbelt Festival was Brian McLaren: prominent pastor, best-selling author, activist and speaker, who was named by Timemagazine in 2005 one of the 25 most influential evangelicals in the States.
Obviously, I wanted to meet him. Stupidly, I was a bit nervous. Of course I didn’t need to be.
Time’s description of him as one of those leading a worldwide movement to establish “a kinder and gentler brand of religion” rang absolutely true, as I found him to be kind and gentle too. As well as thoughtful and open….about his journey from a fundamentalist Christian upbringing, to his understanding of faith today, from English teacher to accidental pastor of Cedar Ridge, where he stayed for 20 years, to life now as a fulltime speaker, writer, and mentor.
He’s not without his very vocal critics, but he’s clear that if people are happy and confident in their faith approach, that’s great. They don’t have to listen to him or agree with him. It’s to those who are seeking, or are disillusioned with the established way and, if they haven’t left already, are about to, that he feels a calling, so that they might also be connected to Christ and his mission.