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The purpose of this project is to create an assessment to be used by the leadership team of SOMA, a church plant in the Evangelical Presbyterian Church. This assessment will help us understand how effectively we are equipping our increasingly diverse membership for missional discipleship in Beaver Falls, Pennsylvania. The first section explores SOMA’s community and ministry contexts. I discuss the marginalizing forces in Beaver Falls and explain the tension between SOMA’s roots in the Reformed tradition and its desire to equip its diverse membership for faithful witness in the city. This tension requires resistance to the culturally-conditioned tendency toward abstraction found in our theological tradition and an encouragement of practices of formation that equip the variety of people in our faith community.
In the second section I first review literature that reflects theologically on social and racial marginalization, on the church’s engagement with the city, and on the kind of discipleship that develops the church’s ministry of reconciliation. I then offer my theological reflections to understand churches as reconciling communities in which people are experiencing the table mutuality of faith in Christ, confessing and repenting of the Western tendency toward abstraction, and embodying Jesus’s incarnation to see discipleship as a whole-person practice that churches should encourage across the distinctive qualities of our members.
In the final section I describe the development of SOMA’s assessment process, by which an Assessment Team solicited, received, and interpreted feedback related to how effectively members of the congregation feel they are being equipped to participate in the missio Dei. The interpretation of that feedback culminated in four recommendations to SOMA’s leadership team regarding how to improve our discipleship ministry. These recommendations both encourage better accessibility for more of our members and highlight our need to continue growing in cultural competency as a church family.
Doctor of Ministry
Evangelical Presbyterian Church, Missions, Discipleship, Reconciliation, City churches
Material is subject to copyright.
de Jeu, Marc, "Building Up the Whole Body: Discipleship in Diverse Urban Community" (2018). Doctor of Ministry Projects. 345.