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Consuming Mission: Towards a Theology of Short-Term Mission and Pilgrimage

HAYNES, ROBERT,ELLIS (2017) Consuming Mission: Towards a Theology of Short-Term Mission and Pilgrimage. Doctoral thesis, Durham University.

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Author-imposed embargo until 29 March 2020.


The thesis investigates how contemporary United Methodist short-term mission (hereafter STM) participants express their motivations for taking part in their service activities. It argues that a robust theology of STM is absent. Indeed, this absence is usurped by cultural and economic influences. The disclosed motivations are more reflective of pilgrimage rather than theologies of mission as expressed in the missio Dei and Wesleyan missional theology.

The thesis first uses academic literature to codify a United Methodist theology of mission through investigation of the historical influences and current mission practices. Emphasis is placed upon the development and expression of a theology of the missio Dei within the context of a discussion of Fresh Expressions, the Emergent Church, and Third-Wave Mission movements. The unique role of United Methodist mission is illustrated through its historical roots in the Wesleyan movement and contemporary expression in the ubiquitous STM movement in the United States. Next, it utilizes original field research data: semi-structured focus group interviews and online anonymous surveys to gather the implicit and explicit theologies of lay and clergy participants in these international service journeys for intense, but brief, periods of time. The literature and field research are synthesized in an effort to further develop a theology of STM.

It is clear that a substantial number of STM participants and leaders placed primary importance upon framing their service trips as a self-benefiting experience. The influences of the Economy of Experience, as illustrated in Joseph Pine and James Gilmore's work, is significant in the field data as participants describe their time, money, sacrifice, and service, applied in the name of mission, as a way to purchase an experience akin to personal growth commonly sought by pilgrims. The resulting tensions this creates for evangelism and mission are explored. There is a call for robust theological work to move this ubiquitous practice away from consuming mission for personal edification.

Item Type:Thesis (Doctoral)
Award:Doctor of Philosophy
Keywords:Short-Term Mission, STM, Missio Dei, Pilgrimage, Tourism, Pilgrims, Emerging Church, ECM, Third-Wave Mission, United Methodist, Wesleyan Theology, Wesleyan Missiology, Missiology, Economy of Experience, Experience Economy, Turnerian Pilgrimage, David Bosch, Evangelism, Methodist Mission, Methodist Missiology, Methodist Evangelism, Wesleyan Evangelism, Qualitative Research, Focus Group Interviews, Voluntourism, Fresh Expressions, Latin American Mission, Small Group Movement, Small Group Ministry, Liminoid, Communitas, Liminal, Uberization, cross-cultural, cross-cultural mission
Faculty and Department:Faculty of Arts and Humanities > Theology and Religion, Department of
Thesis Date:2017
Copyright:Copyright of this thesis is held by the author
Deposited On:04 Apr 2017 16:58

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