Presentation on theme: "A study of language, theology and praxis from the UK and Ireland perspective."— Presentation transcript:
A study of language, theology and praxis from the UK and Ireland perspective
The Task The task of this study group is to explore how a Trinitarian understanding of God as Father, Son and Holy Spirit relates to the theory and practice of mission; how the confession that God has a missionary identity impacts Christian witness; how a discernment of the Trinitarian God´s inner relationships and love impacts ecclesiology, community life and society.
Hypothesis Academic and theological task Hypothesis is that what is said publicly about the theology of mission by UK and Ireland churches, agencies and institutions does not necessarily match up with the mission practice, understanding and outworking of those same bodies.
Research in Three phases Website search for public language about mission; NVIVO analysis of that language and semiotic analysis of sites Survey using theological statements In depth interviews with participants about their responses National churches and agencies (GMN/GC/BIAMS) Local churches in Nottinghamshire BIAMS conference members
Some Website straplines Sharing Jesus, Changing Lives Christian Care for Families A Community Centred on Christ for the New Evangelisation For People and Community Informing, promoting and inviting all Christians to respond to today’s mission Where a little goes a long way Growing leaders, growing churches
Websites (CMS March)
Websites (USPG: March)
Websites Theological language not so important Pictures, stories, welcome, portal devices send important messages More attention needed concerning underlying meanings of images and web constituents Some emphasis on the committed rather than the casual visitor Can public language about mission be upheld in practice?
Survey- Survey Monkey Statements in threes randomly distributed Statements worded as opposites and the same way in different categories Statements with positive and negative language Use of ranking language ‘primarily’, ‘best’ Ability to comment
Survey Statements about mission Origin and Purpose of God’s Mission Kingdom, Mission and Church Who best does mission? Evangelism and Mission Mission and Development Mission and Improving Lives Mission and Other Faiths God at work through…. Mission and Proclamation Mission and Sin Mission and Salvation (two statements) Mission and Church (essence of the Church) Mission and Church (function of the Church) Mission and Partnership Mission Outcomes Mission Priorities page
Survey Strongly agree Agree Neither agree nor disagree Disagree Strongly disagree Challenging process but fruitful because the statements had to be addressed.
Survey results– emerging themes Desire to agree with ‘mission’; resist disagree ‘Good’ language (transformation, reconciliation, hospitality, love) strongly affirmed Negative language (confront, condemn) resisted ‘Justice’ – deeply problematic Reflection on complex issues causes some shift Theology is weak driver The Church is missionary, but mission is not ‘to’ or ‘into’ church
‘ Negative’ language
Theologically difficult statements
Reflection causes shift
Survey process- emerging themes Process helps people start to think about the complexity and messiness of mission Need to contextualise, root ideas in story ‘It depends what you mean…’ Is and ought Struggle to respond Leadership questions – does the team think?
BIAMS Mission as missio dei Mission as transformation Mission as proclamation
Interview process Exploring: 13 Questions overall Experience of filling in the survey: agreement and disagreement ‘Don’t know’ Problem of Justice Authority, Trinity, Understanding of God Theological ‘position’: (Bevans and Schroeder) Proclamation Missio Dei Justice Comparison of theology and mission priorities
The Local Interviewees 9 Anglicans, 2 Baptists, 1 each of Methodist, URC, Salvation Army, RC and Pentecostal. 13M 3F – 1 non-white British Local Clergy in the main with some with denominational roles.
In-depth interviews –local headlines Clergy universally convinced of the local missionary task as core purpose of the church Some evidence of receptivity of Missio Dei, but only some – an “adoption distribution curve”? Many want to hold to a holistic approach while a majority when pressed will prioritise proclamation of Christ
The National Interviewees 11 in total – 3 Churches, 8 Mission Agencies 4 Mission agencies in Global Connections Network Rest from GMN network Some issues with interviewee not being the survey respondent Sample size?
In-depth interviews: national headlines Leadership tensions & representation: difference between churches and agencies Awareness of Missio Dei (esp. agencies) but not foremost driver Desire to root things in theological reflections and story ‘justice’ as problematic word ‘holistic’ emerges again
Further Analysis & Questions 1 Wide range of understandings of mission and mission activities / interventions - complexity Congregations lag behind – mission still happens overseas for some – an agenda here? Authority for mission – Mt. 28:19-20 and/or Institution – mission as an ought Institution as a drag as well as driver
Further Analysis & Questions 2 The justice question In local churches not much enthusiasm for mission as changing unjust structures, political intervention and certainly not direct action generally a part of the whole, but only a part justice sometimes translated as simple charity Justice as a means to the end of proclamation or an end in itself? – national interviews ‘’holistic’ – a “get out jail free” card?
Further Analysis & Questions 3 Understanding of the God of Mission In Local Churches one third very clear only two give a fully Trinitarian answer one third thrown by the question – silenced for some time and then talk about mission in general spirituality of mission is missing here Nationally little evidence of spirituality in mission
Conclusions Public mission language does not match mission reality Websites have hidden potential that is probably not realised ‘Mission’ has common assent but prioritising action in mission is difficult Most response to relational language and themes Resistance to negative, separating language Theology is a weak driver, mostly Matthew ‘Justice’ is a problem Need to contextualise what mission is in experience Gap between leadership and ordinary Christians
Outcomes Process just as important as results and felt to be useful so production of: Tool for web analysis and thinking about design Adaptations of the survey for different constituencies Template of questions for discussion or interview