DRC : Grasvoelkop : moving from a missions-minded to a missional focus

Crouse, Carl Peter (2014-12)

Thesis (MTh)--Stellenbosch University, 2014.

Thesis

ENGLISH ABSTRACT: DRC Grasvoëlkop is a small urban congregation that can, in the light of Galatians 6:4, be proud of its involvement in local and global missions as a partner in the proclamation of God’s Word. Demographic and cultural changes have, however, forced the congregation to look afresh at its identity and calling as declining membership, financial pressure, and self-questioning of its relevance within its immediate context arise. The researcher has been a minister of this congregation for 24 years. The researcher undertakes an empirical study of the congregation, together with a description of the changing context, that aims to expose the impotence of an institutional hermeneutic to move the congregation forward into growth and fruitful ministry. Part I will describe additionally the changes that have taken place in Western culture and how these cultural shifts have unwittingly influenced the church. Rather than being merely missions-minded, a congregation needs to be missional. This requires the church to recognise false accommodations to Western culture, and to transition from an institutional to a missional hermeneutic. The research aims to show how an understanding of missional theology can assist the congregation in moving to a more biblical understanding of culture, calling and identity; and how a fruitful future lies in rejecting self-preservation to embrace the missio Dei. This is undertaken in Part II, which distinguishes three key aspects of missional theology: 1. The Trinity, with the possibilities that a fuller and more faithful view of God may bring to bear on a struggling congregation through a renewed faith; 2. The Kingdom of God, and what it means in terms of salvation and hope, showing how a struggling congregation can interact fruitfully with the world; and 3. The call to discipleship, and how love can help the congregation rediscover identity and calling. The study fleshes out these three aspects by describing how missional theology corrects an unbiblical accommodation to Western culture (secularisation, spiritual escapism and individualism) and supplies a healthy corrective. The study shows how the church can err through a reactionary response to these errors that then swings to an opposite, equally unbiblical pole. Together with an appreciation of missional thought, the study endeavours to offer a fresh contribution to the missional conversation by highlighting the important place of proclamation (and how missionmindedness can be developed further) and the vital but underappreciated role that vocation can play as a missional calling. The growing mystical emphasis within the denomination is questioned and an alternative, found in Puritan spirituality, is advocated. This study underlines the inadequacy of a missions-focus that does not spring from a missional ecclesiology and finds in missional theology the parameters to transform the congregation as a participant in the missio Dei, able to minister and thrive within a changed context.

AFRIKAANSE OPSOMMING: Die NGK Grasvoëlkop is 'n klein stedelike gemeente wat, in die lig van Galasiërs 6:4, trots kan wees op haar betrokkenheid in plaaslike en globale sending deur vennoot te wees in die uitdra van God se Woord. Demografiese en kulturele veranderings het egter die gemeente gedwing om nuut te kyk na haar identiteit en roeping soos 'n dalende lidmaattal, finansiële druk en die bevraagtekening van haar eie relevansie binne haar onmiddellike konteks ontstaan. Die navorser is die afgelope 24 jaar leraar van hierdie gemeente. Hierdie navorsing onderneem ʼn empiriese studie van die gemeente en 'n beskrywing van die veranderende konteks wat ten doel het om die onmag te beskryf van die heersende institusionele hermeneutiek om die gemeente na groei en ʼn vrugbare bediening te neem. Deel I beskryf die veranderings wat in Westerse kultuur plaasgevind het, en hoe die kerk onbewustelik deur hierdie kulturele kenmerke gevorm is. Eerder as om bloot ʼn sendingbetrokkenheid te hê, is dit nodig dat 'n gemeente missionaal moet wees. Dit vra dat die gemeente sal herken waar daar onskriftuurlike akkommodasie gemaak is vir Westerse kultuur en om te skuif van 'n institusionele na 'n missionale hermeneutiek. Die navorsing wys hoe 'n begrip van missionale teologie die gemeente kan begelei na 'n Bybelse begrip van kultuur, roeping en identiteit, en hoe 'n vrugbare toekoms ontdek word deur weg te beweeg van selfbehoud na deelname in die missio Dei. Dit word onderneem in Deel II, wat drie sleutelaspekte van missionale teologie onderskei: 1. Die Drie-eenheid, met die moontlikhede wat 'n voller Godsbegrip bring vir 'n sukkelende gemeente deur ʼn hernude geloof; 2. Die Koninkryk van God, en wat dit in terme van verlossing en hoop beteken, soos dit vir die gemeente toon hoe sy in die wêreld vrug kan dra; 3. Die roeping tot dissipelskap, en hoe liefde die gemeente kan help om haar roeping en identiteit te herontdek. Die studie beskryf hierdie drie aspekte en hoe missionale teologie dien as korrektief op die foutiewe akkommodasies van Westerse kultuur (sekularisasie, wêreldversaking en individualisme) en bied 'n nodige korrektief. Die studie wys verder hoe die kerk kan fouteer deur, in reaksie op hierdie misvattings, oor te hel na 'n teenoorgestelde en ewe onbybelse pool. Saam met 'n waardering van missionale teologie wil hierdie navorsing ook 'n vars bydrae tot die missionale gesprek maak deur klem te lê op die belang van verkondiging (en die plek wat sendingbetrokkenheid binne die gemeente behoort te hê), asook die belangrike maar onderwaardeerde rol van roeping (“vocation”) in die daaglikse lewe van die lidmaat. Die groeiende klem op mistiek binne die denominasie word ondersoek en 'n alternatief vanuit Puriteinse spiritualiteit word voorgestel. Die studie onderstreep die onvermoë van 'n sendingbewustheid wat nie gebore is uit ʼn missionale ekklesiologie nie, en vind in missionale teologie die nodige parameters vir die gemeente om te transformeer as 'n deelnemer in die missio Dei, en om te bedien en te groei binne 'n veranderde konteks.

Please refer to this item in SUNScholar by using the following persistent URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10019.1/95807
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