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Christians cannot participate in the realization of God’s kingdom if they are too immersed in the kingdoms God seeks to redeem. Current research indicates that several dominant societal patterns have become normative within worshiping communities in contemporary America. Romans 12:1-2 and the precedent of the first century church in Rome indicate that the church is to be a community of faithful nonconformists, resisting influential cultural patterns and participating in the transformative telos of the divine king. This study explores the ecclesial implications of this statement in American context.
First, this work identifies several dominant cultural themes in America and presents research indicating that contemporary worshiping communities have been dramatically shaped by these social constructs. Second, this research presents exegetical commentary on Romans 12:1-2 and socio-cultural analysis of the first century Roman church. It is concluded that Romans 12:1-2 presents an imperative to resist adaptation to cultural patterns that do not align with the will of God, and to become transformed individuals partnering with God’s saving purposes for his creation. This imperative is here identified as kingdom imagination. The first Christians in Rome offer several examples of fidelity to Paul’s exhortation; these are elucidated. Third, this research proposes an ecclesial strategy for engaging in kingdom imagination, concluding that kingdom imagination can be fostered through the implementation of ecclesial frameworks as formative concepts, narratives as formative constructs, rituals as formative customs, and disciplines as formative exercises.
Finally, five particular examples of ecclesial frameworks are presented in this work, each reinforced by a specific narrative, ritual, and discipline. Worshiping communities are encouraged to pursue kingdom imagination through incorporating the five frameworks provided here into their corporate experience. Churches are also encouraged to pursue additional frameworks, thoughtfully adapting the strategy proposed here according to their own contexts, theological emphases, and divine callings.
Content Reader: Chap Clark, PhD
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Crandall, Jonathan W., "Kingdom Imagination and the Church: Fostering Faithful Nonconformity through Ecclesial Practices" (2017). Doctor of Ministry Projects. 267.