Date of Award
Doctor of Ministry (DMin)
Scattered throughout communities in the U.S. are Christians who have returned home following a season of living and ministering overseas. Many returnees experience a lingering sense of disorientation and disconnection that has been described as feeling like “a stranger at home” or “everything sort of fits but not quite.” Relationships with family and local friends are often affected in ways that are unclear, uncanny, and unexpected. Spiritual companionship is disrupted as returnees and local Christian friends become partial strangers to one another. Reconnection is further hindered when disorientation, unsettledness, and ambiguity are not well understood, acknowledged, and supported in many Christian settings. This dissertation explores how Christians in disorienting life circumstances can reconnect in genuine spiritual companionship with other Christians who have not experienced similar circumstances.
Section One discusses common characteristics of reentry transition and implications for spiritual formation in community. Section Two identifies resources related to transitions, reentry, and spiritual formation in community and evaluates potential benefits and deficiencies regarding the ministry problem. Section Three presents a solution integrating identified missing elements: (1) a theological and Christian spirituality framework for disorienting and isolating life circumstances; (2) greater awareness of and more adequate response to the disorientation and ambiguity inherent in reentry transition and other disorienting life situations; and (3) an approach to cultivating spiritual companionship in life together in Christ that recognizes disorientation and ambiguity as integral parts of spiritual formation. The artifact is a handbook and devotional guide that incorporates these components. It is written for Christians who desire spiritual companionship but feel stuck in the process due to life complications. The artifact’s overall goal is to help Christians take steps toward engaging in spiritual companionship in ways that are individually and mutually attentive and responsive to God’s loving presence and redemptive purposes in life’s varied complicated circumstances.
Hutchinson, Gail, "Missionary Reentry Transition and Disrupted Spiritual Friendships: An Introduction to Practical Theological Consideration of Transition and Ambiguity in Life Together in Christ" (2017). Doctor of Ministry. 227.