The Beginnings of a Dissertation

After a few shifts in focus over the course of this week, a focus for the dissertation has risen to the top.  The study will identify common elements and differences in the areas of motivation, organization, and activities among case studies of leading missional churches.  Over the last 10 years, we have developed quite a theological framework for the missional church.  We also have practitioners who are doing things that we call missional church.  However, there is not much information on what all of this looks like.  The belief is that the study will help come closer to a functional definition of missional church.

There are some issues with the study, however.  First, if we are just finding a functional definition of missional church, how will the leading congregations be identified?  Second, if I want to focus in on United Methodist churches, how will I find the leaders in that area?  Third, contextualization of the gospel is central to the understanding of the missional church.  Can I suggest common themes in motivation, organization, and activities without that being a prescribed set?  In other words, can the study be true to its goal of finding common practices without becoming a program about replication of programs and processes?

Does any of this make sense?  Because after a few days with Verna Lowe, I think my head is about to explode!

You can take a look at a more technical summary here.

PS – This could change at any minute.  (But I really hope that it doesn’t!)


One Response to “The Beginnings of a Dissertation”

  1. Jay Akkerman Says:

    Dear Brian,

    Having been a 1998-1999 Beeson Pastor myself, I ran across your blog this morning and enjoyed an opportunity to relive some of my own experience through yours. Although the program has changed a lot since my year, it is still a wonderful opportunity to experience a living laboratory for ministry — congratulations!

    If I can ever be a resource to you with your dissertation, please let me know. I too have become very involved in the Emergent church movement, and I now lead a fully online graduate program at Northwest Nazarene University on Missional Leadership.

    Blessings on you in your studies. Give my best to Ellsworth Kalas if you ever see him!


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