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welcome!
1. Relationship-Building: Worst case scenario of our gathering is that we 
leave with a lot of new friends who share a common vision and heart.
2. Mutual Inspiration/Encouragement: We'll have three hours together each 
morning to ensure that all will leave with full tanks - with questions 
answered, with dreams confirmed, with plans solidified, with allies enlisted, 
sharing the joy of being seen and heard by one another.
3. Planning/Conspiring: How can our efforts be more wisely 
synergized? How can our many endeavors contribute to a 
sustainable, gently-powerful movement?
4. Rest/Reinvigoration/Fun: There will be plenty of time for walks on the 
beach, swimming, boating, fishing, walking, exploring while we're together.
5. Targeted Conversations: Each afternoon, you'll have the opportunity to 
pull together specific conversations about issues you think are important.
Convergence 2015 mvmts theol 2
we need a theology of
institutions, movements. and
Communities
Three possible futures:
Continuing contraction
Extremist resurgence
Pregnancy
Three possible futures:
Continuing contraction
- Shrinking numbers
- Wrinkling members
- Low retention
- Low evangelization
- Constrained leadership
- Secure finances
Three possible futures:
Extremist resurgence
- Immigration fears
- Western domination
- Terrorism fears/revenge
- Playing to bases
- New alliances (global,
ecumenical)
Three possible futures:
Pregnancy
- Theological reformation
- Missional reorientation
- Post-national, post-partisan
identity/ethos
- Spiritual-social movement
(Peace, planet, poverty)
- New alliances (global,
ecumenical)
we need a theology of
institutions, movements. and
Communities
Communities
Families, individuals, and 
organizations linked to a 
common environment, 
collaborating for the 
common good.
Institutions:
Organizations which conserve 
the gains made by past 
social movements.
Social Movements
Organizations which make 
proposals or demands to 
current institutions to make 
progress towards new 
gains.
Both movements and 
institutions...
Organize for their purpose
Need one another
Are frustrated with one 
another
Benefit or harm communities
Without movements ...
Institutions stagnate ...
Without institutions ...
Movements evaporate ...
Some movements
successfully inject their values 
into the institutions they 
challenge
Other movements
create their own institutions, 
or pass away 
Vital movements
call people to passionate, 
sacrificial personal 
commitment
Sustainable institutions
create loyalty across 
generations through 
evocative rituals & traditions
Convergence 2015 mvmts theol 2
Convergence 2015 mvmts theol 2
Parker Palmer’s 4 stages of
social change
1. Divided no more
2. Communities of 
congruence
3. Going public
4. Alternative Rewards
From Greg Leffel
Faith Seeking Action: Mission
and Social Movements
Movements unite people to create or resist change. Through
them, individuals seek a common voice to challenge, social,
political, economic and cultural powers; movements, in fact,
multiply the power of individual action through their unique
form of collective, non-institutional power. (47-48)
Social movements are non-institutionally organized human
collectives, that put meaningful ideas in play in public
settings, that actively confront existing powers through the
strength of their numbers and the influence of their ideas,
and that grow in size and power by inspiring others to act, in
order to create or resist change (48)
A movement is “a segmented, usually polycephalus cellular
organization composed of unites networked by various
personal, structural, and ideological ties. (50)
It takes collective, non-institutional
(or prophetic) power to bring change
to institutions.
You can’t change the
center/inside/priestly without
proposals and pressure from the
margins/outside/prophetic.
Movements are diagnostic, prognostic,
and motivational (51)
- They say what’s wrong
- They say what’s needed
- They motivate and mobilize for
concerted action.
Movements are context dependent.
In certain periods, fundamental contradictions
in a society’s core understanding of itself
create the possibility of widespread and
socially disruptive change. (52)
Movements exploit opportunity:
1. An active interest among elites in changing
the political structure
2. Conflicts or corruption within elites
3. Events that weaken established social
control (war, disaster, economic collapse)
Leffel’s 6 Characteristics of Vibrant Social
Movements
1. Opportunity Structure (Context
Awareness)
Current restraining realities ...
in tension with ...
emerging opportunities.
Opportunities:
- Problems needing to be solved
- Elites who hold power, resist change or
promote negative change
- Fissures, Problems among elites that
make the status quo vulnerable
- Values of the movement in conflict with
values of elites
- Potential advocates and allies in
academic, civil society, arts, church,
government, business, science, etc.
2. Rhetorical Framing/Conceptual
Architecture
Movement leaders have to make a conceptual and verbal
case for their movement by answering questions like these:
How do we redefine reality?
How do we disrupt or change current realities?
How do we name our grievances? Articulate our positive
vision for the way forward?
How do we motivate and sustain dissatisfaction with the
status quo, and affection for our shared vision?
How do we justify our aims in terms of 5 lines of moral
argument (Jonathan Haidt): justice, compassion, tradition,
loyalty, and purity?
How is the movement liberating? (liberal)
How is the movement conserving? (conservative)
3. Protest (messaging) strategy
Raising awareness, attracting growing numbers of
participants
Campaigns, tactics, deployments, making demands, public
relations, sustaining conflict, forcing a crisis, managing
internal tensions, managing stigmatization, showing results,
maintaining momentum, not overreacting, defining
acceptable level of disruption,
- Gaining attention - demonstrations, sit-ins, teach-ins, etc.
- Building Networks of Participants and Allies
- Wisely Identifying and Engaging Opponents
Movements must be convergent (creating broad, vigorous
alliances) and insurgent (confronting real problems upheld
by elites and the systems that privilege them).
4. Mobilization Structures & Strategies
- Authority and Decision-Making Structures
- Transparency/Confidentiality, Communication Plans
- Leadership development, Relational Development, Conflict
Management Plans
- Coalition development
- Resource, Technology, Finance Mobilization and
Management
- Evangelism, recruitment, induction
- Renewal and Increase of commitment
- Awareness of levels of commitment (core, activists,
supporters, listeners, opposition, indirect impact, unaware
4. Mobilization Structures & Strategies
Jesus and the 12
- Intense time of modeling, relationship building and vision
sharing
- Contagious passion
- Periodic sending and returning
- Final sending/Succession insured
- Warnings of expected trials, failures, conflicts
- “Polycephalic” structure - connection without control
- Self-organizing units
- Welcoming of new leaders (Paul)
- Reproducible expansion
- Both individual agency and group agency (Paul, Philip,
Antioch)
- Both planning and spontaneity
5. Movement Culture
“Movements are about changing a
society’s lifeway; a movement itself
becomes an experimental field where a
new way of life can be, to some degree,
experienced and where the movement’s
ideals, values and common vision are
put to the test.” (61)
5. Movement culture
- Emotional vibe (fun, serious, angry,
playful, heady, gutsy, etc.)
- Feel of spaces, physical and digital
- Songs, slogans
- Virtues, values, moral ethos
- Dress, Graphics,
- Nicknames, terminology
- Emotion, motivation, motion
6. Participant Biography
How does involvement benefit - or harm -
participants? How does the movement promote
emotional and social sustainability ... avoiding
burnout, squabbles, etc.
How does it contribute to personal formation:
- character
- attitudes
- knowledge
- recovery from trauma
- relationships
- renewal
What do participants gain from being involved?
1. Opportunity Structure
2. Rhetorical framing
3. Protest (messaging) strategy
4. Mobilization strategy
5. Movement culture
6. Participant Biography
Jesus says the kingdom of God is like gardening (an
organic movement) not warfare (institutional action): It
spreads through seeds ... sown into systems to grow.
The seeds of the message.
The seeds of people who personally embody the message.
The seeds of communities who socially embody the message.
Jesus seizes the opportunity structure
provided by conflicted elites
(Pharisees/Sadducees;
Herodians/Zealots) and struggling
masses (Galilee/Judea)
He provides rhetorical framing on hillsides, in
houses, on retreats, in public teach-ins, in debates,
through parables, through rituals and practices.
He repeats key themes - commonwealth of God,
life to the full, life of the ages, liberation - rooted
in dynamic tension with tradition.
His protest (messaging) strategy includes public
demonstrations (healings & miracles), teach-ins
(sermon on mount), civil disobedience (turning
tables), guerilla theatre (exorcisms), festivals
(feasts & feedings), naming evil (woes), naming
heroes (blessings).
He develops a mobilization strategy based
on 3, 12, 70, and multitudes. He entrusts
freely with responsibility and expresses high
confidence in his agents (greater things shall
you do ...)
He associates his movement culture
with love, joy, justice, risk, hope,
creativity, courage, service,
willingness to suffer, nonviolence.
He provides his disciples challenge, rest,
retreat, encouragement, recovery after
failures. They testify that their participant
biographies have been forever changed for
the better.
we need a theology of
Communities, institutions and
movements
Philippians 2:1-11
If then there is any encouragement
in Christ,
any consolation from love,
any sharing in the Spirit,
any compassion and sympathy,
make my joy complete:
be of the same mind,
having the same love,
being in full accord and of one
mind.
Do nothing from selfish ambition
or conceit,
but in humility regard others as
better than yourselves.
Let each of you look not to your
own interests,
but to the interests of others.
Let this attitude be in us,
The attitude of Jesus.
Christ being in the image of God ...
Did not count equality with God
Something to be grasped,
But he emptied himself,
By taking the very nature of a
servant,
Being made in human form,
And being found in human form,
He humbled himself.
He became obedient to the
point of death,
Even death upon a cross.
Therefore God exalted
him to the highest
place.
God gave him the highest name
of all,
So that at Jesus’ name
All knees should bend/
All tongues confess/
That Jesus Christ is Lord/
To the glory of God the Father,
... Who works in us to desire
And do God’s good pleasure.
Let this attitude be in us,
The attitude of Jesus.
Amen.
Movements move with the
Holy Spirit.
needed? Why?
What’s wrong? What’s
needed? Why?
What’s wrong? What’s
needed? Why?
What’s wrong? What’s
needed? Why?
The Audience Question:
To the churches?
With the churches, to the world?
To the churches and the world?
Convergence 2015 mvmts theol 2
we need a theology of
Communities, institutions and
movements
1. The Bible: In light of how the Bible has been abused in
the past and present, we know that we need a new way of
describing what the Bible is, how it reached its current
form, how we should interpret and teach it (especially to
children and youth), etc.
2. The Church: A vision of integral missional prompts us to
challenge the church in many ways - moving beyond
preoccupation with its own institutional maintenance
towards forming Christ-like people who become a blessing
to the larger community, and thus embody the message we
proclaim.
3. The Poor: The growing gap between rich and poor calls for a multi-faceted
partnership that expresses compassion, seeks justice, confronts exploitation
and marginalization, and creates opportunity, especially in a global economy.
4. The Planet: The environmental crisis must evoke from us proposals that will
benefit the birds of the air, the flowers of the field, and the ecosystems that
maintain them, so that followers of Christ will pioneer a new lifestyle and help
create the regenerative economy the planet needs.
5. Pluralism: To love our neighbors in today’s world means to learn to
appreciate our neighbors’ diverse religions. We must propose new ways of
encountering the other that provide alternatives to both combative
fundamentalism and combative atheism.
6. Peace: After two thousand years, it is time for the Christian faith to
distinguish itself not just by advocating for war with less injustice, but by
proclaiming an attainable ideal of peace, along with equipping Christians as
practical peacemakers.
7. Equality: Women and men, gay and straight, minority and majority,
alien and native-born, unbeliever and believer, occupied and occupier,
one percent and ninety-nine percent - our world is torn by divisions
that put some in a position of of privilege and power, and others in a
position of disadvantage and danger. Sadly, our churches are often
laggards, not leaders, in confronting prejudice and standing for the
dignity and equality of all people.
8. Families, Women, and Children: Families face multiple challenges
today, including greed-based economies that corrode humane values,
exploitive entertainment industries that undermine human dignity, and
patriarchal religious systems that reward a crude form of masculinity.
We must challenge churches to propose and embody family life that
can overcome these challenges.
9. Business/Economics: We must challenge business and economic
leaders to create new forms of business that seek a triple bottom line -
lasting social, environmental, and economic benefit, not just
maximized short-term profit. In a world of rising population and
increasing mechanization, we must also challenge business leaders to
seek to maximize employment along with profit, and to discover new
ways to reduce economic inequality by expanding opportunity.
10. Personal Dimensions: In what way must those who articulate
demands like these make demands on themselves? And how can those
demanding practices be sustainable and life-giving rather than
burdensome and restrictive?
Convergence 2015 mvmts theol 2
Theology/Liturgy/Formation
Theology/Liturgy/Formation
Narrative - the big story(s)
Narrative - the big story(s)
Within a narrative, words
have meaning ...
Narrative - the big story(s)
Within a narrative, words
have meaning ...
Sin - Repentance - Salvation
- Holiness
Faith - Belief - Holy Spirit -
Word of God - Jesus
Narrative - the big story(s)
Within a narrative, words
have meaning ...
God
Theology/Liturgy/Formation
Orderly succession of rituals
Ritual - using body to bond
to meaning
Ritualism - action without
meaning
Theology/Liturgy/Formation
Meaning ...
Theology/Liturgy/Formation
Formation ...
Inner/personal
Social/communal
Formation ...
Inner/personal
Social/communal
For mission
(tomorrow)
Convergence 2015 mvmts theol 2
Symeon the New Theologian (949-1022), a saint and mystic, wrote some words that point beautifully to this
new force field, that we call the Body of Christ.
We awaken in Christ’s body,
As Christ awakens our bodies.
There I look down and my poor hand is Christ,
He enters my foot and is infinitely me.
I move my hand and wonderfully
My hand becomes Christ,
Becomes all of Him.
I move my foot and at once
He appears in a flash of lightning.
Do my words seem blasphemous to you?
—Then open your heart to him.
And let yourself receive the one
Who is opening to you so deeply.
For if we genuinely love Him,
We wake up inside Christ’s body
Where all our body all over,
Every most hidden part of it,
Is realized in joy as Him,
And He makes us utterly real.
And everything that is hurt, everything
That seemed to us dark, harsh, shameful,
maimed, ugly, irreparably damaged
Is in Him transformed.
And in Him, recognized as whole, as lovely.
And radiant in His light,
We awaken as the beloved
In every last part of our body.
From Things Hidden, pp. 219-220
Convergence 2015 mvmts theol 2

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