Acting our way forward : the hope of the ascension for the leadership of the church
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Christian congregations today live under the reign of the ascended Lord Jesus, who has been exalted to right hand of God the Father, lives to intercede for us, pours out his Spirit, and promises to return. Yet the reality of Jesus’ ascension is often dramatically undercelebrated, distorted, or dismissed. When this happens, congregations not only lose a key part of the Biblical witness, but also a key way of understanding their identity, calling, and hope. If the church today relates to Jesus as the ascended Lord, pastors and Christian leaders should be asking, what are the implications of the ascension for leading congregations to participate in the mission of God? In response to that question, this project places the doctrine and story of Jesus’ ascension in conversation with pastoral ethnography and the organizational theories of sensemaking and innovation as defined by Karl Weick and Clayton Christensen. Through this conversation, and by focusing particularly on the congregation of Mt. Horeb Presbyterian Church, I propose that the reality of the ascension – particularly Jesus’ incarnate exaltation, his intercession and gifting of the Spirit, and his promised return – gives small to average-sized mainline congregations stability in the present and resources to act and improvise hopefully into the future as they participate faithfully and contextually in the mission of God.