PAPERS Resources

AAR Annual Meeting
Denver, CO
November 17-20, 2018

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Ecclesial Practices Unit

Statement of Purpose: 

Ecclesial Practices provides a collaborative space at the intersection of ethnographic and other qualitative approaches and theological approaches to the study of ecclesial practices. This might include churches, other (new, emerging, para-church, and virtual) communities, and lived faith in daily life. International in scope, the unit encourages research contributing to a deeper understanding of “church in practice” in a global context, including decolonization and postcolonial theologies. The unit encourages ongoing research in the following areas:

• Empirical and theological approaches to the study of ecclesial communities (churches, congregations, and emerging communities), especially as interdisciplinary efforts to understand lived faith and practice extending from them
• Studies of specific ecclesial activities, e.g. music, liturgy, arts, social justice, youth work, preaching, pastoral care, rites of passage, community organizing
• Studies of global contexts of lived faith in relation to ecclesial communities, for example, decolonizing and postcolonial theory and theology
• Discussions of congregational growth and decline, new church movements, and ecclesial experiments connected to shared practices in a worldly church
• Explorations of Christian doctrine in relation to the potential implications of empirical and qualitative research on ecclesial communities and lived faith for discerning, defining, and challenging standard theological genres such as systematics and doctrine, as well as inviting new ways to understand normative logics
• Discussions of methodological issues with regard to qualitative research on theological topics, especially related to ecclesial communities and lived faith
• Discussions (both substantive and methodological) of the implications of new technologies and digital cultures for ecclesial communities and lived faith

Call for Papers: 

We are interested in papers that address the theoretical, theological and methodological challenges and possibilities of attending to digital media in ethnographic research for ecclesiology, as well as examples of theological ethnography with a focus on digital media. We are particularly interested in papers that attend to how individuals and communities actively create their Christian identity both in Church and the wider society through their use of digital media.

• Mediated Faith: Digital Media, Christian Life, and Theology
Digital technologies that are embedded in the fabric of everyday life also influence Christian practice in fundamental ways. Because digitization effects faith, theology and ecclesial practices at both the personal and a community levels, digital media must be attended to when doing ethnographic studies of contemporary Christian life and churches. In this call, we are looking for papers that use ethnographic methods to analyze how both individuals and communities actively construct their ecclesial and theological identities in relation to digital media.

Proposer names are visible to chairs but anonymous to steering committee members
ChairSteering Committee