Thursday, December 11, 2014

Doctor of Ministry in Mainstreet chaplaincy


Today we graduated Bruce Grindlay Doctor of Ministry. He received his examiners reports a few weeks ago, on his thesis From Altar into the Agora: Toward a reframing of missional voice and posture of the Mainstreet. Normally we graduate annually in May, but specific circumstances meant an individual ceremony for Bruce was most appropriate.

We’re a small enough College, a flexible enough College, to be able to offer this sort of individualised approach. We crafted a 20 minute service, which include worship, prayer, Scripture, intercession, the presentation of the award and a response by Bruce. It was lovely, with some very poignant moments, including the thanking of Juan Luis Segundo, a liberation theologian who had mentored Bruce.

I was one of Bruce’s supervisors in what was a fascinating Doctor of Ministry project. (A minor supervisor, as Bruce made clear in his speech today, given that so much of the input into the project came from Dr Peter Gunn). Bruce had, in his final ministry placement before retiring, found himself a chaplain to his local business community. That led him on a fascinating journey, given that marketing phrases currently used in Mainstreet shopping environments use religious grammar and images, yet without God. So Bruce analyses whether a church should partnering with current community development strategies and the missional voice and posture that it might adopt.

In his own words:

This thesis analyses the missional identity and vocation of a church located in an open-air, retail, shopping environment and explores the interplay between this Mainstreet shopping environment and the life and mission of the ‘Mainstreet’ church. It explores how marketing phrases echo the theological and missional grammar of the church. In this post-secular environment it asks whether this rhetoric uses religious grammar and images, but without God. By means of an analysis of the images and activities associated with Mainstreet, and a consideration of the theology of shopping, it explores whether current community development strategies on Mainstreet offer new opportunities for congregations to move from the ‘altar’ into the ‘agora’ and to adopt new missional postures. It maps out navigational skills to guide congregations wishing to develop a contemporary missional identity and engagement. It concludes by asking whether the church on Mainstreet can, proleptically, be a sign in word and deed of the Kingdom of God.

Today was a day of great joy and celebration. Much hard work. Much!

Posted by steve at 06:17 PM


  1. Thank you for your great kindness and support today and all the other days Steve.

    Comment by Bruce Grindlay — December 11, 2014 @ 7:32 pm

  2. I’m very interested in this. Will it be in the library? Thank you Steve and thank you Bryce for your work in such an important innovative area. Look forward to reading it.

    Comment by Danica — December 11, 2014 @ 8:09 pm

  3. Yes Danica, It will be in the library.


    Comment by steve taylor — December 12, 2014 @ 9:18 am

  4. This could be so helpful for me and Christ in the context of our lives today. Thank you. And thanks for being a flexible Christ centred learning college.

    Comment by Susan Doughty — December 12, 2014 @ 3:27 pm

  5. Sounds very interesting. How can someone like me get to read this thesis.

    Comment by Alistair Mackenzie — December 13, 2014 @ 5:25 pm

  6. Alistair

    Hiya. Interloan through library. Most public libraries do this.

    We’re back in NZ come Monday. When does Laidlaw break up – I’d be keen to drop in with some Australian red – if the Chch culture still rolls that way …


    Comment by steve — December 13, 2014 @ 5:48 pm

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