By Thomas E. Frank
Thomas Edward Frank issues out that the dominant paradigm of many modern books approximately church management displays an underlying “theology of progress,” a distilling of the gospel into self esteem, a conflation of basilea with industry progress. in keeping with Frank, success and blessing are burdened; compliment and solid feeling are pointed out. This paradigm of luck and growth, although, fails to account thoroughly for the imaginative and prescient of the believers’ presence on the planet as ecclesia. “The soul of the congregation,” argues Frank, is a fashion of being and being-in-the-world, and never didactic or effective. each congregation is a distinct tradition comprising the artifacts, practices, values, outlooks, symbols, tales, language, ritual, and collective personality that makes it quite itself. This culture--or soul--is an outgrowth of the existence jointly of a selected mixture of contributors, households, ethnic and group types that experience hooked up in a undeniable position through the years. through conscientiously staring at congregational tradition, leaders and members can deepen figuring out and appreciation for the congregation because it has persevered, and realize percentages for ministry derived from the congregation's values and strengths. In a chain of pleasant letters and engrossing reflections, Frank invitations us to perform this paintings of discernment, of seeing, listening, being attentive, and spinning webs of reference to reviews, stories, traditions, and concepts that experience long gone earlier than. instead of achieve for a few newfangled church advertising or progress paradigm that doesn't feed the soul, he urges us to lean on what we have already got between us. In so doing, we are going to rediscover the soul of the congregation of which we're already an element.
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Additional info for The Soul of the Congregation
We need each to thrive. Poetics has a certain affinity with the ethnographic disposition for which I was appealing earlier. Both begin with acute and sensitive observation and require paying constant attention. Both also contain a distancing moment of appraisal and consideration. Poetics flourishes, though, when it moves, perhaps beyond typical ethnographic practice, into an immersion and identification with whatever the “poet” observes, risking full engagement with the imaginative possibilities of the situation.
Without the reality check of actual congregations and the real people who inhabit them, I am tempted to settle for glib generalizations. Probably no society is more obsessed with demographic data than ours. Gender, ethnicity, age, education, income level, sexual orientation, and place of residence all are markers by which we continually take stock of ourselves. But without attention to the human beings right in front of me with whom I am in relationship, this constant census-taking is oppressive.
This congregation was here long before I came (usually) and will be here long after I’m gone. I will honor these people as a collective whole from whom I can learn—and nothing would make them more inclined to honor me than my paying full attention to them. Some pastors have told me that they don’t have time for this approach—there are sermons to preach, programs to install, missions to accomplish. ” Others say that they don’t anticipate serving a particular congregation long enough to make this sort of depth knowledge desirable or useful.
The Soul of the Congregation by Thomas E. Frank