• Postsecular Rapprochement: A Strategic Model for Church Engagement in a Postwelfare, Post-regeneration Age

      Baker, Christopher T. H.; Llewellyn, Dawn; Jones, Margaret A. (University of Chester, 2017-08)
      Since the global financial crisis of 2008-9 and the deficit reduction measures introduced by the British government from 2011, a new strategic deinstitutionalized model of community engagement has begun to emerge to address issues of social justice and environmental concern. Cloke (2011) identifies this new space of engagement as ‘rapprochement’. This research develops this concept, arguing that this organic, radical, social enterprise form of partnership offers the Established Church1 a potential means to engage in community-based social action in a postwelfare, post-regeneration age. A redistribution of power that seeks to enable agency and release enterprise, innovation and hope is at the heart of this new community-based model of partnership. These innovative enterprises are particularly evident in inner urban areas, although it is a model also appropriate for suburban and rural communities. This fresh model of partnership is a consequence of a developing nexus between rapprochement and austerity. Rapprochement emerges in what Habermas (2001 onwards) identifies as the postsecular. This acknowledges that religion, despite expectations to the contrary (Wilson 1982; Bruce 2002), continues to have a significant role in the public square. The global financial crisis and austerity measures imposed by the last two governments (2010-2015; 2015-2017) reflect a neo-liberal ideology leaving those least able to cope increasingly vulnerable and in need of support. A hermeneutic ethnographic approach accesses the experiences of leaders engaged in public, private and third sector organizations in a time of on-going austerity and considers their knowledge and understanding of partnership working. Data consists of 14 interviews and is triangulated with participant observation in two partnerships identified as examples of rapprochement. Case study helps clarify understandings of this new form of partnership. Dynamics characterizing these organic partnerships include a deep respect for hermeneutical integrity; a desire to create a sense of place, rather than space; a transformative form of hospitality and a style of leadership that enables the different stakeholders to acquire and develop a sense of agency. Innovative frameworks clarifying these dynamics include ideas of postsecularity, progressive localism, smart pluralism, and enablement. Alongside terms like personal responsibility, passion and vision, usual in partnership vocabulary, the research uncovered a more nuanced and sophisticated lexicon. This includes terms such as autonomy, brokering and process enablers. Rapprochement primarily encapsulates a person’s love for their neighbour. Those engaged in these partnerships practise a welcome engendering inclusivity, which offers a fresh theological understanding of hospitality. It also suggests a distinct theological understanding of leadership, espousing a model that draws others in, helping them to discover their gifts and constantly expanding and sharing leadership. This strategic deinstitutionalized model of partnership offers the Established Church an opportunity to join with others and to show, through praxis and community engagement, God’s bias for the poor and his longing for their enablement.
    • Towards Convers(at)ion: Postmodernism, Evangelism and the Emerging Church

      Knowles, Steve; Wade, William (University of Chester, 2016-01)
      When the Manic Street Preachers labelled their 1998 album 'This is My Truth Tell Me Yours', it was more than just a marketing gimmick. It was capturing the mood of an emerging generation. It is argued that the age we find ourselves in is currently being shaped to one degree or another by postmodern philosophy. It is a philosophy what has purportedly infiltrated sections of Western society, replacing rational, scientific reasoning with subjective relativism, a reticence towards objective truth claims and the questioning of a societal framework of morality. One particular section of Western society which is wrestling with postmodernism's claims and influences is the Western Church. This is not unusual, as the church has had to deal with cultural change and even crisis in its long history. However, the philosophy of postmodernism has the potential (either positively or negatively) to not only strike at the heart of the ecclesiology of the contemporary Church, but significantly at its theology, and specifically at its missiology.