Communal maturation and missional discipleship
A congregational study
Keywords:Individualization, personal and communal maturation, spiritual practices, missional discipleship
Individualization exercises pervasive power in the modern western church, generating an isolated and privatized approach to discipleship and mission that has been attended to extensively over the years in attempts to foster “whole-life” discipleship. My doctoral field work in 2015–17 was with a single Church of England congregation that had adopted an outward-looking missional process which disrupted this individualization and challenged people to a personal and communal journey of change in which the public life that they began to share with people in their wider community shaped both their personal and communal maturation. This journey was fuelled by shared communal practices which in turn generated new forms of communal life to express the congregation’s developing public Christian identity. This research demonstrates both the challenges and the potential of forming communal identity in an individualized culture. Moreover, when mission is undertaken with openness to the other, a profound interdependence between communal maturation and missional discipleship is revealed.
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