“Congregations of the old Protestant mainline denominations … continue to sponsor many educational activities, but they lack the intentionality, the coherence and the continuity needed to maintain and renew their identities as communities of faith.”
Charles R Foster, From Generation to Generation
(Eugene: Cascade Books, 2012), p45.
Today I’m going to start to blog about my doctoral research, simply by doing a 10 minute ‘brain dump’ every few days and see where it goes. I’m just completing writing 20 half-hour sessions of Christian education for congregations in the Presbyterian Church of Aotearoa New Zealand, which has been helpful for making think and write in bite-sized chunks. Plus it’s been helpful in doing some more thinking towards how to frame it as a book
In 2011 and 2012 I undertook a national research project for the Uniting Church in Australia, designed to help the Assembly consider its role in Christian education. The research included a literature review, gathering the views of Assembly staff, a consultation within each synod, and field interviews with 25 people in 21 congregations across Australia. The congregations were selected through a peer recommendation process from synod and presbytery mission and education staff, who were given criteria for selection. The aim was to find congregations and ministers/leaders who were deemed to be effective in Christian education. From about 80 suggested churches and leaders I constructed a sample seeking to reflect the diversity of the Uniting Church in terms of geography, church size, location, demography, theology, ethnicity, ages, gender and sense of mission. Ethnicity and gender were the two most difficult to achieve in terms of balance. The field inteviews took place in mid-2012, and were preceded by four pilot interviews which allowed me to refine my questions. All interviewees allowed me and the UCA to identify them. The interviews lasted 60 minutes to about 90 minutes. Interviewees were mainly ordained ministers, and included three married couples.
I produced an extensive report for the UCA Assembly at the beginning of 2013. My doctoral thesis was submitted in July 2018 and I graduated in December 2018.