Studying Local Churches
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This practical handbook - aimed at final year undergraduates, Masters-level students, student ministers, church leaders and policy makers interested in local faith communities - guides readers through the various tools, methods of analysis and research skills needed for studying local churches. This resource takes full account of the UK context and is an ideal basis for students undertaking research projects and dissertations.
After an historical overview. the handbook identifies theoretical foundations for the study of local churches, drawing on the 4 disciplines of anthropology, sociology, organisational studies and theology. Guidance is provided on both quantitative and qualitative research methods. Research processes covered include such issues as selecting a church, gaining access, selecting methods,analysing data, maintaining confidentiality, research reflexivity, and completing the final report.
- Section 1- Why Study the Local Church?
- Section Two - How to Study the Local Church
- Section Three - What Questions can be Asked and What has Already Been Discovered?
- Global and Local Context · Worship and Action · Resources and People · Power
- Section Four - Directions for Future Research
"In this important new book, the editors offer a rich and varied collection of essays that guide the reader through various tools and methods, and the analyses and research skills, that are needed for the study of local churches. The book is an ideal primer for those about to undertake some fieldwork, or who are preparing to compose a Master's -level thesis." Canon Professor Martyn Percy, Principal of Ripon College, Cuddesdon. Church Times, 7 October 2005.
"Studying Local Churches is an exciting interdisciplinary journey into a study of the vital role which the local church plays and can play in the community it is called to serve. It draws insights from anthropology, sociology, organisational and business skills and theology. (...) This is a book for church leaders with an interest in shaping the life and priorities of the faith community to which they belong. It is also an essential handbook for those in ministry traning as well as for students in Higher Education. It recognises that the study of local churches has implications for society beyond the interests of the religious minded and student of theology." MODEM MATTERS, Summer 2005, issue 28.
"Studying Local Churches provides a welcome freshness and critical distance, allowing the committed but sometimes puzzled Christian to be more objective in trying to understand the Church. The listening and learning mode essential to any research has incalculable implications for all aspects of our mission in the 21st century." Colonel Margaret Hay (IHQ), SALVATIONIST, 3 September 2005.
"All the contributors approach local churches with loving attention. (...) The highlight for me came in the essay by William Storrar, which stimulated me to think in entirely new ways about the use of church buildings." David Deeks, Epworth Review, January 2006.
"On reading it, students will have a much clearer idea of the research porocess, the nature and methods of the four disciplines covered in the book, a wide range of ideas and debates relevant to congregational studies, and further resources they can explore to develop their work. This makes Studying Local Churches an invaluable textbook which may well become required reading for a generation of ministerial trainees and theological students." Gordon Lynch, Department of Theology and Religion, University of Birmingham, Journal of Contemporary Religion, Vol.21, No2, May 2006.
"This is an admirable introductory book for all wishing to bring themselves up to speed on the newly burgeoning field of 'congregational studies", or- indeed - for anyone wishing to engage in a study of their own or any other congregation. (...) there is excellent advice on researching within local congregations and communities in the opening section, including very good bibliographical notes for those who want to receive guidance on interviews, observation, and other methods of conducting research. We have put this book on to our reading lists for all doing dissertations or other studies of local churches." RAE, Regent's Reviews 26, Spring 2006.