Outlandish final book cover (large file).jpg
Head Shot (Penwell).jpg


Welcome to the Web site of Derek Penwell, author of Outlandish: An Unlikely Messiah, a Messy Ministry, and a Call to Mobilize from Chalice Press. Outlandish asks the question: "What if you found out that the way Jesus is represented by popular Christianity gets him exactly backwards, reinforcing the narrative of power and success that his life and ministry challenged?" This book takes a careful look at Jesus’ life, ministry, death, and resurrection, arguing that, taken together, they show not only the cost of following him, but how following his counterintuitive lead can transform the world—not with the superstars who lead charmed lives, but with the people nobody in their right mind would expect 

Derek is also the author of The Mainliner's Guide to the Post-Denominational Worldalso by Chalice Press. It's a book that offers the paradoxical answer to the question about whether the Protestant Mainline is dying: Yes. So, the only thing left to do is to quit trying to hang on. 

Derek writes other stuff, like his blog here, his column at The Good Men Project, and over at the Huffington Post, where he offers up a regular smackdown to injustice and religious hypocrisy, and pontificates wildly and presumptuously on what declining churches should quit doing.

Derek is also the (amazingly lucky) pastor at Douglass Blvd. Christian Church in Louisville, Ky.

He's also an activist, unashamedly offering his support in the pursuit of justice for LGBTQ people, Muslims, people of color, immigrants, and those people regularly dumped on by the tools who always seem to find themselves in charge of everything. In addition to which, generally speaking, (and usually unprompted) he pops off . . . trying to keep the fires hot under the pedicured feet of the suits who run roughshod over the prostrate bodies of those on the margins. Welcome aboard!

Jesus was a lousy Messiah…

“What is it about Jesus that calls to people? What is that makes people think that, even though they themselves have no commitment to Jesus, he and his people represent something different from the troubled politics of division and distrust—something that reassures people that, when the black boots come, people committed to the Jesus they’ve heard about in the Gospels will stand up and say ‘no’ to any authority that discounts the weak, that grinds the poor and the powerless to dust? Where do the people who call themselves by Jesus’ name get the resources to live this life of faithful resistance, of holy political subversion?”

This book is an attempt to get to the bottom of these questions.


"Contrary to popular opinion, Jesus didn’t come to save your soul; he came to subvert your politics."

Rev. Barber and I.jpg

Shut up and take my email address!

* indicates required