It is with these two models in mind that I would like to propose what a missional engagement with the Word of God might be. We encounter the Word of God in three ways: in scripture, in communication, and in the world. We are then invited to listen to this word, discern the voice of God from the voices that move contrary to God, tend to the community, and be ready to move when the Spirit moves.
The three forms in which the Word of God speaks are not distinctive, separate modes, but are interdependent media that are at once separate and definable while also entangled and interdependent. It is helpful, albeit somewhat artificial, to address them separately. We are called to dwell in the Scripture, to dwell in the community, and to dwell in the world.read more
The Word of God, as I have described it, and dwelling in every aspect of the Word, was central to the DITB project. Each of the first six RT meetings began with a Dwelling in the Word exercise. We dwelt in John 14:15-24 for the first three sessions, and then dwelt in John 15:1-17 for the last three sessions. One male and one female would read the passage out loud and then we would break into dyads to discuss what we heard in the text. After that we would gather as a large group and everyone would report to the large group what their conversation partner had said. Finally, we would have a large group discussion about what we had heard. This process took at least forty-five minutes of our two-hour session. It was a struggle for some of the team members to see the relevance of the exercise, because (1) it took up almost half of our meeting time, and (2) it did not explicitly contribute anything tangible to the described goals of the group. This was part of our learning process and I will report on that in later sections.read more
Deep in the Burbs (DITB) was a participatory action research project. It was a gathering of nineteen people from three suburban ELCA congregations that wondered how an increased awareness and understanding of the social Trinity might impact our ideation and praxis of spiritual formation. We encountered the social Trinity in a communicative space and took action in our communities. In this chapter I will provide the theoretical framework for why it was necessary to use participatory action research as the methodology for this particular question. I will explore theories regarding adult learning and spiritual formation. I will also discuss the ELCA in a suburban context and the particular situation of each participating congregation of the DITB project within it. First, I will discuss the use of the term frame as a metaphor in this context.read more
Chapter two explored the theoretical frames for the Deep in the Burbs (DITB) project and why it was necessary to use participatory action research to explore the question. This chapter will explore the theological and Biblical frames that formed the heart of the project. The research team (RT) team asked: How might an increased awareness and understanding of the social Trinity impact the ideation and praxis of spiritual formation in suburban ELCA congregations? It is my conviction, as I have stated earlier, that a reasonably adequate Christian theology is done in, with, under, against, and for the local congregation. Therefore, the DITB project was deeply theological because it was communicative Trinitarian action done within the context of the suburban congregation.read more