The Shift: Surviving and Thriving after Moving from Conservative to Progressive Christianity

When Christians are kicked out of their conservative churches or leave because they no longer feel at home, they embark on a journey of freedom and fear, love and loneliness, empowerment and pain. The movement from conservative to progressive Christianity is a serious shift. Colby Martin has traversed this treacherous territory, survived its hardships, and is now turning around to share what he’s learned.

This book is a friendly survival guide to help followers of Jesus navigate the strange and confusing landscape when shifting from conservative to progressive Christianity. This book will prepare progressive Christians (from long-time progressives to those just starting out) for the pitfalls awaiting them as they shift out of their conservative world, and it will equip them for a more abundant, thriving, and peace-filled spiritual life.

Excerpt from the Introduction
“Ideally, this book will function like a survival guide. A survival guide is written by someone who has traversed treacherous territory, fallen down its pitfalls, survived its hardships, and then turned around to shout across the ravine, ‘Yeah, it’s no joke out here! But if you’d like, here’s what I learned. Perhaps it can make your excursion along similar territory slightly less cumbersome.'”


“Colby Martin’s The Shift is both topical and highly readable. It’s a guide for Progressive Christians, providing advice on how to adjust to post-evangelical life for those whose formerly zealous eyes have been opened and rinsed. Martin traces today’s vast movement away from the fervor of evangelical Christianity toward a more adult, reasoned, non-doctrinal approach. In a hefty series of short chapters, he establishes an immediate rapport with his readers, a friendship which he then employs to explore the many challenges the large body of new “Shifters” may be facing.

Martin voices and explains the convictions that now guide his life. One is “expanded hearts for all people” (all sexual leanings; two or more sexes). Another? He “accepts scientific inquiry as a companion, not as competitor toward spiritual enlightenment”. He also offers us a far more healthful understanding of Justice: not the old one that threatens “retaliation and consequences”, but rather one that’s “restorative.” I particularly admire his advice that we should use our days to “do more than [study] for a post-death test.”

Martin’s style is informal, readable and engaging He gives wise and sober guidance on how we should handle such former elements of our spiritual lives, including, yes, God and the Bible, as well as one’s former faith comrades. And even church. Though a practicing pastor, Martin encourages his readers to be cautious even about attending church. His vision is for churches that see themselves as “revealers of the Divine, not distributors”.

This genial iconoclast offers no views of “who or what or why (or even if) God is.” But his central reminder is reassuring. When we shed or modify earlier beliefs, he tells us, “it’s not a sign of failing faith, but one that is… thriving.” — Jamieson Spencer, Reviewer for

“The Shift is a practical, heartfelt guide about how to find life after loss, peace after pain, and healing after spiritual wounding. If you’re wondering how to begin again with a new, wider faith: start right here.” —Glennon Doyle, New York Times bestselling author of Untamed and Love Warrior; founder of Together Rising

“Christians already on the path of change will find this a well-written, thoughtful road map…Martin’s welcoming words will be of comfort to any Christian looking for alternatives to conservative Christianity.” —Publishers Weekly

“Colby Martin has been a trusted guide through the many spiritual landmines our generation has grappled with. In The Shift, he creates a sturdy path to walk upon as many of us venture away from the old forms of faith we once knew and into new, sometimes disorienting territory.” —Jen Hatmaker, New York Times bestselling author of Of Mess and Moxie and For the Love; host of the For the Love Podcast

“There’s so much wisdom, so much compassion, and so much encouragement packed into these pages…I know you’ll love The Shift!” —Brian McLaren, author and speaker

“Readers looking to reexamine their assumptions and beliefs will find much encouragement here, as will those seeking an excellent example guidance. A beneficial resource for anyone moving from conservative to progressive Christian communities.” —Library Journal

“A must-read for anyone on the path of moving from conservative to progressive Christianity, this book offers unbounded help as you go along your journey.” —Brit Barron, author of Worth It

About the AuthorColby Martin is cofounder of Sojourn Grace Collective in San Diego, California, and cohost of the Kate and Colby Show. He is a leading voice in the progressive Christian movement and helps lead Launchpad Partners, Inc., which seeks to plant and resource progressive Christian communities across the United States. He is also the author of UnClobber: Rethinking our Misuse of the Bible on Homosexuality.

Review & Commentary