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 (Zondervan, 1998)
- Finding Faith (Zondervan, 1999)
- A New Kind of Christian (Jossey-Bass, 2001)
- More Ready Than You Realize: Evangelism as Dance in the Postmodern Matrix (Zondervan, 2002)
- A Is for Abductive (Zondervan, 2002)
- Adventures in Missing the Point (Emergent/YS, 2003, co-written with Tony Campolo)
- Church in Emerging Culture: Five Perspectives (Zondervan Emergent/YS, 2003) Leonard Sweet (General Editor), with contributors Andy Crouch, Brian D. McLaren, Erwin McManus, Michael Horton, Frederica Mathewes-Green
- The Story We Find Ourselves In (Jossey-Bass, 2003)
- 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, 2004)
- The Last Word and the Word After That (Jossey-Bass, 2005)
- The New Kind of Christian Trilogy - Limited Edition Boxed Set (A New Kind of Christian; The Story We Find Ourselves In; The Last Word and the Word After That) (Jossey-Bass, 2005)
- The Secret Message of Jesus : Uncovering the Truth that Could Change Everything (W Publishing Group, April 2006)
- The Voice of Luke: Not Even Sandals (The Voice) (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)
- "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 Magazine. 2005-02-07.
- "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". 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.
- BrianMcLaren.net - official Brian McLaren 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