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Mountainside Communion—A Church of the Nazarene (hereafter, Mountainside), was founded in 2005. As a new church, Mountainside has enjoyed the freedom to risk, experiment, and even fail at missional ventures. One of the most significant missional initiatives was a four-month commitment to share reciprocal hospitality with an at-risk youth organization called the Monrovia Youth Alliance (hereafter, MYA). Mountainside now needs to build on this initiative, moving from missional experimentation to missional commitment.
This paper has three parts. Part One provides description of the spiritual discernment process Mountainside completed which led to recognizing an adaptive challenge of cultivating missional commitment. The section goes on to examine a series of obstacles in addressing this challenge, namely, Ideal Type Romanticism, how a consumer culture affects Mountainside’s practice of ministry and mission, and how elements of discontinuous change make it difficult to lay roots in local neighborhoods.
Part Two is an exploration of pertinent theological themes for cultivating missional commitment. Working with Galatians 5 along with Charles Taylor’s concept of “social imaginary,” the first chapter in Part Two provides theological and philosophical frameworks for thinking about congregational change.1 The next chapter then describes Mountainside’s current social imaginary, suggesting both boundaries and possibilities in expanding it towards missional commitment. Concepts focused on in this chapter are functional rationality, Eucharistic theology, and Mountainside’s core values of “community” and “hospitality.”
Part Three presents an adaptive approach to moving towards missional commitment with MYA. It introduces four relational events to be participated in by members of Mountainside and MYA which are designed to test how a church might shift the “relational descriptions” of the participants, thus expanding its “social imaginary,” thus moving it towards deeper missional commitment. The section closes by presenting the research of the project as well as providing analysis and evaluation.
Theological Mentor: Kurt Fredrickson, PhD
1 Charles Taylor, Modern Social Imaginaries (Durham and London: Duke University Press, 2004).
Material is subject to copyright.
Smith, Joshua R., "Cultivating Missional Commitment: Sharing Reciprocal Hospitality with the Monrovia Youth Alliance" (2011). Doctor of Ministry Projects. 64.