Missions--Theory

From puffs of dust to pockets of grace : the present-future of RCA Global Mission

Author
John Paul Sundararajan
Abstract
RCA Global Mission has been the prophetic voice on the forefront of changing tides around the world, and in many cases, helped usher in change in global missions and missiology. RCA Global Mission has been the glue that held the denomination together through the chasms and disagreements that divided us. RCA Global Mission has been the rallying point for the denomination through its various ups and downs through history here in North America.

Unfortunately, the denomination is engaged in another period of division, and RCA Global Mission is faced with questions of survival and stagnation at a time when the denomination needs a bold new vision from its historic mission agency. This project offers a case for how RCA Global Mission can be an agent and participant in God’s mission of healing for the RCA over the next 10 years.

Mission in Japan using Japanese mythology and the Bible : a guide to cross-cultural pastoral care

Author
Wayne Jansen
Abstract
This project is designed to provide missionaries to Japan with information needed to carry out cross-cultural pastoral care effectively by looking to ancient Japanese scriptures for meaning, and comparing selected narratives to those in the Bible containing parallel themes and motifs.

Chapter One, the Introduction, explains the cultural milieu in which the Western missionary finds him/herself.

Chapter Two introduces six chosen "subjects," including clients, patients, and professionals who have been chosen as case studies upon which the entire project is based, along with rationale for why they were chosen.

Chapter Three reveals what it means to live in Japan's strict hierarchical society, and how the Japanese cope with and effectively use the system to succeed.

Chapter Four demonstrates how important and necessary it is for Japanese to understand how to blend and adapt to their surroundings in order to be successful.

Chapter Five pursues the question of what exactly the religious soul of the Japanese is, and how the missionary is to understand his/her clients in order to meet their needs.

Chapter Six illustrates where the Japanese church stands today on various issues, and provides missionaries with information to help them understand their colleagues better, and to function appropriately in the Japanese setting.

The Epilogue touches on the project's limitations, and suggests possibilities for further followup studies.

This project shows that knowing Japanese mythology is productive in the cross-cultural pastoral context both in providing tools for ministry to the missionary/pastor, and in applying pastoral care correctly to Japanese clients.

God’s story, our story : a narrative approach for discovery of congregational identity and purpose

Author
Steven E Slagel
Abstract
Many North American Mennonite churches live in a climate of confusion and anxiety struggling to understand who they are and why they exist. This project explores how a congregation’s self-understanding is shaped by stories they tell and live. The context for this project was my ministry leadership in three Mennonite congregations during pastor transitions. I started the project by researching ecclesiological themes of importance to these congregations: sixteenth-century Anabaptism, missional ecclesiology, and narrative theology. I crafted and implemented a process of engagement utilizing these themes allowing congregations to take steps toward discovering identity, purpose, and a hopeful future. I conducted ethnographic research and facilitated congregational interaction with their stories, ecclesiological themes, and the defining narrative of scripture. This resulted in a narrative summary, written identity, and purpose statement for each congregation. The outcome of this narrative approach for ecclesiological understanding is seen in the clear, hope-filled identity and purpose statements developed by these three Mennonite congregations.

Playing Christ : preaching and performing the drama of God’s mission

Author
Brian Robert Keepers
Abstract
In my survey of missional literature produced over the past ten years, I was struck by the minimal space given to (and often complete omission of) the role of preaching in the missional church conversation. In more extreme cases, preaching is regarded as “ineffective” and even an “impediment” to “going missional.” This greatly troubled me, especially since I am part of a Reformed tradition that affirms the ministry of Word and Sacrament as a primary means of grace by which the triune God missionizes us and forms us as a missional people. So I set out to explore the relationship between the Ministry of Word and Sacrament and the missio Dei, particularly interested in what kind of preaching cultivates a missional imagination among God’s people. I came to the conclusion that the kind of preaching that does this is that which draws people into the drama of the triune God’s mission, where our lives get re-scripted in Christ and we are transformed and empowered by the Spirit to improvise our parts (“play Christ”) to the glory of God and for the sake of the world. I then set out to identify key characteristics of missonal preaching toward this end. In addition, I was curious as to which of these key characteristics were most present and most absent in my own sermons and how I might increase my capacity to incorporate them in my regular practice of missional preaching.

Worship as public truth : toward a liturgical-missional ecclesiology for evangelical congregational leaders

Author
Anthony James Stiff
Abstract

This Final Project is focused on helping Evangelical congregational leaders move toward embracing a liturgical-missional ecclesiology. I contend that many Evangelicals have embraced only part of what it means to be missional. They are missing one of the essential practices of Lesslie Newbigin’s original vision of missional ecclesiology, the practice of liturgical worship. In order to help Evangelical congregational leaders embrace liturgy I have chosen to draw heavily upon the practical theology method of Richard Osmer. Osmer uses four tasks in his approach to practical theology, which can be arranged in a variety of ways. I begin with the interpretive task, then I move to the normative task, then I move to the descriptive-empirical task, and I conclude with the pragmatic task. In the interpretive task I explore theories from social sciences that argue that human identity is shaped through corporate narratives. I make the observation that corporate narratives can have a liturgical quality to them. In the normative task I explore concepts from Scripture and church history that can encourage Evangelicals to embrace a liturgical-missional ecclesiology. To do this I look at Paul’s narrative ethics in Philippians 2:5-11 and at Lesslie Newbigin’s reflections on liturgy and mission. I also offer some ‘good practices’ that have come out of liturgical-missional conversations in North America. In the descriptive-empirical task I use the case study method to explore the practices of four different Evangelical churches that have embraced liturgical-missional ecclesiology. Finally, in the pragmatic task I offer Evangelical congregational leaders a tool (a guidebook) to facilitate critical reflection on the missiological value of worship. In the preface and postscript I place this project into critical dialogue with the wider question of Lesslie Newbigin’s continuing legacy for the western church.

Revealing the Unknown God: Acts 17:16-34 as Luke’s Paradigm for Evangelism in a Biblically Illiterate Culture

Author
Timothy Paul Wilson M.A.
Abstract
This dissertation suggests that Acts 17:16-34 is intended by Luke as a paradigm for evangelism among the biblically illiterate and seeks to identify the methodology that is set forward as a paradigm. In the first section, two arguments against seeing Acts 17:16-34 as a Lucan paradigm are examined. Chapter two examines the arguments of those who claim that this speech is in no way an example of Pauline preaching but is rather the work of Luke or some later redactor. It is argued that there are no ultimately persuasive reasons to accept this view of the reliability of the speech. Chapter three presents the ideas of those who believe that the speech was a failure on the basis of issues such as the small number of converts and insights from the early Chapters of 1 Corinthians. These commentators believe Paul later repented of the approach he took at Athens. Again the essay examines these arguments and ultimately concludes that there is no reason to see the speech as anything other than successful. Section two asks what example Acts 17:16-34 sets for readers. Commentators have differed over their understanding of what Paul is doing here. Some argue that the speech represents a work of assimilation with Greek philosophy, others a critique of Greek idolatry and other groups some combination of the two. This essay will argue for a contextualised critique methodology. It sees critique as Paul’s primary purpose in the speech but acknowledges the way that his message is contextualised to be understandable to his hearers.

HOLY LISTENING: CREATING NEW PRACTICES OF MISSION BY EXTENDING PASTORAL CARE BEYOND THE WALLS OF THE CHURCH

Author
Caitlin Thomas Deyerle D.Min.
Abstract
With a goal of developing a new practice of mission to address the disconnect between a congregation and its surrounding community and engage the historical and ongoing limitations of mission practices, this project sought to engage the skills of pastoral care to create a relational focused practice of holy listening. A five-week Lenten Listening program was developed to cultivate this practice and use it to create a deeper partnership with local educators. The evaluation methods used were a survey of the congregational participants before and after the program, and in-person interviews with the educators following the program. The project addresses racial and socioeconomic differences between church and community as a primary barrier to mission partnership.

Outward Focused Church Cultural Shifts Leading to Missional Outcomes

Author
Rodger Woodworth
Abstract
The thesis of this project proposed that an inward focus prevented members of an established congregation from having authentic relationships or significant conversations of eternal matters with those outside the walls of the church. Thenographic information concerning internal and external challenges was gained through questionnaires and interviews. The study proceeded to examine biblical and theological foundations for an outward focus, re-envisioning a missional church culture, educated and equipped members through outward focused gatherings, and encouragement with unchurched people in the community by means of a common passion, to develop authentic, mutual relationships of trust and influence.

Parking Lot Evangelism

Author
Jarrell P Jones
Abstract
The thesis of the Parking Lot Evangelism project was that if committed Christians can competently present the gospel, address urgently felt needs of unsaved neighbors, and cultivate loving relationships with them, then it is likely they will communicate the gospel to them. The project involved recruiting a team, training the team in evangelism, identifying and meeting community needs, building relationships with unsaved persons in the church's neighborhood, and presenting the gospel as opporunity arose. By the conclusion of the project, the team members had met many needs, built significant relationships, and shared the gospel with persons who needed to hear it.

Cultivating missional leadership through adapting the class meetings (centered on the Jeju JungAng Korean Methodist Church)

Author
Lewis A Parks
Abstract
Jeju JungAng Korean Methodist Church confronted with the challenges in the transformation of the church related to rapid changes of society. These challenges created many conflicts within the congregation. In order to solve the problem at hand, the author researched the implications of missional ecclesiology for leadership through adapting the Wesleyan class meetings. The author formed and led a six weeks "Class Leadership Training (CLT)" for the leadership that rose up in them would be able to move the entire congregation toward a more a missional response to its changing context. The author conducted surveys before and after CLT for understanding how the CLT helped the leadership change their mind.
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