This book presents the first comprehensive introduction to congregational studies in the UK. Through a series of innovative essays, it explores the difference that the increasingly post-Christian nature of British society is making to life in Christian congregations, and compares this to the very different scenario which exists in the USA.
Contributions from leading scholars in the field include rich case studies of local communities and theoretical analyses which reflect on issues of method and develop broader understandings. Congregational studies is revealed as a rich and growing field of interest to scholars across many disciplines and to those involved in congregational life.
Contents: Introduction; Part 1 The Emerging Field: Congregational studies: taking stock, Linda Woodhead, Mathew Guest and Karin Tusting; The rise of congregational studies in the USA, Arthur Farnsley; 'Conference people': congregational studies in a globalizing world, Simon Coleman. Part 2 Congregations in the UK: The effects of evangelical renewal on congregational identities: a Welsh case study, Paul Chambers; 'Friendship, fellowship and acceptance': the public discourse of a thriving evangelical congregation, Mathew Guest; Display and division: congregational conflict among Roman Catholics, Peter McGrail; Congregations, narratives and identity: a Quaker case study, Peter Collins; Congregational cultures and the boundaries of identity, Timothy Jenkins. Part 3 Theoretical And Methodological Issues: The messiness of studying congregations using ethnographic methods, Frances Ward; Are congregations associations? The contribution of organizational studies to congregational studies?, Helen Cameron; Priests, parish and people: reconceiving a relationship, Douglas Davies; Denominational cultures: the Cinderella of congregational studies?, Philip Richter; The significance of gender for congregational studies, Kristin Aune; Putting congregational studies to work: ethnography, consultancy and change, Martin Stringer. Index.
Reviews: 'This book is a lively demonstration of the utility of studying congregations - not just in the presumably-religious U.S., but also in the presumably-secular U.K. From sociology and anthropology and organizational studies and theology come insightful accounts of the cultures and impact of local religious communities. This book is a major advance in congregational studies that will be eagerly read on both sides of the Atlantic.'
Nancy T. Ammerman, Professor of Sociology of Religion, Boston University
'Congregational Studies has had a higher profile in the United States - through the work of such people as Nancy Ammerman, Kirk Hadaway and Penny Becker - than it has to date in the UK. This book reveals that Congregational Studies is beginning to take off in the UK, and it maps the different ways in which this is at last happening. Academic social scientists and church leaders alike have much to learn from this very welcome book.'
Professor Robin Gill, University of Kent, Canterbury, UK
'... the book will be especially valuable to teachers and students on courses in contextual and pastoral theology, or preparing for church-based placements. Insights gleaned from this book will expand students' capacities to describe and interpret the situations they observe and in which they participate, and show how to begin to trace perspectives that will compliment, critique, adjust or subvert theology as it is being taught in other parts of the syllabus.'
The Journal of Adult Theological Education
'There is much to be learned from this interesting book... the book will be especially valuable to teachers and students on courses in contextual and pastoral theology, or preparing for church-based placements. Insights gleaned from this book will expand students' capacities to describe and interpret the situations they observe and in which they participate, and show how to begin to trace perspectives that will compliment, critique, adjust or subvert theology as it is being taught in other parts of the syllabus.'
Journal of Adult Theological Education
Dr Mathew Guest has a profile page on the Durham University website and an Academia profile
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