This book presents theological reflections on the changing nature of church mission and Christian identity within a theology of 'blurred encounter' - a physical, social, political and spiritual space where once solid hierarchies and patterns are giving way to more fluid and in many ways unsettling exchanges. The issues raised and dynamics explored apply to all socially-produced space, thus tending to 'blur' that most fundamental of theological categories - namely urban vs. rural theology. Engaging in a sharper way with some of the helpful but inevitably broad-brush conclusions raised by recent church-based reports (Mission-shaped Church, Faithful Cities), the authors examine some of the practical and theological implications of this research for the issue of effective management and therefore church leadership generally. Speaking to practitioners in the field of practical theology as well as those engaged in theological and ministerial training, key voices encompass dimensions of power and conflict, and identify some of the present and future opportunities and challenges to church/faith-based engagement and leadership arising from blurred encounters. Contributors - practitioners and theorists - cover a wide spectrum of interdisciplinary professional contexts and academic/denominational interests. Contributors include: John Atherton, John Reader, Helen Cameron, Martyn Percy, Malcolm Brown, Karen Lord, Clare McBeath and Margaret Goodall.
Revd Dr John Reader has been ordained for over 30 years and has served in mainly rural parishes. He has also been Director of Pastoral Theology at a theological college as well as teaching on three non-residential training courses. Revd Dr Reader is currently Rector of the Ironstone Benefice in the Diocese of Oxford, Senior Honorary Research Fellow with the William Temple Foundation in Manchester and Senior Tutor for the Diploma in Christian Rural and Environmental Studies based at Ripon College, Cuddesdon, Oxford. His publications include Local Theology (1994), Blurred Encounters (2005) and Reconstructing Practical Theology (2008). Dr Christopher R. Baker is Director of Research for the William Temple Foundation, University of Manchester, Part-time lecturer in Urban Theology at the University of Manchester, a reviewer for Urban Studies and City journals and a member of the Church of England's Urban Policy Consultative Group. He is a co-founder of the Manchester Centre for Public Theology and the Core Cities Theological Network.
’... there is immense practical wisdom and insight to be found... there is much that is novel and exciting here.’ Church Times ’This collection of essays sets out to be something of a manifesto. Reader and Baker, on the basis of earlier work, claim that theological reflection and practice has entered, as the title suggests, a new space where the decisions and debates are made through blurred encounters. They draw on contemporary evaluations of the dynamics of modern society. The contention is that the Church is entering into a radically new phase of mission and witness.’ Practical Theology ’What is exciting about this book is that it provides a creative philosophical basis for theological reflection and an interesting starting-point for dialogue with a number of other disciplines.’ Modern Believing '... this volume deserve[s] wide reading, and the ongoing conversations encouraged therein are to be commended. Social planners, missiologists, pastoral practitioners and those training them will all benefit from reading this book, and from taking up the challenge to engage in the interdisciplinary and multilayered interstices of cultural, political and theological realities.' Per Crucem ad Lucem Blog '... this volume deserves wide reading, and the ongoing conversations encouraged therein are to be commended. Social planners, missiologists, pastoral practitioners and those training them will all benefit from reading this book, and from taking up the challenge to engage in the interdisciplinary and multi-layered interstices of cultural, political and theological realities.' International Journal of Public Theology