Culture and Christianity

CAN YOU HEAR ME NOW? EFFECTIVE PREACHING IN A POST-CHURCH CULTURE

Author
Randall Dean Ahlberg D.Min.
Abstract
This project addressed the need for preaching principles that more effectively communicate to those living in the realities of our current cultural. In examining the sermons of the apostle Paul, it was evident that he significantly contextualized his message to his various audiences, demonstrating for all preachers the need to engage in not only good exegesis of the text but in good exegesis of the audience. The researcher attempted to gain a better understanding of the culture of the community surrounding his church in Andover, Minnesota and ways to communicate clearly to this culture. The primary tool used was a survey conducted at a community festival on church property. The survey was designed to measure the level of biblical knowledge of the participants and also to investigate the relationship between church attendance and the demonstrated levels of biblical knowledge. The assumption of the researcher was that preachers often assume their congregations know more than they do, and this assumption was proven to hold merit. Finally, in assessing the above information, a set of homiletical principles were developed that embrace both a commitment to biblical preaching and an awareness of the realities of post-church American culture. One of the conclusions of the author is that a neglected aspect of homiletics is our need to wrestle through the striking differences between oral and written communication styles. The preacher’s preparation must keep these dynamics in mind if he/she hopes to communicate the timeless truths of the Bible to a time-bound audience.

The Role of the Roman Catholic Catechists in Shaping Adolescents Equipped to Address De-Womanization in Igbo Culture of Nigeria

Author
VIRGINUS Onyekachi OSUAGWU D.Min.
Abstract
This thesis-project explores to what extent the effective training/formation in transformative catechesis for Roman Catholic catechists of South Eastern Nigeria can equip them to form male and female adolescents who can contribute to building respect and upholding the dignity of Igbo women. It is intended to be a contribution to the conversation about social justice in the Igbo Roman Catholic Church, with regard to respecting the dignity of every human being, especially women.
The author employs the praxis-theory-praxis approach of practical theology in situating what effective social justice training/formation of Igbo catechists could mean within their unique ecclesial, social and cultural contexts around the theme of discipleship. The author concludes that effective training/formation of Igbo catechists in transformative catechesis (discipleship, witnessing, social justice) is key to the transformation of Igbo adolescents, the Igbo Roman Catholic Church and ultimately, the Igbo culture.

A Quest for Koinonia: Uncovering Spiritual Practices that Inspire and Promote Unity among Christians within a Contemporary Campus Setting

Author
Diane Reneé Schmit Dardón D.Min.
Abstract
The quest for koinonia among Christians on college and university campuses -- and specifically at DePaul University in Chicago -- is at the heart of this thesis-project. Like so many campus settings throughout the United States, the Christian community at DePaul is complicated, diverse, and marked distinctly by distrust, skepticism, and conflict between Christian students and between Christian groups on campus. This thesis-project posits that spiritual practices inherent in the Body of Christ might encourage and inspire Christian unity on campus. Spiritual practices that emerge through explorations of the experiences and hopes of college students, major global ecumenical movements, and early followers of Christ in Corinth will be considered as a means for developing a pastoral response to the issue of conflict and dissension among Christians on campus and beyond. A brief foray into faith developmental theory, Millennial and post-Millennial generational studies, and ethnocentricity also provide helpful insights. The Practical Theology method and model developed by Evelyn and James Whitehead guide this thesis-project as the work strives to shed light on ways in which koinonia might be realized among Christians within a contemporary higher education setting.

Identity formation in diverse churches

Author
Irwyn L. Ince Jr.
Abstract
The Bible indicates that God intends for his church to represent humanity’s diversity. This representation is not expected simply in a global sense, but also as the church gathers in local diverse communities. This diversity benefits the church. Yet, American churches are overwhelmingly mono-ethnic. Since the church is so influential in forming its members’ identities, is the lack of diversity within most American churches detrimental to full identity formation in Christ? What are the benefits to identity formation when the church is healthy in diversity? The purpose of this study was to explore how people who experience belonging in a diverse church assess the impact the church has on their identity formation.

Mmanwu Ritual In Igboland: Lessons and Implications for Inculturation and Christian-Muslim Dialogue in Nigeria.

Author
Peter Elochukwu Muojekwu Rev. Fr. D.Min.
Abstract
Although “inculturation” is a relatively new term in the long history of Christian theology, it’s roots are found in the mission of Jesus Christ himself. Despite the many important complexities and nuances of sophisticated theologies of inculturation, what it refers to is simply an ideal for how the Gospel of Jesus Christ transforms the human family. It refers to a mode of evangelization by which specific cultures avails themselves to the Church, and the Church to specific cultures, for a mutually enriching dialogue in which nothing that is truly good and holy is at lost. Unfortunately, the history of Christianity is littered with the tragic results of various processes of confrontation and domination (particularly of the colonial sort) masquerading as evangelization, but actually profoundly at odds with the inculturative model of Christ. Far from providing for a holistic and authentically “holy” union of universal Gospel and local culture, these processes have created what, in many instances, have been unnecessary rifts and even hostilities between what is perceived as “Gospel” and what is perceived as “culture.”
This thesis project is aimed at exploring the phenomenon of Mmanwu, an indigenous Igbo religious institution which has for centuries been at the center of what might be referred to as one of the many examples of both the misadventures of inculturation gone wrong in Nigeria and the pregnant possibilities of inculturation done properly. Because questions about inculturation with respect to Mmanwu are inherently interreligious, the thesis will conclude by attempting to apply some of the lessons from the questions around Mmanwu and inculturation to yet another important locus of inculturation in Nigeria: Christian-Muslim dialogue

Reconsidering Calvin Bringing the Arts into Reformed Worship

Author
Amy W Parker
Abstract
Reformer John Calvin is widely considered to be the epitome of the "anti-art in worship" Reformers, yet when his writings and work in Geneva were revisited by the author, five principles of a Reformed liturgical aesthetic became discernable: liturgical art should be biblically based, in the vernacular/contextual, and participatory; it should embody simplicity, and should avoid images of the divine. Applying these principles and the practice of worship curation, the author led the staff and members at Village Chapel Presbyterian Church in planning two seasonal series that intentionally integrated various arts into their traditional Reformed worship services.

Intercultural Competency Offering an alternate leadership tool that shifts congregations from a mono-cultural model of church to an adaptive, intercultural congregation that integrates more new people, younger people and more diverse people

Author
Stephen E Handy
Abstract
The author considered whether the people of God could emerge from a historical and homogeneous congregation to become an intercultural congregation. While many tools are emerging to awaken congregations to the reality of gentrifying areas in urban communities, this project includes the impact of the theological and the sociological to develop intercultural competent leaders. Intercultural competency is one of the leadership tools that offer a greater awareness of the contextual and cultural realities of people, practices and behaviors. Intercultural competency can serve as an intervention of hope in the life of the church. Those intercultural and adaptive leaders can become a missional force of Jesus Christ while creating a discipleship path connecting with more people, young people and more diverse people for the sake of the gospel.

Finding unity in diversity the use of appreciative inquiry to cultivate common ground among leaders in a multi-congregational Chinese church in Canada

Author
Josephine Suk Chow
Abstract
A large Chinese church in Toronto with multiple congregations speaking different languages used an Appreciative Inquiry to engage leaders to identify commonalities among themselves and to discover their church DNA through interviews, practice of listening, use of storytelling and conversations. The inquiry built on the common ground for unity, offered an experience of cohesion for the leaders, facilitated relationship building and unveiled a story of their church in new light. It showed that Appreciative Inquiry can be an effective means for crossing sub-group boundaries and intercultural barriers. It can be an invaluable and helpful tool for use in churches.
Subscribe to Culture and Christianity