Doing church in a new paradigm
Degree GrantorUniversity of Canterbury
Degree NameMaster of Arts
In line with the assertion that the church reflects the values and practices of society this thesis explores the link between new paradigm churches (an emerging expression of church) and three key aspects of contemporary Western society, globalisation, pragmatism, and individualism. The theoretical underpinning for the thesis is drawn from the work of Troeltsch in which he explored the different forms Christianity has taken throughout history. In this regard it proved useful to supplement Troeltsch's analysis in incorporating the notion of 'paradigm' into a consideration of contemporary expressions of 'doing church'- hence the use of the term 'new paradigm church.' In examining the link between church and society criticisms that suggest that new paradigm churches have colluded too much with the values of the surrounding culture are considered. Research findings drawn from interviews with leaders of eight churches in Christchurch, New Zealand are examined in light of these claims. Societal influence is apparent in the findings presented. Evidence of global influence is seen in the programmes, concepts, and attitudes being adopted from other locations. A pragmatic approach is reflected in the widespread use of mission statements and the nature of the programmes being used. Individualism can be seen in the churches, particularly through the use of entertainment as a medium of communication within churches but more through an emphasis on 'meeting felt needs'. The thesis concludes by considering the challenges that faces leaders of new paradigm churches as they seek to be relevant to the world in which they live while at the same time being true to their basic calling that is to play a part in transforming that society.