Funk-Pihl, Marjorie. 2020. “Living the Resurrection and Loving Our Neighbors.” Fuller Theological Seminary, School of Intercultural Studies. Doctor of Intercultural Studies Degree. 220 pp.
To love God with all your heart, soul and mind is the same as to love your neighbor as yourself. This is the wisdom Jesus offered in Mark 12:30-31 and Luke 10:27. This is the Lutheran Biblical missiology at the foundation of the congregational vitality process called Living the Resurrection (LtR) that I developed, implemented and evaluated for this research process.
Increased mobility has increased immigration and migration throughout the USA and provided the opportunity for Christians to express love for a great diversity of neighbors. However, Chapter 2 shows that our human needs for safety and belonging have pulled us into homogeneous communities that isolated us from those who are not like us. Racism and other “isms” that separate neighbor from neighbor show that we have been unsuccessful in living into God’s commands.
For this project I worked with small ELCA congregations in Southern California who had an average worship attendance of under sixty and limited staff. More importantly, they had minimal to non-existent relationships with their physical neighbors. The changes involved in expanding their love for one another to include love for their neighbors had the potential to trigger their defense mechanisms and cause them to resist the process. Chapter 3 demonstrates that Appreciative Inquiry’s ability to motivate change and minimize anxiety makes it the optimal change strategy for LtR.
In Part 2 I explain the research process of this dissertation and how it overlaps with the LtR vitality process. Insider Action Research in the Appreciative Inquiry mode provided the methodology for this project and allowed me to develop, implement and evaluate the LtR process with two consecutive groups of congregations. The adjustments I make between the first and second cycles are explained in Chapter 6.
Part 3 celebrates that eight of the twelve congregations who completed the LtR process significantly strengthened their relationships with their neighbors. The findings of the second cycle also suggested improvements for the third cycle which may lead to even better results. God’s love can motivate us to love our neighbors.
Mentor’s Name: Dr. Steven Sage Word Count: 338
|Advisor:||Sage, Steve, Shenk, Wilbert|
|Commitee:||Brock, Timothy, Lamote, Vandyke|
|School:||Fuller Theological Seminary, School of Intercultural Studies|
|Department:||School of Intercultural Studies|
|School Location:||United States -- California|
|Source:||DAI-A 81/11(E), Dissertation Abstracts International|
|Subjects:||Religion, Social research, Biblical studies|
|Keywords:||Appreciative inquiry, Change strategy, Congregational vitality, Contextual, Strengthen, Vitality process|
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