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Desiring to differentiate itself from the other two Christian Reformed congregations in Ripon, California, Almond Valley Christian Reformed Church’s (hereafter, AVCRC) desire from its beginning in 1978 was to be a church with doors open to the entire Ripon community. With many Christian Reformed Church (hereafter, CRC) congregations experiencing diminishing denominational loyalty, there is a strong desire for church leaders to imagine new ways of being connected to their communities. With previous pastoral training focused on serving the congregation, pastors are now in a position of needing to learn the skills of how to meaningfully engage the community. One significant initiative in AVCRC was a three-month commitment by a small group who devoted themselves to learning from community leaders and reimagining mission and pastoral vocation from the perspective of their neighbors.
This doctoral project reports and reflects on that experience. It has four sections. Part One names my adaptive challenge and addresses the theological heritage of the CRC with special emphasis on what Dutch immigrants held most important in establishing themselves in North America. Part Two presents an experiment to facilitate reimagining mission and pastoral vocation by utilizing hospitality, listening, and reflection to understand our neighbors and gain new insights about the broader community as seen from key leaders within the community. Part Three consists of reflections on the new learning coming out of this work integrating theoretical and experiential insights in areas including theology, vocation, context, and leadership. Finally, Part Four presents recommendations for acting on how this project changed the understanding of mission and pastoral vocation. Specifically, it identifies the importance of trust throughout the congregational system, especially as it relates to the role of the pastor and his leadership in and outside the walls of the church.
Content Reader: Alan Roxburgh, DMin
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Wicker, Lloyd S., "Learning from Neighbors: Reimagining Mission and Pastoral Vocation" (2016). Doctor of Ministry Projects. 220.