"So Now What?" Using the New Science to Design a Flexible and Adaptable Spiritual Growth Process for New and Returning Believers in the Local Church
This dissertation addresses the need for spiritual-growth opportunities in the local church for new adult Christians and those adults who are returning to the church after years of absence. This dissertation will identify concepts from the 'new science' of quantum mechanics, chaos theory, and complexity theory to suggest elements for the creation of a flexible and adaptable spiritual-growth process.
I use the New Testament to address two assumptions of the thesis: that the spiritual growth of followers of Jesus Christ is a process of spiritual transformation that rests not a one-time conversion event but occurs over a lifetime of dynamic growth, and that the spiritual growth of believers is designed to occur in community with other believers, in the church. I next examine the new science of quantum mechanics, chaos theory, and complexity theory and derive six concepts from them that a local church could use in designing a spiritual-growth process.
I then examine the catechumenate of the early centuries of the church (particularly Augustine's De Catechizandis Rudibus), the Spiritual Exercises of Ignatius, John Wesley's class meetings, and the Willow Creek Community Church small-group model to discern ways in which the church has tried to help new believers in the church to grow in their relationship to Jesus Christ. I consider ways in which these models interface with the six concepts from the new science set out in chapter four as well as additional insights that these models offer. In the last chapter, I use an example to suggest the kind of process that I envision. I apply the six concepts proposed from the new science, ideas from the historical models studied, and ideas from the example to propose elements for the creation of a spiritual-growth process.