Worship as public truth : toward a liturgical-missional ecclesiology for evangelical congregational leaders
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This Final Project is focused on helping Evangelical congregational leaders move toward embracing a liturgical-missional ecclesiology. I contend that many Evangelicals have embraced only part of what it means to be missional. They are missing one of the essential practices of Lesslie Newbigin’s original vision of missional ecclesiology, the practice of liturgical worship. In order to help Evangelical congregational leaders embrace liturgy I have chosen to draw heavily upon the practical theology method of Richard Osmer. Osmer uses four tasks in his approach to practical theology, which can be arranged in a variety of ways. I begin with the interpretive task, then I move to the normative task, then I move to the descriptive-empirical task, and I conclude with the pragmatic task. In the interpretive task I explore theories from social sciences that argue that human identity is shaped through corporate narratives. I make the observation that corporate narratives can have a liturgical quality to them. In the normative task I explore concepts from Scripture and church history that can encourage Evangelicals to embrace a liturgical-missional ecclesiology. To do this I look at Paul’s narrative ethics in Philippians 2:5-11 and at Lesslie Newbigin’s reflections on liturgy and mission. I also offer some ‘good practices’ that have come out of liturgical-missional conversations in North America. In the descriptive-empirical task I use the case study method to explore the practices of four different Evangelical churches that have embraced liturgical-missional ecclesiology. Finally, in the pragmatic task I offer Evangelical congregational leaders a tool (a guidebook) to facilitate critical reflection on the missiological value of worship. In the preface and postscript I place this project into critical dialogue with the wider question of Lesslie Newbigin’s continuing legacy for the western church.