A Trinitarian vision of leadership in the Church
This dissertation deals with Trinitarian leadership in the Church. Very little is written on the subject of Trinitarian leadership, even though there has been a dramatic rise in interest in Trinitarian theology throughout the second half of the 20th century and now at the beginning of the 21st. The dissertation utilizes governing dynamics of the Triune God in action within the Gospel to address the problem of leadership in the Church today. Drawing on the Trinitarian soteriology and ecclesiology of John and Charles Wesley and their embodiment in early Methodism, the dissertation develops a Trinitarian vision of leadership in the Church for today.
The first chapter analyzes contemporary ecclesiological leadership literature. The contemporary Church and leadership literature in the Church draw their patterns for leadership as well as their ecclesiological vision from the secular world rather than from the Trinitarian activity of God in the Gospel. Churches often see themselves as the providers of spiritual goods and services for the contemporary culture to consume and cannot fulfill their call as vessels of the Gospel, embodiments of the soteriological activity of the Triune God, or transcripts of the Trinity, to use Charles Wesley's illuminating phrase.
The second chapter draws heavily on the Trinitarian soteriology and ecclesiology of John Wesley and the early Methodist movement. Wesley developed a working vision of an ordered process of salvation through which people are transformed by the Triune God and moved into faithful participation in the work the Triune God was doing in their lives and in the world. This chapter develops Wesley's mostly implicit Trinitarian patterns of leadership deeply rooted the leaders' discipleship journey and embodiment communally in the relations between leaders the rest of the members of the Body of Christ.
The third chapter develops a contemporary vision of Trinitarian leadership in the Church drawing upon the analyses of contemporary leadership in chapter one and the Trinitarian insights from Wesley and early Methodism in chapter two. Chapter three presents a vision of the Church, ministry, and its leadership as a new way forward as the Church re-embraces the Trinitarian character of the Christian faith and life. This vision involves a Trinitarian understanding of the purpose for humanity and of salvation as the telos of human life. This chapter concludes with a vision of Trinitarian leadership for the Church today, using Cornerstone United Methodist Church as an example of a congregation struggling to meet the needs of the culture at the expense of its own relationship with the Triune God.
The fourth chapter of this dissertation presents the results of an initial attempt to move the leadership of Cornerstone United Methodist Church toward a Trinitarian vision of the Church, ministry and leadership. The chapter scrutinizes the struggle at Cornerstone to move away from the current secular leadership models implicitly and at times explicitly operative in this congregation. Evaluation of the project and a prospectus of for further study conclude this dissertation.
0320: Religious history