This book seeks to dynamically alter the way that theologians, ecclesiologists, students of religion and ministers look at the church. Taking the ideas of composition, formation and vocation as basic ecclesial categories, Martyn Percy explores how apparently innocent and incidental material is in fact highly significant for the shaping of theological and ecclesiological horizons. The Introduction sets the tone, with a meditation on how the apparently ordinary scent of a country church can be redolent with meaning, setting the tone of expectation in relation to subsequent worship. This book is not, however, simply about reading meanings into events, ideas, conversations and contexts. Rather, it sets out to faithfully interpret much of the material that surrounds us, yet is often taken for granted, or more usually unnoticed. The book is an invitation to involve the scholar or minister, paying close and patient attention to beliefs, language, artefacts, rituals, practices and other material - all of which are constitutive for ecclesial life and theological identity.
'Here in this brilliant book, congregational studies meets ecclesiology meets cultural studies, all under the innovative heading of 'implicit theology'. Percy writes with wit, originality, wisdom, and profound insight. As a result of reading this book, one looks at the relationship of church and the world in a deeper and richer way. There is no doubt in my mind that this will be one of the great books of the decade; it will be recognized as a 'classic'. A must read.' Ian Markham, Dean and President, Virginia Theological Seminary, USA 'Martyn Percy's Shaping the Church, offers readers a fascinating and lively account of ecclesial life from the underside. He shows that the forces that shape the church, its sacramental practices and ministry for the greater part, operate at the implicit level in the 'benign and insignificant peripheries and artefacts of ecclesial life'. Percy is equally at home in theology, sociology and cultural studies. He has a feel for the church and its life in the world and he communicates it with verve, wit and insight. His work combines sharp analysis and critique with shrewd theological judgements on important issues in contemporary church life. A first rate theologian and cultural commentator; this book will stimulate, challenge and reward.' Stephen Pickard, Assistant Bishop, Diocese of Adelaide, Australia 'Percy coins the term implicit theology� to describe an approach that pays attention to the normally neglected and often overlooked dimensions of ecclesial life that are constitutive for belief and practice�. As much at home in sociology and cultural studies as he is in theology, Percy is uncommonly well equipped to discern and describe the promise such an approach may hold in store for those prepared to dig a little deeper into what we otherwise take at face value.' Church Times '… [Percy is] a canny observer of the current ecclesiological and cultural landscape, is robust and rigorous if still partisan, and well read. It