Integration Paper Thoughts: Congregational Spiritual Formation

Usually I am several months ahead in coming up with potential research paper topics, but for the final two Wesley Seminary praxis courses (Congregational Spiritual Formation and Congregational Relationships) I have not come up with anything solid. This is especially frustrating because spiritual formation is supposed to be one of my strengths. Here are the two ideas I have been tossing around for spiritual formation.

  1. Since starting seminary, we have been exposed to a variety of small group types, from Sunday school to sermon based small groups. Recently, Lighthouse has begun Growth Groups, putting new small groups on a 12 week cycle to help promote new groups being formed, easy entry and exit for individuals into small groups, the reuse and structure of curriculum, and the engagement of small groups in the community. My question here would be similar to my question from last semester. Is there one small group model that is best for a multi-ethnic multi-generational church, or does our diversity require that we adopt multiple models?
  2. Every year at the PSWD annual meeting there is a line item in the agenda under “Reports” that says, “Wesleyan Men: No Report Submitted.” The Wesleyan Women always have a robust report, and have recently approved a reorganization as they move into the future. Where are the Wesleyan Men? My guess is that in some districts there is a functioning Wesleyan Men’s organization. I also guess that many of the men who could be potential leaders for Wesleyan Men are on an ordination track, and so are not being trained to work as lay leaders or have their sights set on pastoring a church rather than organizing a men’s ministry. (Here I find it interesting that The Wesleyan Church also ordains women as pastors, and this causes no shortage of leaders for Wesleyan Women. In fact, I would also guess that there are a significant number of Wesleyan Women leaders that are ordained.) It took several years for our local church men’s ministry (LMM) to get the right leaders and activities that our men wanted to be involved with, and we still have room to improve. There are several questions I could research on this topic. Is Wesleyan Men necessary for male spiritual formation? How do we properly staff and utilize Wesleyan Men for spiritual formation? Does male dominated church leadership cripple men’s spiritual formation among laity?

Any thoughts?

©2011 Paul Tillman

3 thoughts on “Integration Paper Thoughts: Congregational Spiritual Formation”

  1. Paul – Your first idea dovetails nicely with several of the workshops we’ll be hitting this semester, and I think opens itself up to deeper research opportunities and both biblical and theological integration…Just my humble opinion…

  2. I like your Integration Paper idea too, Paul.

    On a side note, our way of having “Wesleyan Women” and “Wesleyan Men” in itself has long made me feel uncomfortable. It’s not that I have a problem with individuals doing things together by gender. I have no objection in theory to these groupings. What makes me nervous is that I feel quite confident that on the grass roots level these groups play into rather oversimplified stereotypes about what women and men are, as well as into the rather unwesleyan ideas floating around about what “biblical” concepts of manhood and womanhood are.

    I think you’re going to have a great class with Prof. Derr…

  3. Right now I’m leaning with option 1, but the idea of exploring if should we have seperate male and female spiritual formation has me really thinking. That would be a fun topic.

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