The challenges of reconstruction : a congregational study of an emerging church
This thesis is an exercise in practical theology using the mutually critical correlation model of inquiry. It is performed through the vehicle of a congregational study utilizing the tools of ethnography in studying one local church, Jacobsfield Vineyard. It seeks to understand the complexities of this congregation as it attempts to reconstruct its identity in relation to evangelicalism, the Vineyard organization, a post-Christian cultural settings, and, most notably, the nascent movement known as “the emerging church”. Through participant observation, a demographic survey, and semi-structured interviews with congregants, the researcher identified the central themes of differentiation from evangelicalism, safety through honesty and openness, space for personal and spiritual growth and maturity, and experimentation in communicating with the surrounding culture as those motifs which best characterized Jacobsfield Vineyard’s situation. A central theology question related to the need for appropriate “reconstruction-criteria” which results in relevance to those inside and outside this church community is posed as a representation of these forces. Finally, the thesis steps back for practical theological reflection concerning how these themes and questions from the congregational study may be transformational for other ecclesial contexts and guide further inquiry for pertinent theological disciplines.