Date of Award
Doctor of Ministry (DMin)
Dr. Christine Roush
The mental health crisis, rising individualism, polarization and conflict aversion are key factors preventing Canadians from building the bonds necessary for individual and communal flourishing. Communal Christian resilience will be characterized by love across differences. Drawing on psychology and neuro-theology, this paper suggests communal practices of eating, play, service and prayer will contribute to reducing anxiety, moving responses from the sympathetic to the parasympathetic region of the brain. By activating neurogenesis and utilizing storytelling to encourage neuro-coupling, collaborative meaning-making can effectively build resilient communities.
The table facilitates exchange that encourages personal histories and cultural expressions to be shared. It provides natural space for ritual. As it engages all the senses, participants become fully present enabling deeper connection.
Play reduces anxiety by eliminating the goal of productivity in favour of creativity, attentive presence and social adaptation. Neuroplasticity is increased through contexts of measured and appropriate exposure to risk, ideally outdoors. Play can function therapeutically by implementing methods from gradual exposure therapy. Time together will increase familiarity with each other, reducing suspicion and encouraging a favourable polyvagal response.
Serving one another and the community encourages interdependence and provides shared experiences through which communal narratives arise. As well, resilience is increased through meaningful actions. This is demonstrated, as diverse capabilities are offered to meet diverse needs, and where the value—rather than the difficulty of difference—is emphasized.
Corporate prayer invites cultural and personal expressions of faith. It encourages invitational vulnerability, whereby the sharing of oneself creates hospitable space for another. Shared longing for transcendence creates an opportunity for the Holy Spirit to shape the story of the group's particular identity.
By practicing community across difference, the church might reclaim an influence on society by modelling how to best practice an existing cultural ideal in a manner that improves individual and corporate resiliency.
Burnett, Jenn Rombeek, "Invitational Vulnerability: Practices that Increase Communal Resiliency by Nurturing Belonging Across Difference" (2021). Doctor of Ministry. 414.