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Full-Text Articles in Religion

Using Appreciative Inquiry As A Tool For Congregational Change, Jason W. Locke Sep 2018

Using Appreciative Inquiry As A Tool For Congregational Change, Jason W. Locke

Discernment: Theology and the Practice of Ministry

Successful navigation of congregational change is difficult. Churches face numerous technical and adaptive challenges. While leaders can often guide their churches through technical change with logic, negotiation and even force, adaptive change requires a deeper form of reprogramming and congregational discernment. The College Church of Christ, having been in decline for nearly two decades, went through an intensive process of appreciative inquiry to elicit data that might fund a new, life-giving narrative. This article discusses that process and challenges that arose in moving on to next steps.


Missional Partnership: Reframing The Concept Of “Placing Membership”, Steve Cloer Sep 2018

Missional Partnership: Reframing The Concept Of “Placing Membership”, Steve Cloer

Discernment: Theology and the Practice of Ministry

This essay reframes the process of “placing membership” in a local church with the theological concept of missional partnership. A critical review is offered of the organizational procedure of “placing membership,” its underlying theoretical assumptions, and its deficient theological vision. Then, the practice of joining a local Christian community is reimagined in a missional ecclesiology focusing on the key theological strands of spiritual accountability and equipping for mission. The biblical metaphor of “partner in the gospel” is explored as an alternative to “membership” as a way to adequately communicate what joining, entering, and participating within a church on mission entails ...


A Reader's Guide To Intergenerational Ministry And Faith Formation, Dudley Chancey, Ron Bruner Dec 2017

A Reader's Guide To Intergenerational Ministry And Faith Formation, Dudley Chancey, Ron Bruner

Discernment: Theology and the Practice of Ministry

The concept of intergenerational ministry and faith formation has gained an increasing number of proponents over the last thirty years. Because of the burgeoning literature produced in this field, we have assembled an annotated bibliography intended to give practitioners and church members an overview of the printed work that addresses this important approach to ministry and spiritual formation.


Shared Leadership In Congregations: How To Construct A Holding Environment To Do Adaptive Work, Zach Ellis Dec 2017

Shared Leadership In Congregations: How To Construct A Holding Environment To Do Adaptive Work, Zach Ellis

Discernment: Theology and the Practice of Ministry

Many congregations struggle to adapt to changes in their environment. Congregational and pastoral leadership is an important factor in a congregation’s success or failure. The emerging practice of Shared Leadership offers congregational leaders one tool that might help them successfully engage in the adaptive work necessary in the face of a changing environment. Recent research has connected the practice of Shared Leadership to increased innovation in businesses. This form of leadership should be explored as a model for congregations as they engage in adaptive change. However, because it is adaptive change that is required, and not only technical change ...


Ignatius: A Guide For Congregational Discernment, Benjamin Gensic May 2017

Ignatius: A Guide For Congregational Discernment, Benjamin Gensic

Discernment: Theology and the Practice of Ministry

Congregations find themselves living in transformative times, but transformation is often an act of subtraction, which means congregations find themselves living in anxious times as well. Within this context, it is tempting for congregations to base decisions on either financial constraint or political expediency. However, such superficial discernment is incapable of guiding congregations wishing to respond to God’s activity in the world. This author argues that Ignatius of Loyola provides congregations with an alternative.

To accomplish this, the author walks the reader through the basic principles of Ignatian spirituality and discernment, making suggestions for how these can impact congregational ...


The Minister-Elder Relationship Within “Churches That Work”, Steve Cloer Dec 2016

The Minister-Elder Relationship Within “Churches That Work”, Steve Cloer

Discernment: Theology and the Practice of Ministry

This essay is the summary of a research project focused on how the minister-elder relationship in Churches of Christ can facilitate missional transformation in an established church. Twenty-five reputable congregations of Churches of Christ were researched that were profiled as “Churches That Work” by The Christian Chronicle from 2006-2013. A survey was conducted of these congregations’ elders and ministers assessing their leadership practices and perspectives. Four congregations were selected based on results of the survey and qualitative strategies of interviewing, focus groups, observation, and document gathering were used. Five patterns of a missional polity developed: elders as nurturing pastors, ministers ...


Churches Of Christ, Spiritual Formation, And The Liturgical Christian Calendar, Wes Horn Dec 2015

Churches Of Christ, Spiritual Formation, And The Liturgical Christian Calendar, Wes Horn

Discernment: Theology and the Practice of Ministry

For many Christian traditions, participation in the liturgical year does not seem remarkable; in fact, it is second nature being the form, or liturgy, through which congregational members grew up practicing their faith. However, for those Christian traditions, like the Churches of Christ, who have avoided the liturgical year, the inclusion of liturgical practices is a substantial deviation in worship theology, practice, and comfort.

This article recounts one congregation’s journey through the liturgical calendar as a test case for a Doctor of Ministry project. The thesis questioned whether the introduction of the liturgical Christian calendar into the worship life ...


The Initiation Of Growth-Focused Relationships Involving Healthy Accountability, Stephen L. Shaffer Oct 2015

The Initiation Of Growth-Focused Relationships Involving Healthy Accountability, Stephen L. Shaffer

Discernment: Theology and the Practice of Ministry

This paper summarizes a Doctor of Ministry project thesis conducted in 2011 that introduced healthy accountability within growth-focused relationships to shape an emergent spiritual growth culture at the Carbondale Church of Christ. The theological basis for the intervention (1) uses Romans 12 to establish the Christian community, not the individual, as the ultimate vision of fully realized human life and (2) asserts that spiritual growth, following Alasdair MacIntyre’s definition of a practice, must involve virtues such that the means of growth are reflective of the desired ends of growth. The positive results demonstrate the effectiveness of healthy accountability, illuminate ...