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The goal of this study was to explore how inviting church members of Northminster Presbyterian Church (NPC) to cross neighborhood boundaries through the practice of hospitality can stimulate missional innovation and identify adaptive challenges to mission engagement. The thesis was tested by creating holding environments for action-reflection groups to participate in the practices of lectio divina and hospitality. This study offers a thick description of the community context, the congregation’s history, and the practice of leadership. Formal and functional ecclesiologies, as well as impediments to missional life are examined.

Action learning, appreciative inquiry, and participant observation are methodologies used to structure the project of inviting two groups to participate in a twelve-week challenge to dwell in the biblical text of Luke 10:1-12 and cross neighborhood boundaries using the Practicing Hospitality workbook. An appreciative inquiry instrument was used at the start, midpoint, and end of the groups to collect data to assess language use. Participants were followed after the group finished meeting and ongoing data was collected using participant observation. The pastoral leadership team of the church was a focus group to reflect on leadership and authority, using participant observation. An analysis of qualitative data describes themes and how language use reveals ecclesiological and missional imagination.

While these groups struggled to cross neighborhood boundaries, some members demonstrated increased awareness of a missional calling. Leadership, contextual, formation systems, and theological frameworks are reflected upon to identify resources for a local theology of leadership and mission. Opportunities and recommendations for future praxis are explored, as this project is part of a journey of transformation.

Content Reader: Alan J. Roxburgh, DMin

Degree Name

Doctor of Ministry (DMin)

First Advisor

Roxburgh, Alan J.

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Northminster Presbyterian Church (Tucson, Ariz.); Lectio divina; Missional church movement; Christian leadership; Small groups


Missions and World Christianity


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April 2018

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