Adaptive Ministry for a Post-Church Society
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Strategic thinking about ministry and mission has tended to focus on the challenges of communication and presentation. Less attention has been paid to the effects that this thinking has on ministry. There is an unacknowledged dilemma for churches insofar as they are caught between the challenge to re-shape ministry in response to cultural change and the belief that there are certain God-given, immutable foundations for ministerial order that must be retained.
Arguing that what is needed is a provisional approach to ministry which recognises that all forms of ministry are, and always have been a response to social and cultural context, this book brings theological and practical insight to bear on the question of ministry's provisionality. In the end, it asks, is the only way through this dilemma a kind of Ecclesianarchy?
1. Liquid Modernity: Hallmarks of the Post-Church Society 8
2. Unfinished Business: The Historical Contestation of Ministry 23
3. Threefold Disorder: Diaconal, Presbyteral and Episcopal Ministry Today 44
4. Interrogating Ordination: Ontology, Function and Gender 65
5. Shared, Lay, Local and Collaborative: The Road Less Travelled 80
6. Distribution and Difference: The Pentecostal and Charismatic Inheritance 101
7. Chaplaincy: A Very Ancient and Postmodern Ministry 116
8. Fresh Expressions: Hope for the Mainstream Denominations? 134
9. Signals of the Impossible: Reimagining the Role of Christian Faith 148
10. ‘Ecclesianarchy’: A Blueprint for Adaptive Ministry 161
11. Stirring Up the Gift: On Being Formed for Christian Ministry 177
12. Identity Crisis: Negotiating Role and Person in Ministry 191
Index of Names and Subjects 233
'Context and culture shape always theologies of ministry. In this excellent study of ecclesiology and ministry, John Williams gives us a refreshing, zesty analysis of how culture and Christianity interact to produce ecclesial and ministerial praxis. No theology or religious belief lacks a cultural or social reference point and shape. There is no 'pure' religion, belief, revelation or doctrine. Everything we say, think, do, believe and practise about God is mediated through social or cultural agents. This is perhaps nowhere more true that in the ever-evolving and adaptive identity of the church, and the ministry it offers. This prescient and pithy book from Williams will challenge thinking and break new ground. It is a critically-reflective and quite remarkable book, which will amply repay study and wider discussion.' -- Martyn Percy, Dean, Christ Church Oxford
'This book has a deep resonance with those of us involved in nurturing faith not only within but more especially beyond the church walls. It is a well-judged analysis of why the church is persistently behind the curve in adapting to a post Christian culture but also comes with a refreshing proposal – ‘ecclesianarchy’. John Williams draws together learning, thinking and ideas for an evolution (not a revolution) of ministry to enable a more adaptive and responsive body of Christ; one that has a flexible strength for different contexts and communities, is more authentic to its original calling and far more relevant than the outdated status quo.' -- Rachel Shackleton, MA Chaplaincy Studies graduate (York St John University) and Methodist Local Preacher
'What would a Christian presence in the public arena look like post-Christendom? To find out there is no going back, says John Williams, so we have got to dispense with ‘a dysfunctional ecclesiology and ministerial theology’. As a seasoned teacher and practitioner Williams writes persuasively. There are an abundance of stimulating insights and ideas in these pages which will stretch your mind and excite your heart. We need to hear - and more importantly - heed this prophetic voice.' -- Paul W. Thomas, Archdeacon of Salop.
'This important book sets out the story of where we have come from over the last half-century in church life and asks what will the Church of England look like in a ‘post-church society’? John Williams argues that experimentation and innovation are already the order of the day and demonstrates how changes in ministry are always and everywhere adaptive.' -- Canon Dr Malcolm Grundy
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