One of the reasons for this is that images and metaphors can provide ways of (re)imagining who we are and what we do that would be hard to discern in more ‘direct’ descriptions. If I were to ask you, ‘Who are you as a researcher? How do you understand your role? What is your vision for your research?’ I wonder what you would say. Would you know where to start? But what if I were to ask you, ‘What body part best describes you as a researcher?’, maybe that would get your imaginative juices flowing.
What are the images we use (consciously or unconsciously) that (could) describe and shape us as researchers? In today’s post I want to offer one image for a researcher that you may find helpful.
Researcher as stomach.
In a recent article D.A. Carson describes the role of Pastor-Teachers the following way:
‘I have often tried to show that the role of the pastor-teacher in the NT is not that of a special-class mediator, but something akin to the role of a stomach within the body: the stomach takes in a lot of food and distributes it to the rest of the body. I lose all my dignity (and, better, any pomposity) when I am seen, not as a priest, but as a stomach.’ (pp. 6-7)
Could we appropriate this image for the researcher as well? Our role as researchers in the context of mission is to take data (literature, qualitative, quantitative, etc) and digest it in such a way that it becomes nutritious for God’s people as we participate together in God’s mission. It isn’t necessarily glamorous but God can use it to sustain and energise people for what he has called them to do. Could this be a helpful way of seeing yourself and what you are doing?
What other images can you think of?
Carson, D.A. (2015) ‘Editorial: Why the Local Church Is More Important Than TGC, White Horse Inn, 9Marks, and Maybe Even ETS‘, Themelios 40.1 (2015), pp. 1–9
We are always on the lookout for open access journals and sometimes we come across directories that list large numbers of titles. The Open Access Journal Search Engine is a case of the latter. Although it ceased adding titles in 2012 there is still a large number to browse.
For ease of use for our students and staff (and other very welcome readers!), I’ve listed below a few of the subject areas that relate to our five MA programmes in Field Linguistics, Literacy Programme Development, Contemporary Missiology, Global Leadership in Intercultural Contexts, and Member Care. I’ve set them as hyperlinks and also included the number of journals listed in the category in brackets.
Business and Management (163)
Gender studies (16)
Languages and Literatures (149)
Social Sciences (112)
Theology on the Web is a collection of sites that provide free access to scholarly works relating to the associated fields of Theology, including Missiology. Here’s the main website’s explanation:
To make high quality theological freely material available throughout the world, thus providing Bible teachers and pastors with the resources they need to spread the Gospel in their countries. This is achieved by:
Digitising and uploading in co-operation with authors and publishers, rare and out-of-print theology books and articles. Over 32,000 articles are now available for free download.
Providing detailed bibliographies for Seminary level students and ministers.
Providing a single cross-linked resource made up of seven websites, some of which are under development.
BiblicalStudies.org.uk hosts over 25,000 full text theological articles linked into bibliographies on each book of the Bible. It also covers such subjects as hermeneutics, biblical languages, criticism, language, etc. – in short almost everything connected with the Bible and its study.
TheologicalStudies.org.uk throws its net slightly wider, providing material on a range of theologies and theologians, as well as specific doctrines such as the Trinity, for example. The section on practical theology seeks to provide material on how theology is applied in daily life, in such areas as politics and ethics.
EarlyChurch.org.uk covers church history until the rise of the medieval Papacy (c.600 AD).
MedievalChurch.org.uk takes over where EarlyChurch.org.uk leaves off, covering church history from the rise of the Papacy to the time of the Reformation.
ReformationChurch.org.uk – covers church history during and after the Reformation.
BiblicalArchaeology.org.uk provides material relating to the archaeology of the lands of the Bible.
Missiology.org.uk provides resources for students of Christian missions from the first Century onwards [currently under development].
Cross-linking of subjects mean that a student studying baptism (for example) would be able to move from the baptism of Jesus, to baptism in the early church, the medieval church and then to how it is understood by a range of modern theologians.
Missio Dei is one of the free to access journals we have highlighted in our eResources section (see tab above). It touches on a whole range of topics but the one I want to highlight today is issue 6.1 (Feb 2015), which had a focus on Member Care
Here are the contents:
Greg McKinzie, “Careful Missions” (Editorial Preface to the Issue)
Philip Slate, “Clyde Neal Austin (1931–2014): Pioneer in Missionary Care among North American Churches of Christ”
Stephen Allison, “Contemporary Practices of Missionary Care within Churches of Christ”
Jackie Halstead, “Encounter with God: A Theological Reflection on Missionary Care”
Sonny Guild, “Seamless, Comprehensive Missionary Care: Pre-, On-, and Post-Field Care for Teams”
Will Walls, “Managing Stress and Burnout on the Mission Field”
Verna Weber, “Seven Reentry Challenges for Families”
Beth Reese, “Training for Transitions”
Laura Allen, “Missionary Children and Reentry”
Jeremy Harrison, “Missionary Care: Triage or Wellness Checks?”
Dottie Schulz, “Resources for Missionary Care”
Dale Hawley, “Missionary Care: An Annotated Bibliography”
Elaine Storkey has recently published what looks like an important book, Scars Across Humanity: Understanding and Overcoming Violence Against Women. I highlight it here to let you know about it, especially those working on dissertations in related areas.
Here are the blurb, a trailer produced by the book’s publisher, SPCK, and a list of its contents.
“An in-depth exploration of the breadth, intensity and root causes of gender-based violence against women, and the resources we need to drawn on in order to make a meaningful and effective stand against it.
One of the ways you can develop and consolidate your study skills is to access books and website on the topic. The publishers Palgrave, for example, have a Student Study Skills section on their website. Obviously they are hoping that students and libraries will buy books from their ranges (fair enough!) but they provide a number of concise tips on topics such as Critical Thinking and Research Methods.
To give you a flavour, the page on Critical and Analytical Thinking Skills includes brief pointers under the following headings:
What is critical and analytical thinking?
Identifying the main line of reasoning in what you read or write
Critically evaluating the line of reasoning for what you read or write
Identifying hidden agendas in your sources and in your own writing
Evaluating evidence in the text
Looking for bias
Identifying the writer’s conclusions
Critical skills when writing
So, check it out and do let us know if you come across similar useful resources online.
I’ve just come across the New Urban World Journal, which is freely accessible online and published twice a year. It has included topics such as Business as Mission, Integral Urban Mission, Money and Urban Mission, and Urban Challenges to Learning.Here is the blurb from the New Urban World Journal website:
New Urban World is the official journal of the International Society for Urban Mission. This magazine-style journal aims to amplifyvoices for urban Christian discipleship and transformation in cities with the broader Church and society. It especially seeks to engage and inspire emerging urban Christian leaders and highlight the new challenges urban slums pose Christian faith and mission. New Urban World includes scholarly articles, in addition to accessible news, stories, opportunities for involvement, reviews, poetry and pictures from diverse urban Christians.
Compared with many academic disciplines, Missiology is brilliantly served with freely accessible journals (eBooks still have some way to go, though). We’ve listed them on the eResources page but if you come across others that should be included do let us know.
An interesting piece of research has just been published by the Church of England, Evangelical Alliance and HOPE. Here’s a link to the website and (below) and the initial sections of the ‘About’ page:
What do people in this nation know and believe about Jesus? What do they really think of us, his followers? Are we talking about Jesus enough? And when we are, are we drawing people closer towards him, or further away?
These are just some of the questions we at the Church of England, Evangelical Alliance and HOPE commissioned Barna Group to ask on our behalf. But this was not just for curiosity’s sake. We are believing, hoping and praying that this study – the first of its kind – will be a major catalyst for effective and focused evangelism in the years to come.
It all began in March 2015 when we gathered more than 40 key leaders of denominations and networks, as well as key influencers from across the spectrum of the English Church, in the Lake District. For 24 hours, we prayed and we talked. We shared our heart for mission; our collective longing to see God move in this nation. We reflected on an initial piece of research of 1,000 people in England we had commissioned Barna to undertake. The results of this first piece of research were shocking…
Here is some inspiration for those of you who are pushing through to the end of your dissertations!
What has the Levitical Priesthood got to do with Mission? Nicholas Haydock, a graduate of Redcliffe’s MA in Bible and Mission programme, has recently published a revised version of his very good dissertation under the title, The Theology of the Levitical Priesthood: Assisting God’s People in their Mission to the Nations.
Here is the blurb:
In this book, Nicholas Haydock explores the biblical presentation of the Levitical priesthood, drawing out themes that run throughout Scripture and reveal God’s intention for the priesthood. It is successfully argued that this intention cannot be divorced from God’s desire to reveal himself to the nations. This hypothesis is shown to be true in examining the various functions and metaphors ascribed to the Levites. Whereas in much of Old Testament criticism, the Levitical priesthood has been painted in a light contrary to the biblical depiction, The Theology of the Levitical Priesthood takes the canonical presentation of the Levites at face value. It is the author’s conviction that in attending to the biblical presentation of the Levites, the Church will be aided and better equipped to apply herself to Scripture and to participate within God’s mission, in the present day.
“”[This book] successfully argues that the theology of the Levitical priesthood is not only a coherent whole, but it expresses a missional purpose that aided the priesthood and the people of Israel in their witness to the nations at large and in their worship of the One true God . . . This will provide for many a whole new avenue of viewing the fact that Israel and her leaders were to be a ‘light to the nations.'”” –Walter C. Kaiser, Jr., President Emeritus, Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary, South Hamilton, MA
“”This helpful study brings together two important themes in the Old Testament that are often neglected by commentators and preachers: priesthood and mission. Haydock examines the role the priest was expected to play in Israelite society. His lifestyle, Haydock argues, should adorn Christian leaders, indeed all the people of God, and in this way draw the nations to the knowledge of God. This makes the priesthood central to the Biblical understanding of mission. [Theology is] a useful, original contribution to Biblical theology.”” –Gordon Wenham, Tutor in Old Testament, Trinity College, Bristol, England
The Scripture Engagement website is an excellent website and is full of information and links for SE. A couple of recent graduates on Redcliffe’s Bible and Mission programme have posted their dissertations in the resources section. Here are the abstracts and links to the relevant pages. These were very good pieces of work so well worth reading for how to structure and write a dissertation as well as for the fascinating content.
MA dissertation: Bible & Mission, Redcliffe College, UK (2014)
In many ways the Malila and Nyiha are typical of Tanzania’s numerous multilingual communities, where both Swahili and the local language are used as part of everyday life. Given that there are several versions of the Swahili Bible, two of which are generally available in the larger cities, it is often unclear as to what, if any, benefit will be gained from the long and arduous task of translating Scripture portions into the local language.
In this study I first look at the impact of translated Scriptures throughout the history of the church, and what insights might be gained from the sociolinguistic literature concerning the way multilingual communities use and perceive each language that they speak. I then carry out research among the Malila and Nyiha communities, asking them what they feel has been the impact of having access to Scriptures in their local languages in addition to the Swahili Bible. Finally I discuss the perspectives shared by the community members and church leaders, making recommendations for decision makers in other multilingual communities who may be considering translating Scriptures into their local language.
This study concludes that the benefits of translation may extend far beyond simply an increase in comprehension, and so decision makers would do well to bear in mind the fact that sociolinguistic principles play a significant role in how Scriptures are perceived, and should therefore be fully considered when contemplating how a community might best access the Bible.
MA dissertation: Bible & Mission, Redcliffe College (2013)
This study examines both what Tanzanian Christians think about the Bible and the way they engage with it, through a review of the literature on Bible use in Africa and primary research in the Mbeya-Iringa Cluster Project of SIL International. Data was gathered through a mixed method approach using questionnaires (with respondents selected through purposive sampling across four language areas) and a group interview (with the Literacy/Scripture Use Coordinators who administered the questionnaires).
The research revealed that Tanzanians commonly see the Bible as the Word of God, though what they mean by this is less clear. Preaching, prayer meetings, Bible seminars and songs were most commonly ranked as very important for growing in faith. Further, respondents most frequently engaged with the Bible by reading or listening to it at church (80%), reading alone (55%), singing (47%) or praying (45%). There was a clear discrepancy between their level of Bible engagement and the importance they ascribed to it. Only 63% owned a complete Swahili Bible, while far fewer used mother-tongue Scriptures. Most people seemed to interpret the Bible simply and directly, but not always contextually or accurately, and saw the Bible’s central message as being one of judgement, sin or salvation. Variations were sometimes found between genders, denominations and language areas.
Amongst other things, the findings suggest that Scripture Engagement workers should use methods appropriate for oral and communal societies, provide training for pastors and lay Christians in hermeneutics and other Bible engagement tools and facilitate the distribution of Christian literature.