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Churches Seeking the Shalom of the CityIn this research, I explore the calling of four selected churches seeking the shalom of their cities. The argument is made for churches to seek the shalom of their cities, and the findings provide practical tools to help them do so. The questions What is shalom? and Why the city? are first answered through a thorough review of the precedent literature. The answers to those questions paint a vivid picture of why seeking the shalom of the city matters biblically and practically in our world today. As the founder of a church that is seeking the shalom of our city in Benton Harbor, Michigan, I am also a participant observer. My desire to research and write on seeking the shalom of the city has grown through years of serving as a practitioner who has been hungry to learn and apply anything related to the subject that would help our ministry and city. Over the years, I have found very little in academia and mainstream work around seeking the shalom of the city. Shalom is complex, as is the city. The work of this research has sought to provide simplicity and clarity for those churches that would like to seek the shalom of their cities. The focus of the research with the four selected churches involved the key leadership in each locale as defined and invited by the senior leader. The leaders were as diverse in age, ethnicity, and backgrounds as the cities in which I did the research. The churches were also each very different from one another in size, age, and approach to seeking the shalom of their cities. As a result, the paradigms, principles, and practices (personal and group) that are identified emerge from a rich cross section of people, places, and data. The goal of this work is to serve as a witness and a practical application guide to a very bright future for churches that have been called to seek the shalom of their cities. Seeking the shalom of the city will lead to meaningful and transformational ministry for many churches in the years ahead. The paradigms, principles, and practices outlined in this research will chart a new course for relevant city ministry in the twenty-first century.
Toward Native Tentmaking: The Impact of Social, Economic, Business, and Ministry Factors on Indigenous TentmakersThis study examines tentmaking as it applies to indigenous Christian workers. It examines several tentmaking models and considers the place of native tentmakers as distinct from traditional cross-cultural tentmaking. In addition, this study addresses the practice of tentmaking from biblical and historical perspectives. It studies the strategic business elements which impact native tentmakers from social, economic, business, and ministry perspectives. A key element of focus is the support systems that tentmakers need as entrepreneurs and business people. This study uses interviews, mini focus groups, and participant observation to collect field data from twenty-six undergraduate-level master trainers and ten grassroots-level Christian workers trained at the Training in Evangelism Needs and Technology (TENT) ministry. It evaluates the factors that affect the TENT trainees in the state of Odisha, India as they work as native tentmakers. TENT trainees are primarily called to ministry, however, the need to support their families, provide for their children’s education, and other expenses motivate Christian workers to take up microbusinesses. Families, community members, and other ministry leaders provide needed moral support, as well as critical resources such as financial capital, labor, and sometimes technical expertise. The financial capital needed to start and sustain a business was not found in banks, but came from families and self-help groups. To achieve a sustainable business, a tentmaker needs to have both a vison and business plan, but most tentmakers lack training in market research and business planning. Tentmaking provides a channel of opportunities for ministry and community engagement which increase the tentmakers credible witness for the gospel. Though most tentmakers struggle to keep a balance between ministry and business, this is addressed through the help of family members, participation in self-help groups, and community business partners. This study evaluates the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats in TENT’s training programs. It proposes changes in the curriculum for TENT training and describes a process of change. These changes will enhance the quality of training and strengthen the TENT trainees to be effective native tentmakers.
Postcolonial Cultural Hybridity and the Influence of the Gospel in Transnational French-Speaking NetworksA central feature of Christianity is the observable historical fact that the gospel of Jesus travels across cultural and geographic boundaries, influencing and transforming each new culture and place it touches. Postcolonial migration, urbanization, and the simultaneous development of global communication and transportation technologies have radically increased the frequency and duration of cross-cultural contact worldwide. This study explores hybrid identity construction in a multicultural church in the Paris Region in order to understand the influence of the gospel within transnational French-speaking networks. I found that French hegemony, historically rooted in the colonial project, contributes both to the cohesion of multicultural churches and to the cross-cultural spread of the gospel within French-speaking networks. Cultural hybrids serve as bridge people within transcultural, transnational, French-speaking networks. They maintain identities and social networks on both sides of given cultural, linguistic, geographic, and national frontiers. Unique hybrid identities offer equally unique opportunities to influence for Christ on both sides of a given boundary. Cultural hybridity can be a privileged in-between space where the distinct nature of Christian faith becomes manifest. When observing one’s original culture as an outsider and taking on a new culture as an insider, both cultures are relativized. This critical posture unmasks totalistic ideologies and sends the cultural hybrid in search of a coherent identity, which participants found in Christ and his church. While transnational French-speaking networks and cultural hybridity contribute providentially to the spread of the gospel, they can also be pursued as strategic resources for the mission enterprise. Transnational French-speaking social links can be intentionally followed across missional boundaries. These networks take many forms, each pregnant with unique opportunities. Cultural hybrids can lead strategically between diverse peoples for specific missional purposes within transcultural and transnational French-speaking networks. Hybrid leadership stands on a two-way bridge, bringing diverse peoples across in both directions for reconciliation, for cross-cultural collaboration, and to announce the good news where Jesus is not yet known.
Godly Grit: A Practical, Research-Driven Framework for Strengthening Ministry PerseveranceThis dissertation leverages grounded theory research methods to demonstrate the factors that most significantly contribute to perseverance in the work of ministry. It then outlines a practical framework based upon this research to strengthen those factors. Part I of this study demonstrates from the literature that a pastor’s cultural environment and pastoral health may impact ministry perseverance. Discerning the true impact of these factors required localized field research, which was conducted within New York’s Adirondack Mountain region. Part II describes how a combination of semi-structured, active interviews and an anonymous survey was particularly appropriate for this grounded theory, qualitative research. The key factors of ministry perseverance that emerged from the research data were the intentional combination of a pastor’s godly grounding, resilient personality, intimate allies, and targeted calling, or GRIT. Part III demonstrates that these four factors—collectively known as Godly GRIT®—can be strengthened. The strategy for testing that is outlined through a twelve-part small group curriculum. This process informed the development of a ministry plan that combines informal coaching and a workbook to strengthen Godly GRIT. Although this research was conducted in New York’s Adirondack Mountains, the theory of Godly GRIT has broader applicational significance outside that specific region and even beyond vocational ministry.
A Turkish Musical Insider Case Study: Liturgy, Self-Identity and Spiritual FormationThis dissertation examines a model of musico-liturgical worship and its dynamics of inculturation, exploring how seriously a pastor takes context, culture, and worship. This applied case study of the All Saints Moda church (ASM) in Istanbul, Turkey, focused on the impact Pastor Turgay Üçal’s worship songs had on the assembly, and it demonstrated a correlation between local music, self-identity, and spiritual formation. The research frame was provided by the four-arena global church music matrix: (1) the context, (2) the music maker, (3) the church, and (4) the biblical text. The context arena encompassed an exploration of the study’s background through a literature review, participant observation, and interviews. The music-maker arena focused on the life, ministry, and worship songs of Üçal. Methods included more than thirty hours of interviews with Üçal, his family members, and Protestant church leaders as well as the transcription and analysis of eighty of his works. The latter process encompassed lyric content analysis, including metaphoric and thematic analysis. The church arena involved participant observation, event-centered analysis of the ASM liturgical worship practice, and mapping the field of ritual. Finally, through a two-tiered set of interviews with eighteen followers of Christ (approximately one-fifth of the church body), the biblical arena looked into the influence of Üçal’s hymnody on the lives of the ASM congregation. This study was carried out over the course of three years. Results of the investigation revealed that when filled with biblical content and meaning, indigenous music and other locally shaped worship forms function as spiritual disciplines that foster the development of self-identity and spiritual formation from within an Islamic society such as urban Istanbul. This model demonstrates inculturation as an essential component of Christian education and communication. Through nurturing participants’ transformation into Christlike, spiritually mature believers as they exercise their gifts, the ASM worship practice achieves maximum benefits.