Reimagining Congregational Leadership and Formation:
Renewed Practices for the Decolonization of Christian Witness
Application Deadline: April 1, 2022
The chief task of Christian congregations is to participate in the redemptive and liberating presence of God’s love by bearing witness to the gospel of Jesus Christ as a sign, embodiment, and foretaste of the divine reign. Tragically, the historical emergence of Christendom served to distort the dominant forms of witness in the church into an enterprise shaped more by the assumptions and intuitions of Empire and colonization rather than the proclamation and teaching of Jesus.
This cohort will explore the process of decolonizing Christian witness through reimagined forms of congregational leadership and formation, focusing on the renewal of three core practices of Christian faith: discipleship, evangelism, and worship. The work of the cohort will subject the common forms and assumptions of these practices to critical scrutiny and involve the substantial reform and renewal of each of them in the aftermath of Christendom, colonialization, modernity, and white supremacy. The goal of renewing decolonizing discipleship, evangelism, and worship is that the witness of communities that practice these reimagined forms of Christian faith might be more faithful to the reign of God proclaimed by Jesus and the realization of a world where everyone has enough and no one needs to be afraid.
DISCIPLESHIP (12 UNITS)
July 25-29, 2022
The first year introduces the central ideas of missional theology and the vocation of the church and applies them to the practice of discipleship. Biblically and theologically, we will develop the practice of discipleship in relation to the picture of the church as the image of God and its calling to follow in the way of Jesus and embody God’s reign on earth. Practically, the cohort will examine common assumptions and models of discipleship in relation to the mission of God. Reformation and renewal is necessary since Christendom and colonialism have shaped mainstream assumptions on discipleship. Of particular concern will be individualistic approaches to discipleship growing out of contractual political theory that views congregational engagement and commitment simply as an individual choice that often has a minimal role in the conversion of belief, behavior, and belonging in Christ. Alternative models of discipleship that move beyond merely individualistic models will be explored along with concrete processes and practices designed to support the development of these approaches in the life of the local congregation.
Evangelism (12 UNITS)
July 24-28, 2023
The second year builds on the first and applies the ideas of missional theology and the vocation of the church to the practice of evangelism. Biblically and theologically, we will develop the practice of evangelism in relation to the picture of the church as the Body of Christ and its calling to be an instrument and manifestation of God’s reign on earth. Practically, the cohort will examine and critique common notions of evangelism built around the proclamation of a set of ideas that we simply believe. We will expand the practice of evangelism to include the church’s public witness through doing grassroots social and economic justice as well as truly proclaiming good news. The cohort will also give attention to the role of the congregation as God’s sent people in the work of establishing God’s dream for the earth and all creation and in so doing we will subject classic notions of salvation to critical scrutiny. In addition, we will examine various models and approaches of this more expansive understanding of evangelism as well as formative practices designed to promote and establish a faithful congregational witness in society.
Worship (12 UNITS)
July 29 - August 2, 2024
The third year builds on the first two and applies the ideas of missional theology and the vocation of the church to the practice of worship. Biblically and theologically, we will develop the practice of worship in relation to the picture of the church as the dwelling place of the Spirit and our calling to reorganize our lives in awareness of the preeminence of Christ and in awe of the loving and liberating presence of God. Practically, the cohort will examine and scrutinize standard notions of worship and its role in the life of the church from the perspective of the God encountered through the Spirit in scripture, ecclesial traditions, and diverse experiences. We will conceive of worship as an integral expression of the mission of the church rather than as a discrete activity separate that mission. In worship, the congregation enacts and exhibits a provisional demonstration of God’s determined intentions for creation as a foretaste of the world intended by God—a world where everyone has enough and no one needs to be afraid. The cohort will explore models for the reimagination of worship along these lines and develop specific liturgical practices in support of these models.
Years Four and Five
DOCTORAL PROJECT PHASE (12 UNITS)
- 4-unit elective (independent study or elective from Course Schedule)
- DM710: doctoral project proposal online 10-week course (2 units)
- DM706: doctoral project writing course (6 units)
- 60- and 64-unit students will need to take an additional 12 or 16 units of coursework. Please see the main DMin webpage for more information, or contact the DMin office at email@example.com.
John R. Franke is theologian in residence at Second Presbyterian Church in Indianapolis, affiliate professor of theology at Christian Theological Seminary, and general coordinator for the Gospel and Our Culture Network in North America. He holds the DPhil degree from the University of Oxford and is particularly interested in the formation of individuals and congregations for missional Christian witness. The author of over one hundred articles, reviews, and book chapters as well as numerous books including Manifold Witness: The Plurality of Truth (Abingdon) and Missional Theology: An Introduction (Baker Academic), he has spoken on the relationships between the gospel, church, and culture throughout the U.S. and around the world. His work has been translated into seven languages and he is the editor of two academic book series, The Gospel and Our Culture Series (Eerdmans) and Missiological Engagements: Church, Theology and Culture in Global Contexts (InterVarsity Academic).
Drew G.I. Hart is an assistant professor of theology at Messiah University and he has 10 years of pastoral experience. He is Director of Messiah University's Thriving Together: Congregations for Racial Justice program and co-host of Inverse Podcast. Hart is the author of Trouble I've Seen: Changing the Way the Church Views Racism and Who Will Be A Witness?: Igniting Activism for God's Justice, Love, and Deliverance. He was the recipient of bcmPEACE’s 2017 Peacemaker Award, the 2019 W.E.B. Du Bois Award in Harrisburg, PA, and was Elizabethtown College’s 2019 Peace Fellow. Drew and his family live in Harrisburg, PA.
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