One of the most important findings from the DITB project is that method matters. The way in which we pursued this question is as much a part of the answer as any findings we may propose as a result. I will suggest, in this section, that the process we used in our project is a trinitarian praxis that can serve as a helpful model for missional leadership in the suburban context. The process to which I refer includes the following components: Dwelling in the Word, collaboratively creating action projects, creating spaces—both digital and physical—for ongoing communication and collaboration, and regrouping to engage in communicative, theological reflection on the actions.
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.
The research question presented an educational challenge in which the pedagogical and research methodology was as important as the question itself. I was faced with a fundamental question during the planning phase of this project: Would I use modernist, instrumental methodologies to convince the team that certain ideas regarding the social Trinity are preferred to older models, or would I engage the team in a collaborative discovery process in which the outcome of the learning experience was unknown to me? I will articulate, in this section, how I framed the research project within a postfoundational, constructivist, participatory methodology by drawing upon the theoretical models found in Palmer, Kegan, Brookfield, and Hess.
This section will provide provisional interpretation and reflection on specific findings from the data. I said, in chapter three, that this research was done from and for a missional imagination of the church. It is with this perspective in mind that we frame our findings. More specifically, it is with the leadership of the local congregation in mind—both clergy and lay leaders—that we name our findings.
Our specific research question was: How might an increased awareness and understanding of the social Trinity impact the ideation and praxis of spiritual formation in suburban ELCA congregations? Therefore, we must first address the obvious question. Did the increased awareness and understanding of the social Trinity have any impact at all on the team’s ideation and praxis of spiritual formation? Then we can address the second, and more complicated question. If it did have an impact, how was it impacted?