Date of Award
Doctor of Ministry (DMin)
It is my opinion that North American Christianity needs to re-consider how it communicates to young adults about following after the person of Jesus Christ. The Church should seek to understand the present cultural milieu and the implications of influencing from below. Established Christianity formerly held a position of prestige and relative power. Due to cultural and epistemological shifts this is no longer the situation. The message of Christ is still relevant in the new millennium, but the standard approaches to communicating and thus influencing others in this new world are at times no longer relevant. Much of organized Christianity is relying on pragmatics of communication that is no longer tenable. An understanding and skillful use of the tools and philosophies of influencing others from a position of marginalization is needed for contemporary Christian mission. Others have offered up alternative solutions to this problem. Some have claimed that modem Christianity has simply become too liberalized, no longer holding to fundamentals, and therefore is less effective. They believe the calling for the Church is to stand stronger against the culture and return to a more prophetic posture. Additional voices suggest that Christendom is finally waking up to the fact that much of the supposed revelation in the Bible is little more than flawed ancient attempts at understanding God. The Church has been naive and often oppressive and therefore the Christian message is to join with the program and values of the world by becoming a spiritual community whose main focus is social justice activism. They believe this is the true essence of the mission of Jesus Christ Himself. And finally, another camp suggests the Church has become simply too institutional. Centralized communion is part of the problem. If the people of God would learn to organize themselves in more cutting edge sociological forms, the Church could regain much of its prominence. Though all possible solutions provide grains of truth, I do not believe any of these paths are the key to mission in the present situation. It is my claim that the Church of Jesus Christ needs to learn to influence those outside its walls through a thorough understanding and effective practice of communicating from the margins. This is defined as communicating from a place of weakness. When a person or community is generally disregarded by the populous, different strategies of influence need to be utilized than when they are communicating from a position of power. This work will explore insights from psychology and leadership from below, along with Biblical and theological reflections on the mindset and practices of missional communication in a hostile world. I am proposing a book of personal essays that will serve as an example of what it means to influence others from the margins with the gospel of Jesus Christ. This piece will be written in a popular style, aimed at young adults (aged 20-35), who as most Americans have some familiarity with Christianity, but are increasingly finding it irrelevant to their world views and experiences. Through the book's writing I will attempt to utilize many of the principles and findings discussed here.
Ross, Brian A., "Communicating for Influence: Christian Proclamation from the Margins" (2008). Doctor of Ministry. 516.