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Adaptive Ministry for a Post-Church Society


Adaptive Ministry for a Post-Church Society

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Publisher: SCM Press
ISBN: 9780334059806
Published: 30/09/2020

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?

Preface vii

Introduction 1 

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 

Conclusion 205

Bibliography 216 

Index of Names and Subjects 233

John Williams

John Williams is Visiting Fellow and Lecturer in Theology and Religious Studies at York St John University.

'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