Right now, my mind is trying to wrap itself around two projects – one for Church Growth and the other for Ethics of Hospitality. I’m admittedly taking on more than I can chew with both projects, so I am working on them both now, a good six weeks before they are due.
Smart? Yes. Intense? Yes. Nerd-ish? Perhaps.
Both projects are going to require a lot of research and, in one instance, some original research that will take time to analyze. I still need to get one project approved, which I am hopeful will happen today.
Here are the projects that I am working on and reasoning behind each project.
Church Growth: Evangelism Efforts of Non-Christians Under the Age of 40
One of the things that George Hunter’s Church Growth class has taught me is that to reach a certain group – or population – the one size fits all model doesn’t always work. What works in reaching an older generation is not necessarily going to work, for instance, a different generation. I believe that is one of the struggles we face with the growing population in America of individuals whom have never heard the Gospel of Jesus Christ or whom have run from the message of faith in Christ. Are we doing the same things we have always done or is there specific ways to reach this group of non-Christians?
That is what I want to study. What is the best way, in today’s American context, of reaching individuals whom have no primary church experience? To do so, I’m going to have to do some investigating of what has worked and what has not worked. There are several churches here in Lexington that are reaching that target population (under 40) with some success. I want to study what they are doing and how other churches can use those techniques and adapt them to their own contexts to reach this generation for Christ.
As a young minister in training, my generation is not my parent’s generation, nor is it the generation of my grandparent’s. Thus, it is the mission field and we have to look at America as a mission field and not the center of the global Christian experience. That is exciting and challenging at the same time.
Hospitality: Exclusion/Embrace of People Whom Have Different Political Persuasions
This is the project that has me the most excited going into the home stretch of the semester. It is one, as well, that I’ve been thinking about throughout the midterm election and its aftermath. Do we exclude others from fellowship in the church if they do not believe in the same way that “we” do? In other words, do we limit whom we let into our fellowships, especially in this polarized culture that we live in, to those whom think like us and believe like us?
I want to use the framework of political ideology for several reasons in this paper.
First, I think it easily gets overlooked, especially among seminary students. It is easy to recognize the exclusion that happens among different races, cultures, and lifestyles, but I think it is harder to recognize when it is about something as personal as how we believe. Politics is that one place you don’t talk about, why? Aren’t we called to love each other in Christian love, and if so does that no mean that we should be able to discuss, embrace, and engage the other, and come to a realization that to love means to not demonize those whom may disagree with your basic position? To often, on both the Religious Left and Religious Right, we are willing to call the other side “less than Christian” if they uphold a position we may not agree with. We have placed our political ideology on top of theology, and in doing so we have closed off relationship with the other.
Second, I’ve seen it happen time and time again where we criticize political leaders as “dirty,” “slimy,” or “crooked,” but if we used those same words to describe others we would be ashamed of ourselves. Again, if we are called to embrace others then should we label leaders in such a way? How does one call the tactics of politics corrupt while still engaging in welcome to those whom we disagree with?
Hopefully, it will get approved. If not, I’m going to have to think of something else.