Dori Baker reflects on the benefits of an “ethnography of hope” at the Alban blog. She quotes Thomas E. Frank, a seasoned observer of church life, noting that he “writes about turning to ethnographic practices of listening as a way to escape what he perceived to be market-driven perspectives prevalent in church-improvement literature. He found most of that writing to be largely prescriptive, tending to depict a congregation ‘as a franchise in a service industry, completely missing the remarkable imaginative life of a community of persons who stay together over time, practicing a faithful way of life together.’ As an alternative approach, he favors a disposition toward ethnography that ‘honors this particular congregation, the one right in front of me, the one I am serving.'”
Our own Christian Scharen is also writing about ethnography these days, having just edited a fascinating collection of essays with Aana Marie Vigen entitled Ethnology as Christian Theology and Ethics.
Ethnography is at the heart of many of the projects taken up by people in our DMIN program in congregational mission and leadership. We’re in the process of interviewing these talented pastors, and will be bringing you these interviews later this fall.
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