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Durham e-Theses
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Challenging Leadership: Mission-Shaped Presbyters in Methodist Fresh Expressions

COX, JOANNE,HEATHER (2012) Challenging Leadership: Mission-Shaped Presbyters in Methodist Fresh Expressions. UNSPECIFIED thesis, Durham University.

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The Mission-Shaped Church report by the Church of England prompted the Methodist and Church of England in the UK to respond to the dislocation being felt between the inherited model of Church, and the missiological challenges of the twenty-first century. The most significant ecumenical development arising from the initial report was the formation of the Fresh Expressions initiative, whose sole task was to release leaders and communities to found churches for the ‘unchurched.’

Examples of Anglican fresh expressions are much researched. In this thesis, I explore how the Methodist Church in Britain has responded to the leadership questions raised by contemporary culture, and do this by examining ethnographically three case studies of Methodist fresh expressions. I argue against the assumption that Methodism is incompatible with the emerging church worldview, arguing that Methodist people have much to offer to the debate.

The main finding of this thesis is that leaders of fresh expressions and leadership styles often create tensions between a presbyter's self understanding of vocation within the Methodist tradition and expectations placed upon them. There are irreconcilable differences between the vision and values of a 'fresh expression', and the requirements of the local circuit or district. The discernment of specific gifts for pioneering ministries places pressure on the stationing system and on the understanding of what a presbyter is stationed to achieve. On account of the cultural assumptions of postmodern Britain, leaders are faced with the challenges of cultural accommodation, without necessarily having the tools with which to make such decisions. I argue that there is a need for fresh expressions to be denominationally distinctive before they can be distilled into something new. The thesis also reflects the costliness of research to an ordained minister embarking on practical theology.

This thesis exposes leaders as people who are highly motivated but with the potential of being highly flawed. It presents difficult questions before the Methodist Church in light of the collected evidence and reflects on the difficulties faced by the whole church as it continues to respond to the challenges of mission and discipleship in Britain today.

Item Type:Thesis (UNSPECIFIED)
Award:Doctor of Theology and Ministry
Keywords:Mission, Fresh Expressions, Practical Theology, Methodist, Leadership, Christian, Church, Ordinary Theology, Ethnography,
Faculty and Department:Faculty of Arts and Humanities > Theology and Religion, Department of
Thesis Date:2012
Copyright:Copyright of this thesis is held by the author
Deposited On:15 May 2012 08:47

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