Academic journal article Anglican Theological Review

The Postmodern Parish: New Ministry for a New Era

Academic journal article Anglican Theological Review

The Postmodern Parish: New Ministry for a New Era

Article excerpt

The Postmodern Parish: New Ministry for a New Era. By Jim Kitchens. Herndon, Va.: Alban Institute, 2003. xv + 110 pp. $15.00 (paper).

Over the years, the Alban Institute has provided church leaders with wide-reaching and eclectic resources for Christian ministry. Some focus narrowly on a particular set of current issues or newly relevant skills; others record how new challenges have shaped creative responses. A few have identified major shifts in emphasis in the light of social change and even invited us to consider whether paradigm shifts in church and ministry call for radical new ways of thinking about and doing ministry. Still others are of secondary but still practical importance, drawing out the implications of more groundbreaking or theoretical work.

Jim Kitchens's book, The Postmodern Parish: New Ministry for a New Era, seems to fall solidly into the last category. It is based mostly on his experience as co-pastor of Davis Community Church, a mainstream congregation in the small university city of Davis, California.

The first two chapters describe Kitchens's growing awareness that the much discussed phenomenon of "postmodernism" and the "emerging church" that it calls forth do in fact have important implications for ministry in mainstream Christian congregations. The rest of this brief book spells out some of the efforts that he, his co-pastor, and the congregation undertook to respond to the new reality they were experiencing. The marks of what Kitchens calls "a new context for ministry" are postmodernism, postChristendom, and postdenominationalism (pp. 5-24). Kitchen himself experienced the changes called for by the transition from a ministry oriented primarily towards baby boomers to the very different generations that follow them. Making sense of the changes led him to work perhaps already familiar to readers of this journal, especially that of Loren Mead and Diogenes Alien, and his analysis depends heavily on them.

The practical insights shared in The Postmodern Parish reflect the author's sense that the need for new styles of ministry is urgent. The "new era" will, he believes, undoubtedly affect the future of Christian worship, formation, mission, and leadership, to each of which he devotes a chapter. The highly context-specific nature of these more practically oriented chapters makes them difficult to evaluate. …

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