The architecture of participation: Examining the role and function of a rule of life in a Christian congregational setting
LE3 .A278 2017
Doctor of Ministry
Acadia Divinity College
This thesis explores the ministry potential of a rule of life to assist the formation of Christians into a people of God, cultivating a robust Christian identity and vocation, lived as a community and rooted in the realities of the God’s triune life. It seeks a ressourcement of the Christian tradition of corporate spiritual formation found in a common or shared rule of life. Along with a biblical and theological study, a qualitative study was conducted to investigate the role and function a rule of life might play within an urban, Canadian congregational setting. The results of this study indicate a positive impact on the spiritual formation of research participants. The thesis outlines biblical foundations for a rule of life, noting defining themes and contours of a rule of life, showing a discernible composition of rhythms, relationships and renunciations. It sketches out historical-theological touchstones, looking at the post-apostolic church, monasticism, John Calvin, current ecclesial practices literature and the work of James K.A. Smith’s Cultural Liturgies project. It includes a qualitative action research project, involving research subjects who participated in a shared rule of life for a two month period. The thesis concludes by outlining a ministry model for implementing a rule of life within an urban congregational setting. The ministry model incorporates an ordered spiritual community living a rule of life within, as part of, and for the sake of a given congregation, along with a congregational practice-based program of spiritual formation that mirrors the rule of life.
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