Deep in the Burbs is a story of people in formation. The task of this project—to ask how an increased awareness and understanding of the social Trinity might impact the ideation and praxis of spiritual formation in suburban ELCA congregations—implies that something might be changed, formed, or reformed in the research group—and me—as a result of the research. I will frame this formational process from three angles: the spiritual, the educational, and the catechetical. First, I will define my use of the term spiritual formation and how it relates to the study of spirituality. Second, I will discuss adult learning theory and name my pedagogical methodology. Third, I will discuss the specific discipline of religious education and my approach to adult catechesis.
The DITB project is a story of people in formation. The research question itself has both explicit and implicit implications for how we should frame this project with regard to how people are formed. It explicitly names the term spiritual formation, thus it will be necessary to discuss and define this term in the context of the research. The question also implicitly refers to adult education in that it asks how an increased awareness and understanding of the social Trinity might impact ideation and praxis of spiritual formation. Therefore, it will be necessary to frame the project within a particular theoretical perspective on adult learning and pedagogical methodologies.
Block offers practical steps to create a truly collaborative space for participatory action research. He says,
The context that restores community is one of possibility, generosity, and gifts, rather than one of problem solving, fear, and retribution. A new context acknowledges that we have all the capacity, expertise, and resources that an alternative future requires. Communities are human systems given form by conversations that build relatedness. The conversations that build relatedness most often occur through associational life, where citizens show up by choice, and rarely in the context of system life, where citizens show up out of obligation. The small group is the unit of transformation and the container for the experience of belonging. Conversations that focus on stories about the past become a limitation to community; ones that are teaching parables and focus on the future restore community.