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