Tag Archives: research

Two Weeks Left in Phase Two

The final meetings of the Deep in the Burbs Research Project happen in two weeks. Here is a brief synopsis of the project and the final questions we will ponder.

A Brief Summary

We are a group of Upper Mid-Western Suburban ELCA Christians from three congregations. We came together in the Deep in the Burbs Research Team to reimagine spiritual formation in the suburbs in light of the social Trinity. We met together for four weeks in February and March, 2014 to discuss the topics of spiritual formation, the social Trinity, and the suburban context. We then met four more times in April and May to collaboratively create projects that we could do in our own contexts to engage these key topics in our lived experience between May and November. Each meeting began with a Dwelling in the Word in John 14, 15, and 16 before we engaged the specific topic at hand.

The data created in this project were in the following forms: audio recordings of each team meeting, online discussion forums in our www.deepintheburbs.com site, and personal journals. These data were compiled and processed by our lead researcher, Steve Thomason.

The projects we set out to pursue were:

  • Prayer Group for Families of Confirmation Students
  • Community Pig Roast
  • Befrienders Ministry
  • Reconfiguring Adult Formation Curriculum around Trinity
  • Sunday S’mores in Church Parking Lot
  • Building Haiti Mission Teams
  • Small Group to Study the Book 7
  • Leadership in Men’s Ministry
  • Connecting with Neighborhood around and Service Issue/Project
  • Regular Group to Serve at Feed My Starving Children

We experimented with these projects with various levels of success and modification from May through the end of October, 2014. We journaled our thoughts, feelings, and experiences and either shared them on the discussion forum and/or emailed them to Steve Thomason.

Now, we come to the end of our journey.

We must now prayerfully consider the following questions:

  1. In what ways, if at all, did the conversation about the social/relational/entangled Trinity change the way you think about and/or practice spiritual formation?
  2. What part of the Deep in the Burbs Project surprised you, and how?
  3. What have been your significant take-aways from this project? In other words, what have you learned from this experience?
  4. How did Dwelling in the Word either enhance or deter from the project?
  5. If we were to do this project again, what would you do differently?
  6. What advice would you give to suburban ELCA christians regarding spiritual formation in light of your experience in this project?
  7. What advice would you give to suburban ELCA pastors and ministry leaders regarding spiritual formation in light of your experience in this project?
  8. What questions do you think should be asked about the project that have not been asked in questions 1-7?

Half Way Through Phase One

The Deep in the Burbs Research Team has met three times out of the six scheduled meetings in Phase One of the project. We talked about the Social Trinity this past Monday. I created a series of videos designed to introduce the conversation around the Trinity as it has developed in Western Culture.

I must say that it was a very different dynamic from the first two meetings. Those meetings consisted of dynamic small group conversations, based on Peter Block’s 1-3-6 priniciple ((This is the process of inviting people to process a question individually, then in groups of three, then in groups of six. It allows everyone to contribute and feel empowered. read more…)) . This past meeting we watched a video, reflected individually, and then jumped right to large group discussion. It was amazing to see how some people in the group never spoke once.

We will return to the 1-3-6 method for the remainder of the sessions. The goal is to co-create a vision of a preferred future, and a practical, achievable project that will help us move in that direction.

This post has the four videos, plus a Prezi that goes more in depth with an illustrated timeline and an extended, illustrated bibliography. It also has the Prezi that discusses the Hermeneutical shift in the 20th century.

Next week we will begin the discussion of what kind of project we can do over the next few months that might create new possibilities for spiritual formation in the suburbs.

It has been a fun process so far. It is a great group of people and very encouraging to see people from three congregations working so well together.

The Social Trinity, Part 1: A Quick Overview

The Deep in the Burbs Research Project is off to a good start. The team has met twice and is gelling nicely. We’ve been wrestling with the nature and purpose of Spiritual Formation. This week we turn our attention to the Trinity. What is it? Does it matter? How does it relate to spiritual formation?

I have created a series of videos to introduce the conversation. This is the first video in that series. This video provides the basic overview of, what some theologians call, the Social Trinity. (view part 2)

The social Trinity begins with the three persons of the Trinity (as described in the Christian Scriptures) and seeks to understand how the relationship ((thus the term “social”)) between the persons is the very essence ((the Greek word for essence can also be translated substance. The discussion of the substance of God–and of all things–is called ontology. Thus, the social Trinity speaks of a relational ontology as opposed to a substance ontology)) of life itself. The fancy-schmansy word for this is relational ontology. ((Zizioulas is a Greek Orthodox theologian that speaks about this. read a review of his book. Or, view the relational ontology tag for all the related posts.)) The social Trinity is also known, by some, as the Economic Trinity.  The term economic comes from the Greek word oikos–meaning house. It does not refer to money, as we understand economy, but, rather, refers to the activity of God within the “house” of the created universe. The social–or Economic– Trinity stands in contrast to the traditional view of God as three persons within Godself. This traditional view is known as the Immanent Trinity (immanent means “operating or existing within”) and emphasizes the oneness of God as God relates to the world from outside of creation.

Are You Ready to Dream a New Rhythm of Life for the Suburbs?

Join us for a six-week adventure in dreaming a new dream for spiritual growth in the suburbs.
A group of people from Grace Lutheran Church in Andover, MN, Zion Lutheran Church in Anoka, MN, and Faith Lutheran Church in Coon Rapids, MN is gathering to discuss, dream, and reimagine what spiritual formation might look like for busy suburban people.
If you are interested in learning more, click the Join the Team button at the right.