Date of Award
Doctor of Ministry (DMin)
Nijay Gupta, PhD
Lori Wagner, PhD
This dissertation explores how local churches can help lay people live incarnational lives of reaching out and connecting or building relationships in their communities with the potential to share the gospel. To live an incarnational life means to allow Jesus to live through you in a way that changes your life and allows you to do what you otherwise could not do on your own. To live the life of a disciple or follower fosters a missional mindset and the desire to build relationships. To spring off of Len Sweet’s concept of MRI (Missional, Relational and Incarnational)1 I will explore how the church can better develop a discipleship training that focuses on missional, relational and incarnational thinking. A relationship with Jesus is necessary and relying on Jesus’ power, presence, strength, and courage which in turn will help to foster a missional attitude.
This type of discipleship is “others” focused and “outward” focused. The MRI model views missional not as a program, but rather living life as God intended, and relationships not as something followers do, but rather what faith is, and incarnational is not what followers do but how Christians live.2 Today more than perhaps ever before, our communities are in great need. Foundational in outreach to neighborhoods is focusing on others and observing potential needs in communities. Communities have households where people come and go from their homes without having any idea who the individuals are that live beside them or around them. Living in such isolation hinders human interaction and connection. This dynamic manifests itself in the church as guests come and then often leave after a short time because they haven’t “connected” or built relationships with others in the church. While the internet has made global connections possible in a superficial way, it may be influencing how individuals live disconnected in our society leaving people hungry for purposeful and meaningful connections and relationships. The church has failed in connecting and instead has turned inward on itself, forming a discipleship that is shared only with its own people.
1 Leonard Sweet. So Beautiful, Divine Design for Life and the Church (Colorado Springs, CO: 2009), 27. 2 Ibid.
Willey, Lisa A., "Rethinking Evangelism as Discipleship: Equipping Followers to Live Incarnational Lives Outside the Walls" (2019). Doctor of Ministry. 296.