Date of Award

Summer 8-2012

Document Type


Primary Advisor

Dr. Stephen Johnson

Secondary Advisor

Dr. David Kneip

Committee Reader

Dr. Melinda Thompson


This doctor of ministry thesis presents the results of a project that explores the potential for extending a practice of story listening as a way of forming community across social circles at the Lake Orion Church of Christ in Lake Orion, Michigan. The intervention involved guiding a group of six participant-researchers, each of whom had previous experience in story listening, through six sessions in the fall of 2011. Each phase of the project was informed by a participatory social Trinitarian theology. The first three sessions were designed to empower participant-researcher pairs to facilitate story listening groups of four to five people from different social levels in the congregation. After the first three sessions, the pairs facilitated three weekly meetings of their own story listening groups. The final three sessions were designed for reflection, employing insights from grounded theory and hermeneutic phenomenology to assess the week’s experiences within each story listening group and to discover the emerging theory regarding the potential of story listening at the Lake Orion Church. Evaluation of the project revealed three key insights: (1) story listening leads to solidarity, both by connecting individuals to others and by shattering the judgmental assumptions and preconceptions listeners have about others; 2) listening is vital to communal formation; 3) story listening levels the social playing field in the group and exposes the myth of closeness that persists in congregations.

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.



To view the content in your browser, please download Adobe Reader or, alternately,
you may Download the file to your hard drive.

NOTE: The latest versions of Adobe Reader do not support viewing PDF files within Firefox on Mac OS and if you are using a modern (Intel) Mac, there is no official plugin for viewing PDF files within the browser window.