Applying collective narrative practices in local churches : a study exploring to what extent narrative practices can facilitate re-authoring conversations around the church’s role in development.
Bishop, Kym Elizabeth.
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Emerging from the struggle many churches seem to experience in engaging with issues of injustice, and the role of the church in the development discourse, this research aims to investigate to what extent Narrative Practices, when applied in local church congregations, can facilitate new conversations around what it means to be the church in society today. In order to address this question, this research first explores the Narrative Approach. Asking what Collective Narrative Practices local congregations can participate in that would give space for new stories around the church’s role in society brings into focus the specific contribution of Narrative Practices to communities and groups. The research then moves on to investigate the unique contributions of theology to the development discourse and our understanding of The Church. With the purpose of the research being to explore the possible relationship that exists between Narrative Practices, Theology and Development praxis within the local church, establishing the foundational theory that would inform the practical application of Narrative Practices in local church contexts is the primary focus. This study has revealed four key areas of intersection that exist between Narrative, Theology and Development: conscientization, a de-centred approach, hope and active/responsible citizenship. It is the finding of this research that Narrative Practices have the potential to be a powerful tool for analysing social contexts, encouraging new ways of reflecting theologically on development, and the church’s role in development, and moving people to new kinds of action, when the map of Narrative Practice that is designed takes into account these intersections. The significance of these findings, and of the research, is the potential Narrative Practices hold for enabling new conversations around the role of the church in development.