McLaren founded Cedar Ridge Community Church in Spencerville, Maryland, in 1982 while he was teaching English on the college level. In 1986, he became a full-time pastor. The church eventually grew to include 500 members. In 2015, McLaren was recognized by Time magazine as one of the 25 Most Influential Evangelicals in America. McLaren left his position at Cedar Ridge in 2006 to pursue writing and speaking full time.
In 2013, McLaren stated that he did not believe homosexual conduct to be sinful.
McLaren is married and has four children. He has traveled extensively in Europe, Latin America, and Africa, and his personal interests include ecology, fishing, hiking, kayaking, camping, songwriting, music, art, and literature. In September 2012, McLaren led a commitment ceremony for his son Trevor and partner Owen Ryan at the Audubon Naturalist Society in Chevy Chase, Maryland.
- The Church on the Other Side: Doing Ministry in the Postmodern Matrix (originally published as Reinventing Your Church, Zondervan, March 1998 ISBN 9780310216544)
- Finding Faith: A Self-Discovery Guide for Your Spiritual Quest (Zondervan, June 1999, ISBN 9780310225423)
- A New Kind of Christian: A Tale of Two Friends on a Spiritual Journey (Jossey-Bass, January 2001, ISBN 9780787955991)
- More Ready Than You Realize: Evangelism as Dance in the Postmodern Matrix (Zondervan, January 2002, ISBN 9780310239642)
- A Is for Abductive: The Language of the Emerging Church (co-written with Leonard Sweet and Jerry Haselmayer, Zondervan, December 2002, ISBN 9780310243564)
- Adventures in Missing the Point: How the Culture-Controlled Church Neutered the Gospel (co-written with Tony Campolo, Emergent/YS, March 2003, ISBN 9780310253846)
- The Church in Emerging Culture: Five Perspectives (Zondervan Emergent/YS, October 2003 ISBN 9780310254874) Leonard Sweet (General Editor), with contributors Andy Crouch, Brian D. McLaren, Erwin McManus, Michael Horton, Frederica Mathewes-Green
- The Story We Find Ourselves In: Further Adventures of a New Kind of Christian (Jossey-Bass, February 2003, ISBN 9780787963873)
- A Generous Orthodoxy: Why I Am a Missional, Evangelical, Post/Protestant, Liberal/Conservative, Mystical/Poetic, Biblical, Charismatic/Contemplative, Fundamentalist/Calvinist, Anabaptist/Anglican, Methodist, Catholic, Green, Incarnational, Depressed-yet-Hopeful, Emergent, Unfinished CHRISTIAN (Zondervan, September 2004, ISBN 9780310257479)
- The Last Word and the Word After That: A Tale of Faith, Doubt, and a New Kind of Christianity (Jossey-Bass, April 2005, ISBN 9780787975920)
- The Secret Message of Jesus: Uncovering the Truth that Could Change Everything (W Publishing Group, April 2006, ISBN 9780849900006)
- The Voice of Luke: Not Even Sandals (Thomas Nelson, July 2007) ISBN 0-529-12351-7
- Everything Must Change: Jesus, Global Crises, and a Revolution of Hope (Thomas Nelson, October 2007) ISBN 0-8499-0183-9
- Finding Our Way Again: The Return of the Ancient Practices (Thomas Nelson, May 2008) ISBN 0-8499-0114-6
- The Justice Project (Baker, September 2009), edited with Elisa Padilla, and Ashley Bunting Seeber ISBN 0-8010-1328-3
- A New Kind of Christianity (HarperOne, February 2010) ISBN 0-06-185398-4
- Naked Spirituality: A Life With God in 12 Simple Words (HarperOne, March 2011) ISBN 0-06-185401-8
- Why Did Jesus, Moses, the Buddha, and Mohammed Cross the Road? Christian Identity in a Multi-Faith World (Jericho Books, September 2012) ISBN 978-1-4555-1396-3
- We Make the Road by Walking: A Year-Long Quest for Spiritual Formation, Reorientation, and Activation (Jericho Books, June 2014) ISBN 9781455514007
- The Great Spiritual Migration: How the World's Largest Religion Is Seeking a Better Way to Be Christian (Convergent Books, September 2017, ISBN 9781601427915)
- Seeking Aliveness: Daily Reflections on a New Way to Experience and Practise the Christian Faith (Hodder & Stoughton, October 2017, ISBN 9781478947479)
- The Galápagos Islands: A Spiritual Journey (Broadleaf Press, October 2019, ISBN 9781506448251)
- Faith After Doubt: Why Your Beliefs Stopped Working and What to Do About It (St. Martin's Press, January 2021, ISBN 9781250262776)
- "Brian McLaren: Postmodern Christianity Understood as Story". Christianpost.com. Retrieved 22 August 2017.
- Garrison, Greg (August 2, 2014). "'The Bible is a book about immigration': Emerging Church leader McLaren returning to Birmingham". al.
- "Brian McLaren - Paradigm Shifter". Time. 2005-02-07. Archived from the original on June 11, 2010.
- "Brian McLaren Defends Rob Bell against Mohler's Critique". Christianpost.com. Retrieved 22 August 2017.
- Theoblogy (8 October 2012). "Brian McLaren's View on Homosexuality".
- "Brian McLaren - Biography". 20 April 2006. Archived from the original on 20 April 2006.
- "Trevor McLaren, Owen Ryan - Weddings". The New York Times. 2012-09-23. Retrieved 15 October 2012.
- Carson, D. A. Becoming Conversant with the Emerging Church. Grand Rapids, Michigan Zondervan, 2005.
- Erickson, Millard. Postmodernizing the Faith: Evangelical Responses to the Challenge of Postmodernism. Grand Rapids, Michigan: Baker Books, 1998.
- ________; Helseth, Paul Kjoss; and Taylor, Justin eds. Reclaiming the Center: Confronting Evangelical Accommodation in Postmodern Times. Wheaton, Illinois: Crossway Books, 2004.
- Smith, R. Scott. Truth and the New Kind of Christian: The Emerging Effects of Postmodernism in the Church. Wheaton, Illinois: Crossway Books, 2005.
- Official website
- "Evangelical Author Puts Progressive Spin On Traditional Faith" (Washington Post, September 10, 2006)
- Video interview/discussion with Richard Land on Bloggingheads.tv
- Interview with Brian McLaren on "Finding Our Way Again" by ReadTheSpirit.com
- Interview with Brian McLaren on "A New Kind of Christianity" by ReadTheSpirit.com