Recovering a Missional Ecclesiology: A Framework for Reviving Congregational Mission within the Baptist Union of Victoria
Date of Award
ABSTRACT This project is an intervention to develop a theological and theoretical framework
that will become the foundation for a future curriculum for recovering a missional ecclesiology for the pastors of the Baptist Union of Victoria (BUV). Despite mission being central to the overall vision of the BUV, declining numbers, the post-COVID context in Victoria, and an overarching post-Christian and pluralistic context have significantly challenged the centrality and functioning of mission across our denomination. The impetus of this project was the observation that our churches were floundering rather than flourishing in the missional space. Many chronic and acute provocations were brought about before the COVID pandemic contributing to this. Increasing secularization as well as a recent Royal Commission into sexual abuse within the wider church uncovered historical abuse and coverups, which has decreased the church’s position of trust and increased its marginalization. These impacts, exacerbated by a post-COVID context of disruption and depletion, have created an existential crisis for many pastors and churches, and as a result, many remain in maintenance or recovery mode whilst searching for renewal. Renewal is possible if leaders cultivate missional imagination and praxis among congregation members, leading to a recovery of a missional ecclesiology. A Trinitarian God, who is both the missio and motus Dei, is the guiding theological principle I utilize for this project. I used purposive sampling to assemble a PAR (participatory action research) team of eleven pastors demonstrating initiative in missional imagination and praxis within their churches or communities as the
key informants, along with four staff of the Union. This intervention develops a framework for a future curriculum for recovering a missional ecclesiology. Each session addressed a different aspect of the framework: first, the overarching call to recover a missional ecclesiology and then the themes of remembering God’s overarching story of mission, reorienting the church in culture and context, releasing missional imagination and praxis, repositioning leadership for organizational change, and recreating a renewed future. The members of the PAR team participated in six discussion-based sessions in which their stories and feedback contributed to further developing the framework’s theological and theoretical constructs. I conclude that this framework with the five themes or movements for recovering a missional ecclesiology is sound and with some helpful adjustments can develop into a curriculum which will have wider applicability beyond this denomination.
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Hill, Gayle, "Recovering a Missional Ecclesiology: A Framework for Reviving Congregational Mission within the Baptist Union of Victoria" (2023). Doctor of Ministry Theses. 58.
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