Ecclesiology and Ethnography

Among the many things I’ve been learning about thus far in my PhD program is how the fields of theology and social sciences interact. One area that I’m particularly interested in, and will be using in my research, is Ethnography. There’s a growing field that discusses the interaction of Ethnography with Ecclesiology. A network of scholars has developed around this theme.  I was able to attend a terrific conference on this in September 2011, at St. John’s College in Durham. It was extremely helpful to me as a new researcher. I was pleased to receive notice of some upcoming events related to the network. There’s a new book, edited by Pete Ward, called Perspectives on Ecclesiology and Ethnography, a symposium at King’s College London, another symposium at Luther Seminary in St. Paul,MN and a day conference in Oxford on Critical Realism and Practical Theology. This fall, there will also be another […]

2 Days to Exegeting A City

I write this from a café in London. I arrived in this amazing city less than 24 hours ago, and am going to be getting on a train out of town in just a couple hours. Not a lot of time for all things touristy, which is fine by me, because I’m a terrible tourist (and proud of that). Good tourists, though, use an array of guidebooks that can take you on a tour of any given city according to their favorite criteria – “London on $5 a Day!” or “Top Ten Restaurant Experiences in New York” or “The Two Day Guide to Copenhagen.” I haven’t ever read those guides, but I’m sure they’re fun ways of learning a city if you on a limited time frame and/or budget. As a blue collar missiologist/theologian, I’m much more interested in the process of “reading” a city than I am in seeing […]

How You Can Join Me in Global Learning Adventures

Regular readers of this blog are well aware of my affiliation with George Fox Evangelical Seminary, and the new Doctor of Ministry in Global Missional Leadership, which will launch on September 1. It will feature challenging content from our lead mentor, Dr. Jason Clark, who is a passionate learner, as well as a highly skilled practitioner. When the students meet up for face to face learning intensives (about once per year), it’ll be in really great, dynamic locations – London and Nuremburg for the first round; Nairobi, Kenya for the second; and Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia for the third. Guest lecturers from each of these locations will participate, which will give the students some amazing opportunities to learn from diverse theological, cultural, and experiential perspectives. The rest of the work the students do will be in online environments. I’ve had an opportunity to meet several members of our first cohort of students […]

Online vs. “Real Life” Personality

I’m guessing that some smarty-pants person out there has already thought of this, but if I was a university Psychology PhD student, I know what my research and dissertation would be about: developing an instrument that categorizes personality, such as the famous Myers-Briggs Temperament Indicator (MBTI). The MBTI is probably the most widely familiar inventory, assigning it’s alphabet jumble of individual personality profiles – “I’m an INFP,” or “I’m ENTJ.” In grad school, I did a good bit of study on these assessments, and really enjoyed seeing how they work. While the MBTI is an excellent inventory that gets better all the time, I would love to see a new thorough, nuanced, and validated personality assessment. Or maybe I’d just love to see a new version of the MBTI . . . like the wwwMBTI. I’ve been making observations recently of the way I interact with people in person versus […]

Reading: A Habit I’ve Returned To

Yesterday, I spent a few minutes updating my Books page. Over the past few weeks, I seem to have gotten my reading mojo back, after a pretty long hiatus. After a few years of reading like mad for school, I was forced to basically stop reading in order to focus on writing my doctoral dissertation, which took most of my time between August 2008 and March 2009. Once I crossed that finish line, I went almost completely dormant in the literary sense. I’m not sure if it was burnout, but I apparently felt the need for a break. I read very little in what remained of 2009. Even while flying all over the world, spending a ridiculous amount of time on airplanes, I only managed to read one book on my smart phone’s Kindle app. But as quickly as my book lust went away, it seems to have returned. This […]

Globalizing Pop Christianity

Setting out on my global journey, one of the things I fully expected to see a lot of was USAmerican/Western influences in the churches and Christian communities I was visiting.  So it came as no surprise to me that Purpose Driven this, and Willow Creek that have been pretty visible in several places, as have been the worship songs (whether in English, or translated).  I’ve been to a church services with a live worship band, but the pastor’s sermon on a screen – a.k.a. video venue.  I’ve seen an African church website advertising it’s latest sermon series that riffs on the U.S. television show “Extreme Home Makeover.”  Even some of the voices from the emerging church are pretty well known around the world. In my opinion, this is one of the things that may most hinder truly missional expressions of church in the years ahead.  While it is true that […]

Update on George Fox Seminary’s New D.Min.

I’ve blogged and tweeted several times in the past about a new Doctor of Ministry program that George Fox Evangelical Seminary is getting ready to launch, and my involvement in it.  I’m still excited about that, but there has been an adjustment recently.  We were hoping to get things off the ground for the inaugural cohort of the Global Missional Leadership DMin this month in Nairobi, Kenya.  Unfortunately, we weren’t quite able to make some important milestone goals for that to happen, and we’ve pushed back the launch date to September of this year – and the first student meetup will now be in London.  We’ll still be going to Nairobi for a cohort meeting, it’ll just be later on in the program. While it’s a little disappointing to push back the start date, I think it’s a good thing – it’ll give us the opportunity to add more students […]

On Sophisticated Thinking

In my time in Costa Rica, I was able to spend time with a good guy named Anthony Chamberlain.  He’s the director of the Latin American Studies Program for a U.S. collective of Christian colleges.  Students go to Costa Rica for a semester abroad program.  Anthony is USAmerican, but has lived in Costa Rica for 20 years, and has raised children there, so that’s home for him by now. I talked with him about a number of different topics, from his observations about changes in students he’s noticed over the past twenty years, to topics of globalization, to Latin American politics, to theology.  I really enjoyed that time with him, and actually discovered that we’ve got a couple of common friends. As our conversation progressed, one of the themes that Anthony touched on in multiple topics was the lack of sophistication that people tend to have when thinking about life […]

What I Wish I Was Reading

Traveling for three months straight presents some pretty big challenges to a guy who likes books.  They tend to be heavy.  So, I can’t carry a library all over the world with me.  Instead, I’m having to either look for Kindle edition books that I can download to my smart phone, or see new titles I’d like to be reading, and sigh wistfully.  I’m sure there are a number of others I could mention, but here’s the list of books I wish I could have with me as I travel, as well as the one I’m currently in: Theology in the Context of World Christianity, by Timothy C. Tennent.  I’ve just started the Kindle edition of this book.  The introduction is good at providing a rationale for looking at theology from a global perspective.  Case studies of how theologians in different regions of the world would approach a given […]

A Community-Shaped Theology

I’ve just spent the past couple of days meeting and learning from some of the best theologians I’ve ever met. Rather than hearing their grand theories and $10 theological phrases, though, I have witnessed their theology in action. As I mentioned in a previous post, while in the Dominican Republic, I’m spending time with several different people that work with la Red Del Camino network. This is a group of churches and other ministries that have been working in Latin America and the Caribbean for a number of years now – some for 15 or more. They practice a dynamic Kingdom theology that expresses the present reality of the Way of God, rather than huddling up in their buildings and homes, waiting around for Jesus to come back. For example, a church in the colonial area of Santo Domingo – just a short walk from the oldest Catholic Cathedral in […]