Monday, October 04, 2021

“a unique contribution”: Andrew Dunlop reviews my First Expressions book

Another (7th) international academic review of my First Expressions: innovation and the mission of God is out in International Bulletin of Mission Research, Vol 45, Issue 4, 2021, 441-442, here. The review is by Andrew Dunlop, who is Tutor in Context-Based Training at Ridley Hall and oversees pioneer teaching for lay and ordained. The review is a highly accurate summary of the book, with many affirmations.

Since the review is behind a paywall, here are some of my highlights
– “a first — a longitudinal study” of new Christian communities
– the empirical research of new Christian communities is “particularly engaging” with my “woven ecclesiology” (90–91) offering a “reframing” of sustainability in fresh expressions of church. (Instead of longevity, numbers, and finance, I argue for leadership development, inter-generational faith formation and creative resource making).
– “a huge amount of deep missiological thinking”, particularly as from the empirical date I develop themes of authenticity, ambient witness, creativity, sacramentality, and governance, explored through the credal framework of the church being one, holy, catholic, and apostolic
– noting my conclusion, that “innovation is what makes church “church,” enabling it to remain faithful to this credal structure (232)”

Andrew concludes that First Expressions makes a “unique contribution” to ecclesiology questions around resourcing and sustainability. The book is of “particular interest to those studying new Christian communities.” First Expressions also provides “a valuable addition to theologies of innovation.” Thanks Andrew for such an accurate review, along with such a range of compliments.

This is the 7th substantive review of First Expressions: innovation and the mission of God. The other reviews (that I’m aware of) are summarised by me –

  • here in Theology;
  • here in Church Times;
  • here in Ecclesial Futures;
  • here in Practical Theology;
  • here in Ecclesiology;
  • here in Scottish Episcopal Institute Journal.
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