United Methodist Pastor Martin Thielen outlines a list of ten things Christians do not need to believe—and ten things they do—to “qualify” as Christians in a new book from Westminster John Knox Press. In What’s the Least I Can Believe and Still Be a Christian? A Guide to What Matters Most, Thielen targets seekers and believers who want an expression of Christian faith that is different from the judgmental and narrow-minded caricatures seen on television or in the news. In the first section of the book, ten things Christians do not need to believe, Thielen includes “left behind” theology and literal interpretations of the Bible, as well as the notion that it’s heresy to believe in evolution. Thielen follows this list with ten things Christians do need to believe. This list is centered around Jesus—his life, his teachings, his death and resurrection, and his vision for the world.

The book includes a free online Leader’s Guide for church leaders. It offers aids for worship and preaching, small-group discussions, and planning and promotional aids, all for carrying out a seven-week, congregation-wide initiative using the book. Thielen hopes the Leader’s Guide will help bring new energy to congregations and help them reach out to their communities. The book and Leader’s Guide are available from The Thoughtful Christian. Additional information, including an author Q & A and tips and materials for using the Leader’s Guide, is accessible at http://thielen.wjkbooks.com.

Martin Thielen is Senior Pastor of Lebanon First United Methodist Church, in Lebanon, Tennessee. He has been a national worship and preaching consultant and seminary professor, and has led more than one hundred church leadership workshops across the country. An interview with Martin Thielen on WJK Radio with Dan and Jana can be heard at http://wjkradio.wjkbooks.com.