Mission of the church

Rooted and reaching : liturgically formed for mission

Author
Miriam A. Barnes
Abstract
This is a project about Second Reformed Church in Zeeland, Michigan at the intersection of missiology, ecclesiology, and leadership—the three main subjects of the cohort, Leading with God Ahead of Us. This project explores the liturgy of Second Church as a dynamic influence on the church in mission. The rhythms of our weekly Sunday morning liturgy are formative for the people of Second Reformed Church. Not only are people rooted and grounded in God’s presence through Word and Sacrament, but they are also sent out from worship to engage specific places in God’s world using their gifts and passions to serve others.

The practice of ethnography reveals the ways the liturgy challenges, confirms, and inspires the people of Second Church to engage in mission. The liturgy of Second Reformed Church provides a framework for that service and engagement, whether at home, work, serving on a non-profit board, direct community service, or financial generosity.

The connection between liturgy and mission is not new for Second Reformed Church, yet this focus comes at a critical moment in Second’s story. The building project (completed in 2018) included vision for a different kind of community engagement that we have not yet embraced due to a pastoral crisis followed by a global pandemic. In this season of re-emerging from a global pandemic, Second is poised to explore critical questions around mission. By shaping a house of language around mission, this project demonstrates how liturgy helps Second Church to be “rooted and reaching” in Zeeland and beyond.

Preaching Stewardship to Encourage Growth in Missional Outreach in a Small Urban Church

Author
Jeryl Salmond
Abstract
Like so many other congregations, small churches are suffering from declining membership, and many have closed their doors. This decline has caused many pastors to be concerned about their ability to survive. As a consequence, churches have focused on survival tactics which result in an inward focused church in order to safeguard their limited resources. This inward focus minimizes missional ministry and ignores the pain and brokenness of people in the community that surrounds the church. This issue is particularly impactful in the urban context, where social challenges are prevalent and evidenced by the visible amount of homelessness, hunger, and poverty in the community. This thesis investigates the utilization of preaching stewardship to encourage growth in missional outreach in a small urban church. The preacher must be intentional about developing and delivering sermons that demonstrate the symmetry between stewardship and outreach ministry. This project focused on a small urban church and seeks to demonstrate that preaching stewardship is influential in encouraging growth in missional outreach to offset the needs of the community beyond the church.

Praxis of Acompañamiento to the Pueblo Creyente Towards an Inclusive, Liberative, and Decolonized Pastoral Model as a Gift to the Universal Church

Author
Elia S Cardenas D.Min.
Abstract
There is an inculturated, integrative, liberative, and decolonized model of church in the highlands of Chiapas. This Diocese in an autochthonous church developed by the prophetic vision of Bishop Samuel Ruiz, who knew how to read the signs of the times, was inspired by the vision of the Vatican Second Council, the Medellin Conference in Latin America, and the Church’s preferential option for the poor. He succeeded in restoring the dignity to the indigenous people with his subversive praxis and helped them become subjects of their own destiny. Today, they still walk accompanied by the courageous pastoral team of San Cristobal de las Casas.

Dwelling in the Word and in the World: Missional Engagement Through Storytelling

Author
John Foster Magnuson D.Min.
Abstract
The practice of Church mission engagement within a culture of specialization, individuality, and volunteerism has created the opportunity for the North American Protestant church to narrate mission through an identity and story of the individual. However, through the practice of reading scripture and reflecting alongside storytelling, a more robust missional identity can be found within the church. This identity through storytelling moves from viewing church members as an autonomous individual into seeing both church members and neighbors as necessary members of community, together participating in God’s mission in the world through companionship with God and one another. This work moves from a historical background of mission work within a local congregation to then explore the theological basis for connecting storytelling alongside biblical engagement in congregational mission. As a result of the project, a tool for missional story telling through scripture is presented to the reader.

Re-imagining the Church through a missional life

Author
Mark E Mast
Abstract
For years I watched the missional movement unfold. From theological conversation to a spattering of writers around the world beginning to explore what the missional church might look like in the local church, I found few tools for the leaders of the local Christian communities to help people j oin this movement in practical ways. As I began to work in my own congregation trying to help the church move outward into the neighborhood, I realized the need to provide a resource to not change a church, but help followers of Jesus Christ begin exploring a missional life. Through the process of community storytelling, the foll owing project provides a path, through a Bible study format, for an individual and the Christian community to discover their personal God story, God's story, and the story of their neighborhoods. Where these stories overlap becomes a place for both the individual and their Christian community to start moving from "doing" the work of a missional church to living a missional life with Jesus Christ.

Being led by the Holy Spirit, the journey begins in the waters of Ezekiel 47:1-12 as individuals and communities discovers the different depths of their God story. They then travel into their neighborhood through Matthew 5:3-12 discovering where Jesus Christ is already at work in the emerging reign of God. Finally, through the exploration of 2 Corinthians 4, both the individual and community discover the life they are called to live as missionaries in their own land. I have spent the past years walking through this process in the lives of both individuals and communities to discover a practical means to move people out of the pews of their church into a life of joining Jesus Christ in the emerging reign of God.

The missional heritage of the people called Methodist : the story of five Iowa United Methodist congregations on a reclamation journey

Author
Jill Sanders
Abstract
According to the Council of Bishops of the United Methodist Church, we face an unprecedented moment in our history. In the United States, church membership, worship attendance and the number of baptisms continue to decline, funding for connectional ministries continues to decline and grows weaker in the current economic crisis; and the "warm heart" of John Wesley's movement has become a "contented heart" of institutional inertia; and the 1970's organization and structure we live with is not sufficient, nimble or responsive to the fast changing 21st Century world we inhabit.

The missional heritage of the people called Methodist offers clues to a way forward for United Methodists who long to be part of a missional movement once again. Although John Wesley would not have recognized the term "missional" in the way it is understood today, he instinctively shaped his movement around the development of missional identity (accountable discipleship in community) and missional engagement with those on the periphery of society (submitting to become more vile). Perhaps by reclaiming those early impulses and shaping them for relevance in the 21st century, United Methodist congregations can reclaim their missional heritage and break the institutional inertia that keeps them operating under the assumptions of Christendom.

Storyliving : a faith-in-action experiment in cultivating a community's missional imagination

Author
Kurt Andrew Jensen
Abstract

This project explores a process for cultivating a community’s missional imagination, using an adaptation of the Circle of Faith-in-Action by Jerry Windley-Daoust and Lorraine Kilmartin.1 God chooses to use us as part of the divine mission to restore the world to what it was created to be. Local community leaders who meet regularly to discern what God is already doing in their community and world can find creative and faithful ways of participating in God’s redemptive mission. Moving repeatedly through the Circle of Faith-in-Action can help leaders develop greater Awareness of the people and situations around them, do practical and theological Analysis of what is happening, and respond through Action that not only meets short-term needs but addresses long-term development of health and flourishing in their communities. By the work of the Holy Spirit, their actions result in a new situation that bears developing new awareness and analysis, leading to further action for the sake of God’s reign. The Circle of Faith-in-Action becomes an upward spiral. As people are seized by the power of the gospel, they discover imaginative ways to engage with the reign of God which is already renewing our broken world, through Jesus Christ. They develop the ability to see the world not only as it is but as God is shaping it to become.

Preaching and missional engagement : indwelling the Word, performing the Word, engaging the World

Author
Jonathon P. Brown
Abstract
This project is an appreciative inquiry of a homiletical method that involves interiorizing Scripture for performance as it’s offered at Pillar Church leading to increased missional engagement within the congregation. Through conversations with members of the Pillar congregation, as well as reflections from other pastors who practice a similar homiletical method, there is evidence that this homiletical method influences congregational missional engagement. The process is long and requires patience, but the stories suggest there is a connection.
As this project unfolds, I do hope to demonstrate through the lives of some of the participants in Pillar’s life and worship that there is a relationship between indwelling the Word for the sermon and a congregation’s missional life. I intend to offer a homiletical vision rooted in the missionary work of Leslie Newbigin, and the pastoral work of Eugene Peterson. This vision is demonstrated in the church’s first sermon by the Apostle Peter at Pentecost. A homiletical vision that calls the preacher to indwell the story of God as it is given in Scripture and offered to the people of God such that the missional engagement of a congregation increases. I intend to offer a homiletical method congruent with this vision that engages Newbigin’s notion of indwelling the word and Peterson’s notion of the pastoral ministry. In this way it will bring into conversation two leading voices in different sectors of the Western church today who are often not recognized as calling the church to a similar vision. A consequent contribution of this project will be to identify and introduce a theological paradigm operative in both Newbigin and Peterson that neither clearly articulate as a pattern.

Strategic Planning for Congregational Unity

Author
Garrett J Ho D.Min.
Abstract
The purpose of this project is to lead a team in establishing a direction for the English Congregation of MBCLA and its leaders. Direction includes the identification of a present location, definition of a future destination, and coordinated effort to progress from the former to the latter. Pastoral staff and key ministry leaders will participate in strategic planning for one month to formulate the church’s mission, clarify its vision, and align its values. Traditionally, an organization’s vision represents its future destination alone. In the context of this project, all three elements are aspirational as they define where the church wants to be. The mission statement explains why the church exists, while the vision statement unites the congregation toward a desired future. Core values describe the character of the church. Subsequently, the definition of these elements will enable staff and ministry leaders to evaluate their current practices in ministry. In the two months that follow, these leaders will make initial efforts to move the church from its present location toward the future destination by focusing on the mission, contributing to the vision, and embodying the values within their ministry responsibilities.

Identificación de Factores Que Contribuyen al Crecimiento de ta Sede Hispanohablante del Modelo Multisitio de Grace Church, in Greenville, Carolina del Sur.

Author
Robby Richard D.Min.
Abstract
El objetivo de la presente investigación es identificar los factores, desde la perspectiva del liderazgo de la iglesia, que contribuyen al crecimiento de la sede hispanohablante de Grace Church, en Greenville, Carolina del Sur, EE. UU., y, por ende, que contribuyen al alcance de la comunidad hispanohablante en su contexto con el evangelio.

El modelo de iglesia multisitio está formado por congregaciones que se consideran parte de una misma iglesia local y se reúnen en diferentes lugares geográficos y espacios físicos. A pesar de que no cuenta con una larga trayectoria de años, ya ha evidenciado signos positivos de eficacia para el alcance evangelístico de diversas comunidades pluriculturales. Estas huellas de competencia del modelo se hacen visibles en resultados observables en la experiencia práctica de su aplicación y en datos disponibles en diversas fuentes.

La presente investigación reveló que los factores propuestos en las hipótesis formuladas son, en efecto, válidos. Además, aportó información valiosa sobre otras dos características específicas del ámbito organizacional y eclesial que fortalecen la relación entre la sede hispanohablante y la iglesia anglohablante. Estas constituyen la base esencial para la efectividad de los elementos propuestos en las hipótesis.

Para aquellas iglesias que deseen implementar el modelo multisitio, es recomendable tomar en cuenta el entorno demográfico donde se desea abrir una sede, las características propias del tipo de la comunidad eclesial que se desea, y los principios únicos que cimientan toda comunidad hispana.
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