Thursday, April 11, 2024

stashes as research methods in researching making

coding I’m writing!!

As I planned the 2024 year, I set aside April and May to progress analysis and writing on the Ordinary Knitters research project. Since Ordinaryknitters began, I have been privileged to interview 43 people from 4 countries who knitted for a public project, collected over the last few years.

There are knitters who cared for their community by making Christmas angels. Other knitters cared for creation by knitting climate scarves, encouraged peace-stitches through “French knitting” peace loom installations or personalised their place through knitting remembrance poppies. Each person making as a way of connecting their Christian faith in public ways with the wider world.

To understand these experiences of making, I’m using reflexive thematic analysis. Reflexive thematic analysis values three things. First, the intuitions and interests of the researcher. Second, the unfolding nature of analysis. Third, the ways in which the particularity of one experience can illuminate the particularity of another experience.

I see reflexive thematic analysis as a way of making. I’m sifting through a rich stash of wool. My stash is unique, shaped by the active role my interests and networks have played in gathering the wool. I compare balls of wool, believing that fresh and new connections can emerge as different colours and textures (interview quotes and stories) are laid alongside each other. As I make, the unique colours of each ball will remain. In all I do, gathering, comparing, knitting, my craft as a maker will be visible. Yet the whole will be greater than the individual parts.

Practically, I undertake reflexive thematic analysis not with an existing set of themes to look for. Rather, I read “reflexively.” I start with the first interview and read it noting what I think are key words (codes).

I try to cluster these key words (codes) around big ideas (themes). I read further interviews. As I do, I work in “pencil” (reflexively) because the key words (codes) and conversation (themes) shift as I read. The experience of one knitter invites more codes, or a reworking of a theme, to better cluster a range of unique experiences. These reflexive changes require me to reread the earlier interviews. As a result, experiences from a range of interview are informing the experiences of another interviews.

I track the shifts in reflexivity by using mind maps and tables. These make visible my unfolding analysis. The mindmaps and tables allow me to keep track of my decisions and reflect (reflexively) on my assumptions.

This approach, of reflexive thematic analysis – assumes that I as a researcher have an interest and a set of values (why else would I be asking for an interview) which I bring to the interview and the analysis. This approach assumes that naming my interests and the way I make decisions will decrease the chance of imposing my research agenda on those being interviewed. It also assumes that insights emerge over time, particularly as the uniqueness of each interview is brought into conversation with the uniqueness of other interviews.

I love the making of reflexive thematic analysis.

Posted by steve at 10:24 AM | Comments (0)

Tuesday, November 21, 2023

spreading the word: making as a way of being in the world in the Ordinary Knitters research project

different types of wool on a shelf. Photo by Paul Hanaoka from Unsplash It’s a big week of interviews this week in the Ordinaryknitters research project. I’m loving chatting with knitters – this week in England, New Zealand and Australia – about remembrance poppies and climate scarves and knitting in public places.

We’re “spreading the word” commented someone this morning. What a lovely phrase and we then enjoyed thinking about how things that are made can spread “words”. And what “words” are these made things spreading. It’s all so fascinating to reflect on how making is a way of being in the world.

There is show and tell, of garments and pictures of knitted things in public places. There are stories, of how making enhances well being, builds community and creates connections.

In a few weeks I hope to shift from interviews and begin analysing for shared themes across the nearly 40 people I have interviewed to date. I’m looking for ways to analyse interview transcripts for emotion, in order to try and capture the joy and passion of those I interview.

Posted by steve at 10:46 AM

Monday, October 16, 2023

Church as sail blown by the wind

Last weekend I spent several hours sitting with Te Rā, the last known Māori customary sail. Te Rā, housed for over 200 years at the British Musuem, is part of the “Navigating Home” exhibition at the Christchurch Art Gallery. I spent so long with Te Rā that an Art Gallery staff person came across to ask what I did for a day job.

Over the week, I found myself returning to the sail and making connections with Christian identity and being church. So on Sunday, I did a switch of the lectionary readings and preached about Te Rā, introducing the sail and making 3 connections to John 3:8.

  • Made to move – while many images of the church are static (temple, church buildings), a sail is made to move. Being on the move connects with Jesus invitation to follow (Matthew 4:19), to be blown by the wind of the Spirit (John 3:8) and cross to the other side (Mark 4:35)
  • Practically beautiful/beautifully practical – we tend to think of art as hanging beautifully in galleries. Yet Te Rā has practical purpose, yet offers aesthetic delight. Those born of the wind in John 3:8 are called to follow Jesus as the way, the truth and the life in John 14:6. The call to follow Jesus is not about being hung in art gallery for display, but for life Monday to Friday portraying the beauty of God’s Kingdom here on earth
  • One knot among many – the focus of John 3:8 is everyone born from above. Similarly, Te Rā is a collective of knots, each unique and each part of something bigger. The church together is invited to catch the wind of God’s Spirit

To end the sermon, I gave out sails cut from paper in a similar shape to Te Rā. People were invited to draw or use stickers to depict something unique about this local church as God’s sail. And a skewer to hold their sail aloft. The sails could be taken home or placed in the offering.  By way of example, a sail I drew and took home, plus an unused one.

paper sails

Key resources for this sermon were not just the Bible commentaries. For general information about Māori craft and weaving, I turned to Crafting Aotearoa: A Cultural History of Making in New Zealandand the Wider Moana Oceania and Te Puna Wairoa: The Distinguished Weavers of Te Kāhui Whiritoi.

general books on Māori craft

To understand Te Rā and think about Māori Christian connections with weaving, I drew on Te Rā: The Māori Sail by Ariana Tikao and Mat Tait (2023) and Ka Tuituia Tātoa e Te Aho Tapu/The Sacred Thread that Weaves us Together by Council for Anglican Women’s Studie (2018).

more general books on Māori craft

As people shared about their sails, the connections made with the identity of the church were deep, rich and meaningful.

Posted by steve at 03:59 PM

Monday, October 02, 2023

Keeping faith in divine service at AngelWings Ltd

holding Keeping Faith book I recently reviewed Keeping Faith: How Organisations can stay true to the way of Jesus by Stephen Judd, John Swinton and Kara Martin for the Australian Journal of Mission Studies. Wonderful was the response from a grateful editor and the 840-word review will be published in December 2023. (This was a first output from our “rummaging in the research stash” season I chatted about last week).

The phrase “keeping faith” is a fascinating way to understand the research work we do at AngelWings Ltd. Organisations want to keep faith with funders, so they contract us to evaluate change projects and innovations in mission and ministry. Organisations want to keep faith with their founding vision, so we work with them to review programmes and gain stakeholder feedback on future plans.

Every organisation has a unique charism. Marist priest, Gerald Arbuckle in Refounding the Church: Dissent for Leadership talks about the need of every organisation to go back to their roots. While Christian organisations have a shared story in the life, death and resurrection of Jesus, every organisation lives that story in unique ways. I connect Arbuckle’s refounding with the gifts and graces of the Spirit. As Romans 12:3-7 reminds us, there is one body and many members, one Spirit giving different gifts. So every organisation needs to work to continually refound itself in relation to their unique gifts.

We at AngelWings Ltd provide outside eyes and grassroots feedback to help organisations in refounding. Sometimes we interview and conduct focus groups and through listening at grassroots, next steps are discerned. Other times we survey or provide demographic data, collating experiences across multiple stakeholders. Or we read recent cutting edge literature and bring each organisation’s particularity into conversation with current best practice.

In every case, we are listening, seeking to understand the unique gifts by which the organisation might “keep faith.” Every project is unique, as we bring a range of research methods to offer bespoke solutions. If your organisations needs some refounding, then do be in touch for a pro-bono conversation, to see if we at AngelWings Ltd might be to service (kiwidrsteve @ gmail dot com).

Posted by steve at 01:39 PM

Thursday, September 28, 2023

rummaging in the research stash

Stash – defined as a store or supply of something, typically one that is kept hidden or secret.

brightly coloured objects

Photo by Chris Hardy on Unsplash

I’m currently enjoying rummaging through my research stash. I’ve had a deadline pressured 14 months, delivering 6 different substantial research projects to various groups in Australia, New Zealand and Scotland. It’s meant days, weeks and months of deadlines, in which a whole range of personal and pro-bono research projects have been paused. It’s also meant the bulk of my research, reading and thinking has been less than visible, as I have served the specific internal needs of these organisations.

I currently have a bit more space and with that space I am enjoying rummaging back through my research stash. There are copious computer files. There are books in piles on the floor. There are audio interviews on the Iphone and Zoom storage. There are scribbled ideas in my personal life journal.

As I rummage, I have identified three types of outputs

  • Short pieces, like book reviews of missiology books I’ve read, along with blog-like pieces
  • Journal articles, that develop the insights gained from the research, while working within the confidentiality frameworks agreed with those among whom I have researched
  • Book project, a longer piece of work, gathering up my interest in craftivism over the last 5 years, conducting more interviews as part of the Ordinary Knitters research project and seeing if there is a potential book project on the craft of mission among what is now a substantial file of work

AngelWings Ltd exists to resource the church and so rummaging through the stash is part of exploring what has been tucked away out of of sight, and what might be made appropriately visible.

It’s also been a lot of fun. Like on Tuesday, opening an evernote file of notes on a book, and realising the 1400 words of notes could, with a few hours work, become a book review for an Australian missiology journal. Which was sent this morning. A book review of Keeping Faith: How Christian organisations can stay true to the way of Jesus – submitted to Australian Journal of Mission Studies.

Now what’s next in the research stash?

Posted by steve at 09:38 AM

Friday, July 21, 2023

write-streams for AngelWings Ltd

work desk with writing symbols On the AngelWings Ltd work desk sits my current writing map. I have 2 empirical research projects that are due to industry stakeholders in the next 2 weeks. They involve a lot of data – together amounting to 76 interviews and focus groups, along with 120 survey responses. All collected over the last 11 weeks.

One of the projects has the joy of working with a team, so the writing and editing are shared. But others in the team have other workstreams. So a daily writing map is needed to apportion time and keep projects moving.

Around the writing map are my ending symbols. In ending every research project, I find a symbol expressing the project’s uniqueness. They watch me as I work. “You’ve done this before – juggled, drafted, edited.” They give me confidence.

And hope.

Because soon, there will be time to choose another ending symbol. Or, in this case, two!

Posted by steve at 09:47 AM

Friday, June 09, 2023

AngelWings Review of Missional Needs and Opportunities for Synod South Australia

A piece of research I’m part of doing with AngelWings Ltd has been written up in New Times, the online magazine of the Uniting Church Synod of South Australia (New Times – April/May 2023).

The Murray River mouth is one of the more dramatic places in South Australia to consider transitions. Upstream floods create new channels, while drought increases pressure on fish and migratory wading birds flying in from Alaska. Those living near the river mouth and close to the Coorong know things constantly change.

Aware of constant change, the Mission and Leadership Development Board has commissioned a Missional Review of Needs and Opportunities. The review seeks to clarify missional priorities, develop creative options and to identify threats, and is being undertaken by AngelWings Ltd, a New Zealand organisation. The three researchers – Steve Taylor, Lynne Taylor and Kayli Taylor – bring different professional skills to the mix.

They also share experience having lived in Adelaide and been among the Uniting Church in South Australia between 2010 and 2015. One special family memory was watching Narrandjerri elder Uncle Tom Trevorrow dig into the sand at the Murray Mouth. The water Uncle Tom offered was fresh, not salted. It was a powerful experience of how water exists in surprising places.

Those serving in Christian ministry today face shifting pressures and new opportunities in offering Christ’s Living Waters (John 4). The global pandemic has opened new channels for connection yet generated increased pressures on local communities seeking to nurture faith and express God’s love.

Over thirteen weeks between May and July, the review will seek to understand these needs and opportunities. There will be many different ways to engage:

  • Lunchtime conversations during the Synod meeting, 22nd-24th June
  • Listening through focus groups with Presbyteries and Synod
  • 1:1 conversations with existing Mission Resourcing staff
  • Investigating new approaches to mission resourcing beyond South Australia
  • A Synod-wide online survey of missional needs
  • An online survey of how Ministers stay up-to-date in mission thinking
  • A snapshot of resourcing being currently promoted in local congregations.

To receive weekly updates, please connect to the online website located at here.

 

It’s so good to be reconnecting with a part of the church I served between 2010 and 2015 and to be offering a diverse range of research strategies to offer missional clarity.

Posted by steve at 10:46 PM

Monday, May 22, 2023

The rich uniqueness of Scent in Lent 2023

Scent in Lent

Scent in Lent 2023 was a first, as strangers gathered online to smell the pages of Scripture. Like wine tasting, inhaling a deep, long breath of Scripture created new connections, revealed hidden flavours and brought the Bible alive.

Some of the aromas, like tears, shed outside the grave of Lazarus, are subtle. Other odours are strong, like the pungent smell of leather making or the heady scent of perfume wiped into dirty feet. Whether subtle or strong, these aromas invite us on spiritual journeys.

Held over six weeks in March 2023, Scent in Lent offered an online experience of spiritual practice. Hosted by Steve Taylor, Director AngelWings Ltd, each gathering invited the smelling of Scripture, sharing experiences and joining in participatory prayer.

Scent in Lent 2023 created new connections. Participants began as strangers, registering from 6 different towns and cities. Even though participants never physically met, memories of childhood smell quickly created connections and built community.

Hidden flavours emerged as participants explored the sense of smell in further individual activity. Each online session ended with practical suggestions for the following week. Some participants asked family members to brainstorm “smelly” Bible passages and, amid the laughter, experienced deeper spiritual connections across generations. Other participants smelt their streets or a nearby drain after rain. Together each realised how a small act like picking up rubbish could change the aroma of their community.

Scent in Lent 2023 made Scripture come alive. The pages of Scripture are packed with pungent aromas, and participants loved the idea of “sense-gesis.” Exegesis is defined as the interpretation of a text. Attention to the senses, particularly smell, provokes different questions in interpreting familiar texts.

Each week a Bible passage was read three times. In between each reading, participants breathed the passage deeply, then shared the aromas of Christian witness they sensed in the pages of Scripture. As participants grew in confidence with sense-egesis, they began to identify similar scents in other Scripture passages. “The insights were extraordinary,” observed Steve Taylor. “For one participant, the smell of river water, as Paul preached in Philippi, connected with crossing the Jordan. People were excited to read the Bible more closely.”

It is tempting to stereotype online learning as “dis-embodied.” Yet sharing sensory experiences demonstrated the rich potential of online spiritual practice, and the practical explorations grounded the online gatherings in local and community care.

The feedback from Scent in Lent 2023 participants was overwhelmingly positive. “A refreshingly different and convenient spiritual pathway to investigate,” wrote one. Another appreciated how “Scent in Lent helped the narrative of scripture come alive for me again.” A third observed that Scent in Lent 2023 was “a course that lingers in the spiritual air of your life far longer than you might expect!

These comments have encouraged the planning for next year. Scent in Lent 2024 will offer the same course at different times to connect with people from multiple time zones. If you want to learn more, contact Steve Taylor, AngelWings Ltd.

Posted by steve at 12:07 PM

Wednesday, May 03, 2023

an AngelWings Ltd research s/ending: kawakawa chyrsalis and kāhui whetū in 2023

How do you mark an ending?

A few weeks ago, a long and demanding research project came to a s/ending. I hit “send” on a 54,000-word research report, along with four executive summaries, each six pages long. Like any s/ending, the lead up to the deadline involved stress, the juggle of depth and readability, edits and visual appeal.

Once sent, another set of stresses emerge. How will the funders respond? The time between sending the report and gaining feedback can be lengthy. Funders need time to read and process. Can I move on, or will more work be needed?

In all this waiting, the sending is still an ending and the s/ending needs celebrating.

What was sent a few weeks ago was a unique project. First, at 26 months it was longer than usual. The report drew on hundreds of interviews and interactions, and over 250 pages of written notes.

Second, it was a research collaboration, working with someone who brought unique and different skills. So this research project meant forming a team, learning to work across cultures, appreciating each other’s strengths, navigating each other’s weaknesses and respecting each other’s realities. With research spread over 26 months during a global pandemic, the realities included lockdowns, catching of Covid during fieldwork, work and family changes. Lots to navigate! So with the sending came an ending, of a productive collaboration.

So as part of s/ending, last week over coffee, we exchanged gifts as we prepared to meet the funders. Here are both gifts, sitting on top of the four research journals full of notes and findings from the 26 months of research.

My colleague found a beautiful pottery bowl. She was drawn to the stars (kāhui whetū). The research project had been shaped by an indigenous whakataukī (proverb) about the nature of voyaging. As part of our research, we had identified stars (kāhui whetū) that we suggested could guide the funders into the future. The pottery bowl, with stars, named this unique strand of the project.

I offered a pair of hand-crafted chrysalises of the kawakawa loop moth (Cleora scriptaria). The kawakawa plant is endemic to Aotearoa, the chrysalis is sign of potential. The research project had invited us to pay attention to land and place, to value indigenous learning in new ways. The six recommendations might offer potential new ways of living for this funders.

These objects now sit on my desk, along with other objects from other AngelWings Ltd research projects. Each object reminds me of work done. Each suggests a different dimension of the craft of researching. In this case, the value of working with indigenous ways of knowing. Each invites me to keep praying for the project, in this case, for those seeking to bring change in theological education and ministry training.

What about you? How do you mark an ending?

Posted by steve at 06:18 PM

Saturday, February 18, 2023

lent resource

A spiritual takeaways resource I have put together for preaching at church on the Sunday before Lent.

lent resource

The resource emerged from reflecting on the language of beloved, well-pleased and listen that emerges from the Old and New Testament lectionary texts. To help ground these Biblical texts, I will offer 4 different ways that folk might explore ways to slow to listen and beloved. I drew the practices from Adele Calhoun, Spiritual Disciplines Handbook, which I find a great resource.

I will invite folk to randomly choose one. If it doesn’t connect, they can choose another. Hopefully, the takeaway invites folk into a Lent of love.

Posted by steve at 03:43 PM

Monday, February 13, 2023

Scent in Lent: the aroma of Christian witness

A 2023 online sensory journey involving lectio divina, silence and participatory prayer.

We will use Zoom to gather. The 6 online sessions will run Thursdays (23 February ; 2, 9, 16, 23, 30 March) from 4:45-5:30 pm (New Zealand time). We will be taking time each week to “smell” a different passage of Scripture. So having a bible handy will be a help. There is a suggested cost of $10 per time. To register click here.

the aroma of Christian witness

A Scripture to help understand Scent in Lent – Exodus 30:22-25 – The Lord spoke to Moses; Take the finest spices… it shall be a holy anointing oil.”

Another Scripture to help understand Scent in Lent – John 11:39 “Martha … said to him, “Lord, already there is a stench.”

A prayer for Scent in Lent – “Lord God, you walk in all our memories; You know where we have been; What we have said, known and felt; Come to us in the scent we remember; The time when we walked with you; And know that we walk with you still” (Sense Making Faith, page 50)

A question for Scent in Lent – What does your church smell like? What would a stranger make of the smell of your church?

An exercise for Scent in Lent – Have a walk around your local area. Where are the pleasant smells? Where are the unpleasant smells? How might these smells guide the aroma of your Christian witness?

 

 

Posted by steve at 08:44 AM

Tuesday, January 17, 2023

Coding as pattern making

Coding. Definition – assigning a code for the purpose of identifying.

coding

One of the research projects I’m involved in explores faith formation in church schools. I have several rich 7,000-word interviews with school chaplains. To identify learnings, I am coding. Often I code with highlighters.

This time I am coding with Word document highlighters. On the right, the Word highlighter printed out to increase my efficiency. In the centre my codes by colour and in writing. On the left and on screen one of the 7,000-word transcripts (partially obscured to preserve confidentiality) and with various colours visible as I use the Word highlighter to mark bits of the interview. Plus the Word comment function for me to write notes. Cut and pasted these notes are becoming draft results and discussion – identifying the patterns of faith formation present in the lived ministries of school chaplains, as shared through interviews as they reflect on their practice.

Slow work. Rich and listening work. Fascinating patterns emerging.

Posted by steve at 08:10 PM

Saturday, November 05, 2022

innovation capture – a 2022 AngelWings Ltd international collaboration

A new AngelWings Ltd research project, and so a new journal – green, A4, lined. This research project, which I’m calling “Innovation capture,” is for the Diocese of Brisbane (Anglican) and with Complexability Australia. It’s a mini project, initially likely to be between 2 and 6 days. As with much of my work, it will be done remotely, from Ōtepoti (Dunedin).

The task of “Innovation capture” is to collect grassroots innovation case studies. This involves interviewing local parishes who participated through 2021 in a Diocese initiated Adapting Ministry in Complex times course. My task is to listen to their stories of action and change and then write up stories as learning case studies, with links to course content. The aim is to encourage and teach through storytelling.

It’s a project I committed to back in February 2022 but have been unable to get to, due to a range of other research contracts. So it was a relief to finally open a new journal and begin – conducting a 90-minute conversation and then drafting up a 1,000-word case study. This included discussion questions, along with links from the local story to various themes in the course content.

This is the fourth AngelWings Ltd small research project for 2022, alongside an evaluation of a student ministry in New Zealand, an evaluation of a community chaplaincy for a group in Australia and an educative course design weaving emergence and complexity theory with theology.

Posted by steve at 01:07 PM

Wednesday, September 14, 2022

“God in place” tins as Learn Local mission resourcing

It was great this week to kick off a new educational innovation: “God in place” tins.

Over the last few weeks, I’ve been checking out opportunity shops. I’m looking for metal tins: square or round, long or thin. Inside each “God in place” tin, I place the following instructions:
• Walk your place each week (each place will vary from person to person).
• Collect signs and symbols that suggest God is in this place.
• Bring your tin to each gathering for show and tell.

“God in place” refers to Jacob’s encounter in Genesis 28:16. ‘Surely the Lord is in this place—and I did not know it!’ The tins are an invitation to the spiritual discipline of discernment. What does it mean to follow Jacob and look for God in our local places, streets, and neighbourhoods?

“God in place” tins are a further creative development of Learn Local, a Synod-funded learning initiative that began in October 2021. With the uncertainties of COVID, I’ve paused Presbytery-wide gatherings. Instead, I’ve focused real local, working with Student Soul.

I met weekly with students on campus. Over four weeks, we bring what we’ve collected in our tins into conversation with Scripture. Not only Genesis 28:16 but also Jesus’ promise to Nathanael in John 1:51: “You will see heaven opened and the angels of God ascending and descending upon the Son of Man.” And the Emmaus Road encounter in Luke 24:31: “Then their eyes were opened, and they recognized him; and he vanished from their sight.”

“God in place” tins are a way of paying attention to your local place. They invite us to catch up with what God is already doing in our place. The idea was sparked by Concentrates of place and several geography teachers.

I hope to post updates over the next few weeks as the first “God in place” pilot unfolds.

Posted by steve at 07:07 PM