Pittman Case Brief for “A Church for All People” Amanda Pittman

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Case Brief for “A Church for All People”
Amanda Pittman
Middler Year Portfolio Review
Dr. Fred Aquino and Vann Conwell
April 8, 2011
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Case Introduction and Analysis
Though multiple dimensions within the case can be identified, two primary issues
lie behind the crisis at hand: the preservation of unity and relationship within the midst of
the church’s great diversity and the envisioned identity of the local congregation as a
gathering of God’s people. A latent ethnocentrism in members of this multi-cultural
community contributed to mishandled and subsequently misunderstood ministry
attempts, which ultimately lead to strained relationships. In the face of this and other
difficulties arising from cultural conflicts, Bruce is now forced to determine whether his
vision for a diverse but unified congregation is both effective and faithful to the gospel.
Bruce’s congregation clearly expresses its intention to become “A Church For All
People,” making it reasonable to assume that by and large the congregation has embraced
the vision proposed. Even despite the clear intention, the efforts of the church along those
lines have failed in this situation due to the indirect manifestation of ethnocentrism, the
tendency for individuals to “place their own group (ethnic, racial, or cultural) at the
center of their observations,” in the expectations and actions taken in response to Ansa’s
loss.1 Based on her cultural heritage, Ansa expected the church to minister to her by
coming to her house to spend time with her. When the outreach of the church failed to
match her expectations and needs, Ansa interpreted their actions negatively despite
positive intentions. While some members of the congregation completely failed to
respond, many who responded did so according to their own cultural expectations rather
1
Peter G. Northouse, Leadership Theory and Practice (Thousand Oaks, Calif.: Sage, 2007), 303.
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than considering hers. All parties interpreted the needs and actions of others in terms of
their own cultural lens rather than striving to interpret in terms of the other party’s.2
Most church members would probably affirm Foster’s assertion that a church
celebrating all cultures would edify other cultures “on their own terms.”3 Efforts to
educate the community on the cultural groups within them indicate as much. Yet action
upon that assertion appears inconsistent in light of the frequency of intercultural conflict.
The fact that no inquiry was made into appropriate ministry to Ansa in her grief provides
a clear example of that lack, which may have two underlying causes. First, it could
indicate unwillingness to place other’s needs above personal preference.4 Second, honest
mutual communication in diverse groups involves inherent difficulties.
Most pertinent to this case, most individuals from non-Western cultures prefer
indirect methods of communication particularly in situations of conflict. Ansa’s actions
suggest that she shares that predilection; she not only contacts Bruce, a third party, with
her grievance but also refers to her grievance with a church as a whole rather than naming
an individual. Bruce in his experience with the church has already noticed the comfort
the dominant culture felt with expressing their displeasure on an issue directly in
meetings while minority groups typically only raised concerns in private conversations
with Bruce. Both types of action reveal a split between indirect and direct styles of
conflict management and communication.5 In addition, effective communication requires
an equal distribution of power not present in this church where the more vocal white
2
Gudykunst provides further helpful information regarding different types of misattribution
stemming from individualist and collectivist cultures. William B. Gudykunst and Young Yun Kim,
Communicating With Strangers (New York: McGraw-Hill, 2003), 195.
3
Charles R. Foster, Embracing Diversity (Bethesda, Md: Alban Institute, 1997), 47.
4
Other church members indicated their own discomfort with African customs regarding presence
in times of grief.
5
Elmer, Duane. Cross-Cultural Conflict: Building Relationships for Better Ministry (Downers
Grove, IL: Intervarsity Press, 1993), 51.
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middle class controls the administration.6 Power dynamics among members from
majority and minority groups could prevent the communication necessary for members to
serve one another in the manner most needed to preserve relationships and church unity.7
Given the difficulties in relationships between culturally diverse members and the
tension they have and continue to experience in church ministry, Bruce has been
compelled to reassess his vision for his individual congregation. More specifically, he
must determine if the homogenous unit principle, in which congregations are comprised
of uniform socio-economic or ethnic groups, more faithfully fulfills God’s intentions for
the church than his vision for a multi-cultural gathering. Bruce’s decision concerning the
nature of the church will inform his ministerial decisions in the situation at hand as well
as his understanding of his role as a minister within this congregation. In order to
determine an answer to both the large ecclesiological question and the immediate
practical question, a firm theological framework for Christian relationships and the
congregation is necessary.
Theological Proposal
The multivalent image of the church as the body of Christ provides a framework
for understanding and addressing issues within this multicultural congregation;
consistently throughout the New Testament, the metaphor speaks of a unity within
diversity that a multi-cultural congregation like this one demands.8 Romans 12, I
6
Foster goes so far as to argue that only churches embodying such power dispersion across groups
should be considered multicultural. Ibid., 21.
7
Ibid., 82. Patterns of speech in society in which minority groups or individuals often acquiesce
to those in the majority evidently function in the church as well.
8
P.T. Obrien, “Church,” DPL, 123-31. The image is Pauline in origin, found twelve times in his
corpus (Rom 12:4-8; I Cor 10:16-17; 12:12-30; Eph 1:23; 2:14-18; 4:4; 4:12-16; 5:23-30; Col 1:18; 1:24;
2:19; 3:15), and five times in Ephesians alone. Though the authorship of Ephesians is contested, Paul is
traditionally attributed this book and will be referred to as the author. MacDonald, Colossians and
Ephesians, 15.
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Corinthians 12 and Ephesians 4 employ the imagery in reference to diverse spiritual gifts
for which the body of Christ provides the unifying medium. In Eph 1 and 5 as well as in
Col 1 and 2, the body imagery refers specifically to the unity of the body with Christ as
the head. Most relevant to this case, the body of Christ in Eph 2:14-18 unites the diverse
ethnic groups of Jew and Gentile, who are being “reconciled” and made a “new
humanity.” The image of the church as body, therefore, addresses both the relationship
between God and significance of that relationship for relationships between individuals
within that church community. Stated another way, with regard to church members the
“horizontal dimension of unity is based on the vertical unity between the church as the
body of Christ and Christ as the head.”9
Of particular relevance to this case is the explication of the body of Christ in Eph
2:14-18 in which the body unites the diverse ethnic groups of Jew and Gentile, who are
being “reconciled” and made a “new humanity.” Since Ephesians speaks specifically to a
church unified despite cultural and racial diversity, it suggests important ramifications for
Bruce’s congregation and thus deserves specific consideration. Scholarship has
frequently noted that the church referred to throughout the letter is universal rather than
local.10 If the universal and local congregations are bifurcated, arguments for racial
diversity within the universal body with homogeneity in local church bodies can easily be
made. Such bifurcation, however, is unfounded. Grenz, even as he elucidates the
differences between the two, states that the local church “derives its significance from its
R.Y.K Fung, “Body of Christ,” DPL, 76-81.
Theories explaining this phenomenon typically depend on the scholar’s view of authorship and
audience. C.E. Arnold, “Ephesians, Letter to the,” DPL, 238-49. See also MacDonald, Colossians and
Ephesians, 17. Arnold cites Eph 1:22; 3:10, 21; 5:23-25, 27, 29.
9
10
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participation in . . . the common whole.11 As each local congregation is “the church of
Jesus Christ in miniature,” all the descriptions of the universal church apply equally to
each individual congregation.12 If according to Ephesians 2 the universal church is to be
a place where Jewish and Gentile cultures come together in Christ since the “dividing
wall of hostility” has been destroyed, this particular congregation should also be in a
place in which different cultures come together in Christ.
In a style redolent of liturgy, Paul sets forth God’s action on behalf of humanity,
here the revelation of “the mystery of His will . . . to bring unity to all things in heaven
and on earth under Christ” (Eph 1:9-10).13 This “mystery, ”fully explicated in 3:3-10, is
the joining of the Gentiles with the Jews in the body of Christ,” identified as the church in
1:22-23. This will of God for the people of God finds expression in the Old Testament,
though not in a univocal sense. The final element of God’s covenant with Abraham, the
blessing of “all families of the earth” through Abraham’s offspring indicates the
eventually extending of God’s blessing to others (Gen 12:3).14 Throughout the story of
God’s people, Gentiles play prominent roles in the history of God’s people; stories like
those of Jonah and Ruth indicate God’s care for Gentiles and even their place within
God’s people. Exodus 34 and Deuteronomy 7, however, clearly prohibit treaties or
intermarriage with other nations for the sake of the purity of Israel. By the days of Ezra,
such intermarriage with the surrounding nations became viewed as the reason for exile
11
Stanley J. Grenz, Theology for the Community of God (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2000), 468.
Grenz, Theology, 468.
13
MacDonald, 197. Paul employs the term employs the term “mystery” in the development of the
book’s ecclesiology, therefore suggesting the church has some participation in God’s unifying intentions
through Christ. MacDonald, 201.
14
James Chukwuma Okoye, Israel and the Nations: A Mission Theology of the Old Testament
(Maryknoll, N.Y.: Orbis, 2006), 3. Okoye provides a survey of the complex nature of Israel’s mission to the
nations.
12
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and the nations current remnant status.15 Even the late prophecies of Trito-Isaiah that
envision the inclusion of Gentiles among God’s people appear to place them in a
subservient position to Israel.16
Resolution to the tension between these perspectives becomes clearer in the New
Testament appropriation of the traditions in the Hebrew Bible. From the earliest days of
Christ’s life and the predictions made about him it became clear that the good news
would apply to both Jews and Gentiles. Christ not only enacted that principle in his own
ministry but also instructed his disciples to do the same by making disciples of all nations
(Matt 28:18-20).17 Throughout the ministry of the early church and its leaders the
guidance of God in extending the gospel to the Gentiles is clear. The Holy Spirit
promised in Acts 1:8 filled the Gentiles in chapter 10, thus indicating their inclusion in
the people of God. The travels and epistles of Paul indicate the inclusion of multicultural
groups encountered.18
Beyond these examples, additional justification and historical precedence for the
inclusion of the Gentiles can be found in the words of Jesus and early church leaders.
Jesus connects his ministry to the prophets Elijah and Elisha who carried on their
ministry at times among Gentiles (Luke 4:23-27). The negative reaction of the Jewish
15
The prayer of Ezra provides this interpretation of events. So great was the offense that the only
imaginable solution was to divorce and send away foreign wives and the children born from that marriage.
Those guilty were specifically named in canonized scripture (Ezra10:14; 18-44). See also, Collins,
Introduction to the Hebrew Bible, 474.
16
Okoye, Israel and the Nations, 125. The imagery of these passages would later be picked up in
Revelation. John J. Collins, Introduction to the Hebrew Bible (Minneapolis: Fortress, 2004), 390.
17
At the presentation of Jesus at the temple in Luke 2:22-35 Simeon predicted that Jesus would be
the promise “prepared in the sight of all people, a light for revelation to the Gentiles and for glory to your
people Israel” (2:31-32).
18
The missionary journeys include Gentile cities, and Gentile individuals such as the Roman
centurion Cornelius in Acts 10. The inclusion of Gentiles in the church upon the rejected of Jesus by the
Jews is a major theme of Acts. For more on this theme see Johnsons introduction to Luke-Acts in pages
213-257 of Luke Timothy Johnson, The Writings of the New Testament: An Interpretation (Minneapolis:
Fortress, 1999).
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people to that reminder continued into the book of Acts in which Jewish opposition is a
recurring theme. The final chapter summarizes much of the developing inclusion of the
Gentiles and the Jewish response. Paul meets with Jewish leaders and demonstrates to
them from their own scriptures the validity of the inclusion of the Gentiles among God’s
people. To those who refused to accept he indicated that the people of God include all
who listen and obey, Jew or Gentile notwithstanding (Acts 28:17-28).
Throughout his ministry, Paul preaches and opens the church to all who will
listen; this inclusion indicates the proper relationship of each church to its context. In the
multicultural city of Rome, both Jews and Gentiles appear as members of the same local
congregation (Rom 16).19 The attention given to issues related to cultural differences in
Romans, Acts, Galatians, and Ephesians, the applicability of Jewish purity laws to Gentil
Christians for instance, indicate both that diversity within congregations existed and that
it frequently became problematic. Finally, even as the churches active at the time of the
writing evidenced diversity within individual communities, the portrayal of the gathering
of God’s people in Revelation speaks of “a great multitude . . . from every nation, tribe,
people, and language” coming together in worship of the Lamb” (Rev 7:9-10). This
ideal image of the church at the consummation is of no small importance; the church is
formed by the future, for it “projects in the present the principles that characterize the
reign of God.”20
The homogenous unit principle originated from a desire to remove unnecessary
obstacles to acceptance of the gospel and promote church growth; in Donald McGavran’s
words, “people like to become Christians without crossing racial, linguistic, or class
19
Randy Woodley, Living In Color (Downers Grove, Ill.: InterVarsity, 2001), 68. Herodian is
identified as a Jew while several names such as Narcissus are of Gentile origin.
20
Grenz, Theology, 479.
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barriers.”21 He further suggests that the racial tensions between Jews and Gentiles
partially explain Jewish resistance to the gospel and on that grounds should be avoided.22
This perspective serves as the basis for the homogenous unit principle, which appears at
first to serve God’s purposes most effectively. By removing unnecessary obstacles to
faith, the homogeneous unit principle promotes the spread of the gospel as part of God’s
reconciliatory purposes. The culturally based misunderstanding in this established
church has made the church unattractive even to loyal members. Bruce’s renewed
consideration of the homogenous unit principle indicates his awareness of its practical
and pastoral benefits. The absence of these cultural conflicts would free ministerial time
and energy for other concerns.
The interplay between theological resources of scripture, experience, and reason
fail to yield entirely conclusive results. As demonstrated above, tradition records both
ethnically closed and open communities; differences between instructions for God’s
people in the Old and New Testaments indicate as much. Experience in the current
conflict effectively reveals both the positive and negative aspects of multicultural
affiliations with which the social sciences concur. Finally, it is Bruce’s reasoned analysis
of the situation with Ansa and situations like it that has led him to a reconsideration of the
homogeneous unit principle, which seems both a reasonable compromise and a practical
solution to a seemingly unavoidable aspect of human interaction.
21
Donald A. McGavran, Understanding Church Growth (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1990), 163.
Much of his argument functions as polemic against mission strategies of enforcing cultural assimilation
with gospel acceptance. His opposition is noble, and in one sense consistent with the Scripture. When the
council of the early church met in Jerusalem it became clear that unnecessary cultural requirements such as
circumcision should not be required of new Gentile converts (Acts 15:1-29). Woodley notes that Paul in
Romans addresses both Gentiles and Jews, indicating sensitivity to differences in cultural identity in the
context of church community. Living in Color, 70..
22
McGavran, Understanding Church Growth, 168.
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Given the normative role of reconciliation as God’s ultimate purpose for
humanity, however, the homogeneous unit principle should be considered less faithful to
God’s purposes than other more diverse church models. A homogeneous church
community does possess the potential for significant growth and successful spread of the
gospel, strengths of the model not to be disregarded. The fellowship intended between
members also occurs more naturally with homogeneity, thereby facilitating peace and
naturally strong relationships among members. While homogeneous churches do not
deny others entrance into universal body of Christ, that fact does not mitigate the
exclusivity inherent to this principle. Since the church serves as an agent of God’s
reconciliation and enforced homogeneity demands selective extension of that offer on a
local church level, the model contradicts reconciliation to God and others even in
attempting to promote it. Homogeneity risks speaking of God’s concern for a specific
people group with at best little mention or at worst sheer exclusion of others.
This intentional and unavoidable exclusion of certain groups neglects the love of
God and neighbor, thereby violating the nature of the desired reconciliation. An
inclusive, multi-cultural, multi-racial, and multi-class community, however, provides an
opportunity for enacting God’s reconciliation on a higher, though certainly more
challenging level. Given the formative nature of the Christian community, questions
must be raised about the image of the church, its ministry, and the nature of life as
disciples of Christ impressed upon members by this policy. While it seems probable that
people would prefer to become Christian without the challenge of racial, linguistic and
class barriers, individual preference and ease seems to play a minimal role in the call of
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living in the community of cross-bearing believers.23 A re-examination of the qualities
and demands of discipleship and the implications of such for relationships within the
church community both reveals additional elements in the conflict at hand and moves the
discussion toward strategies for resolution of this and future conflict.
As the church is the body of Christ intended to carry out God’s unifying purposes
in the world, the self-renouncing and other-oriented nature of the Trinity demonstrates
the environment necessary for the growth of a unified and diverse body. The “reciprocal
self-dedication of the Trinitarian members” provides the foundation on which the unity of
God is built.24 Volf notes that the same self-dedication or “self-donation” is central to
understanding the proper relationship between Christians.25 Nowhere is the “selfdonation” of the Trinity more eloquently portrayed than the hymn of Philippians 2:5-11.
In support of his call for the church to “stand firm on one spirit,” Paul presents Christ as a
premier model of the behavior necessary for the sought unity, urging the church to share
the same “mindset” as Christ.26 In the hymn, Christ though existing in the “very nature”
of God, “empties himself” of that nature in order to take on the “very nature” of a servant
(Phil 2:6-7). His becoming human and obediently dying of the cross provide the ultimate
example of the instruction for the Philippians in 2:4: “each of you should look not to your
own interests, but also to the interests of others.” The cross, therefore, is the
The demand that disciples “take up their cross daily and follow” suggests as much (Luke 9:40).
Grenz, Theology, 72.
25
Miroslav Volf, Exclusion and Embrace: A Theological Exploration of Identity, Otherness, and
Reconciliation (Nashville: Abingdon, 1996), 23.
26
In this “hortatory letter of friendship,” 1:27-30 serve as the “primary imperative” of the letter,
designated the propositio by those employing rhetorical categories in their analysis. Gordon D. Fee, Paul’s
Letter to the Philippians (NICOT; Grand Rapids: Eerdman’s, 1997), 11; 29. Bonnie Bowman Thurston and
Judith Ryan, Philippians and Philemon (Collegeville, Minn: Liturgical Press, 2004), 39.
Letters of friendship are characterized by the use of models or exemplars to teach ethics. Christ, Timothy,
Epaphroditus, and Paul are all presented as such exemplars. Fee, Letter to the Philippians, 11. Fronew
plays an important role in Philippians as a whole and 2:1-11 in particular. Translated here as “mindset,” it
refers not to shared opinion but to “an inward attitude of mind or disposition of will,” here one seeking
unity in the church. Gerald D. Hawthorne, Philippians (WBC 43; Nashville: Nelson Publishing, 2004), 86.
23
24
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paradigmatic event for the church’s understanding of the extent of Christ’s selfrenouncement, for “the self-giving love manifested on the cross and demanded by it lies
at the core of the Christian faith” and therefore the church.27
In order for this congregation to become a church characterized by the nature of
God seen in the cross, it must deepen its understanding of “the way of selfrenouncement”28 All members of the congregation regardless of race and status must
bring into their fellowship a willingness to consider the others they meet on their own
terms, suspending judgment until motivations are known and practicing humility
regarding their own ideas and approaches. Given the descriptions of the diverse but
unified body of Christ, the extension of the message of reconciliation to God throughout
scripture, the examples provided by early Christian communities, and the eschatological
visions of God’s people, “A Church For All People” appears more consistent with God’s
overarching desire and means for reconciliation than the homogeneous unit principle.
With a commitment to the self-renouncing way of Jesus and to the vision of the church as
a community proleptically enacting God’s reconciliatory purposes, Bruce can intentially
foster a milieu in which growth in Christ can occur on an individual and corporate level.
Prescription
Given the complexity of the situation, the leadership response must recognize the
complexity and respond appropriately. Viewing leadership as the triad of interpretive,
relational and implemental activities provides one helpful way to craft responses and a
27
Volf, Exclusion and Embrace, 25. In a similar way the cross serves as the basis for the ethical
instruction in Ephesians to love “just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us” (Eph 5:2).
28
C. Leonard Allen, The Cruciform Church: Becoming a Cross Shaped People in a Secular World
(Abilene, Tex.: Abilene Christian University Press, 1990), 149. This helpful book provides further
explanation of the difficulties of pursuing this vision for church created by modern culture. “Selfrenouncement” should be taught with care in order to avoid reinforcing destructive abuses of power by
teaching those abused in unhealthy relationships that their ill treatment is Christ’s intent for their life.
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way forward for this congregation.29 Not a strictly sequential model, these three areas
overlap and intermingle as each area influences the others. The prescriptions made here
will be arranged according to these three areas of leadership.
Given the hurt and pain being experienced by Ansa, pastoral care toward Ansa as
an expression of relational leadership appropriately takes precedence in the short term.30
As made apparent in her phone call, physical presence places a central role in ministering
to her. While Bruce should not be the only member to extend such care, given the high
level of comfort Ansa feels with Bruce it would be wise for him to visit her personally.
Given the diversity in the congregation, a stance of “not knowing” would be appropriate
and important for Bruce. Assuming this stance in which Bruce considers himself a guest
in the counseling process allows him to hear Ansa more accurately while mitigating the
power imbalance between them.31 This information is necessary for Bruce to take
effective action to address her pain and restore her relationship with the church.
Handling conflict and misunderstanding in multi-cultural situations requires
awareness, sensitivity, and a willingness of all to practice self-renouncement in regard to
cultural biases and tendencies. While the best aim is not to erase cultural influences,
considerable effort should be made to recognize and if necessary supersede differences
through careful listening and collaboration.32 Given Ansa’s apparent preference for
29
Branson and Martinez suggest these three areas specifically for use in congregations influenced
by cultural diversity. Mark Lau Branson and Juan F. Martinez, Churches, Cultures, and Leadership: A
Practical Theology of Congregations and Ethnicities (Downers Grove: IVP Academic, 2011), 55.
30
The call for the church to extend care is supported by Hebrews 10:24-25 and II Cor. 1:3-5. As
Ansa suggested, the church should be a community that supports members in times of grief and difficulty.
31
Katherine Godby, “Extending Hospitality” in Strategies for Brief Pastoral Counseling, (Ed.
Howard W. Stone; Minneapolis: Fortress, 2001), 61-75. Elmer notes that one method of indirect conflict
management is the “one down” position; by seeking Ansa’s help in understanding he utilizes that strategy.
Elmer, Cross-Cultural Conflict, 80.
32
Nisbett’s suggestions regarding collaborative efforts between Asian and Western cultures apply
to this multicultural situation as well. The goal ought not be primary to homogenize the church but rather
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indirect conflict resolution, Bruce’s cultural sensitivity, gained largely by relationship
with those of different cultures, becomes increasingly important.33 In Ansa’s case,
resolution through a mediator might be the most appropriate solution. If, however, Ansa
and other members feel unable to challenge the dominant group, Bruce and others can
empower her to speak by careful listening and presence.34 An important step for Bruce,
therefore, is to gather the information necessary to reconcile relationships and encourage
others to join in keeping “the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace” (Eph 4:3).35
The second area of leadership that Bruce ought to engage is interpretive
leadership. Attention to the creation of meaning within the church community most
commonly through stories should be top priority, for healthy intercultural communities
can by created by “affirming our polycenteredness, by engaging our own stories and by
creating new stories of mutual accountability and shared missional life.”36 To encourage
congregational participation in meaning making, Bruce might create opportunities for
individuals members of the congregation to share their stories with the entire
congregation.37 These stories can then content for theological reflection, facilitate greater
to utilize the gifts of both cultural perspectives in tandem. Richard E. Nisbett, The Geography of Thought:
How Asians and Westerners Think Differently and Why (New York: Free Press, 2003), 229.
33
Foster, Embracing Diversity, 47. Elmer. Cross-Cultural Conflict, 50. Branson and Martinez
suggest relational leadership precisely due to relationships ability to enlarge perspectives and build trust ..
Churches, Cultures, and Leadership, 219.
34
For Godby viewing the counselee as expert is “a necessary …if the power dynamics in the room
are to contribute to mutuality.” For her, a hospitable approach in which the pastor considers himself or
herself a guest assists in maintaining an appropriate balance of power. Godby, “Extending Hospitality,” 69.
35
Should Bruce like further reading on theological principles and practical suggestions for
peacemaking, The Peacemakers: A Biblical Guide to Resolving Personal Conflict by Ken Sande provides
practical guidelines. While the majority of the book addresses conflict the reader is directly involved in,
the principles applhy in counseling others. Appendix F at the back of the book also provides a list of key
elements for incorporating peacemaking into the congregational culture. The book is put together by
PeaceMaker Ministries, an organization established to aid congregations in handing conflict. Ken Sande,
The Peacemakers: A Biblical Guide to Resolving Personal Conflict (Grand Rapids: Baker Books, 2004).
36
Branson and Martinez, Churches, Cultures, and Leadership, 91.
37
A variety of methods might be used here including video or audio recordings, testimonies in
worship services or casual opportunities around communal meals.
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understanding of one another, and prompt creative determination of a communal
narrative in light of the individual narratives contributed.38
The final aspect of interpretive leadership to which Bruce must attend lies within
himself. As minister, must educate himself on cultural differences in order to
appropriately handle issues arising from ethnocentrism and cultural ignorance. In that
role he will need to remain aware of his own cultural biases in order to seek first to
understand expectations for and reactions to activities of the church. He will also need to
mitigate his tendency to internalize the church’s problems.39 Bruce also has an
opportunity to invite the congregation into some strategic planning and vision casting for
the community. By inviting a wide variety of congregational leaders into the discussion,
a church mission and congregational covenant can be created that would provide some
scripturally based guidance for conflict resolution and community behavior.40
Actions Bruce takes through the worship and teaching ministries of the church fall
under the category of implemental leadership. These ministries assist in creating an
environment in which the church will be encouraged to define itself in terms of God’s
intentions for his people.41 Both areas provide an opportunity to craft an overarching
narrative inviting the church to join God’s reconciliatory work both within and without
their midst. In addition, stories, parables, and proverbs provide another indirect means of
conflict management; use of these literary forms fit well within sermons and worship
experiences, and the use of such literary forms from scripture can not only work for
38
Sharing stories provides another opportunity for valuing the distinctiveness of minority cultures.
The need for self reflection becomes particularly important for those in the midst of conflictive
situations and those responsible for mediating such situations. Hugh F. Halverstadt, Managing Church
Conflict (Louisville, KY: Westminster/John Knox Press, 1991): 21.
40
For a helpful guide to writing such a behavioral covenant and the benefits of that endeavor, see
Gilbert R. Rendel, Behavioral Covenants in Congregations (Bethesda, MD: Alban Institute): 1999.
41
In worship the overlap between implemental, relational, and interpretive leadership becomes
particularly apparent, as these suggests indicate.
39
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conflict resolution but cement the imperative for such resolution in the scripture.42 A
selection of five sermons written with this congregations characteristics and needs in
mind has been provided in the Appendix to facilitate further thought along these lines.
The Lord’s Supper and baptism, central practices of Christian life, provide rich
sources of reflection and embodied proclamation. The participation in the selfrenouncing death, burial, and resurrection of Christ that occurs in baptism invites
believers to participate in and be formed by that pattern of living.43 Weekly celebration
of communion prompts reflection on the implications of Christ’s death for communal
life. The oneness of the loaf to as symbol for the oneness of the diverse Corinthian
church provides a scriptural example of the implications of sharing the table within
diverse communities.44 Bruce can further facilitate this discussion by encouraging the
worship committee to utilize those themes. Finally, a diverse small groups ministry
could provide inclusion, mutual ministry, and hospitality. Hospitality, a powerful force,
helps create diverse, inclusive community by valuing of each person through welcome.45
Bruce, as one given the gift of teaching and leading can fulfill an important,
though not solo, role “to prepare God’s people for works of service sot that the body of
Christ may be built up” (Eph 4:11-12). God will bring final unity, but Bruce can by
virtue of his role and ability assist all members in employing their own gifts for the
building up of the church. In doing so he can facilitate the creation of a community
envisioning itself as the body of Christ and enacting the self-renouncing behavior of the
42
Elmer, Cross-Cultural Conflict, 99.
Volf, Exclusion and Embrace, 25.
44
The division in Bruce’s church, while largely racial, involve economic differences; it seems
clear that the Corinthian church included poor and affluent members. The congregation’s regular practice
of World Communion Sunday indicates some experience of powerful unity through this communal
practice. Gerd Theissen, The Social Setting of Pauline Christianity (Philadelphia: Fortress, 1982), 72.
45
Christine D. Pohl, Making Room: Recovering Hospitality as a Christian Tradition (Grand
Rapids: Eerdmans, 1999), 64.
43
Pittman 16
trinity in relationships found therein. While continuing to celebrate cultural differences,
greater inclusion and hospitality can be sought as the body strives to “grow up into . . .
the head, that is, Christ” (Eph 4:15).
Works Cited
Allen, C. Leonard. The Cruciform Church: Becoming a Cross Shaped People in a
Secular World. Abilene, Tex.: Abilene Christian University Press, 1990.
Arnold, C.E. “Ephesians, Letter to the” Pages 238-49 in Dictionary of Paul and His
Letters. Edited by Gerald F. Hawthorne and Ralph P. Martin. Downers Grove,
Ill.: InterVarsity, 1993.
Branson, Mark Lau and Juan F. Martinez. Churches, Cultures and Leadership: A
Practical Theology of Congregations and Ethnicities. Downers Grove, Ill: IVP
Academic, 2011.
Collins, John J. Introduction to the Hebrew Bible, Minneapolis: Fortress, 2004.
Elmer, Duane. Cross-Cultural Conflict. Downers Grove, Ill.: Intervarsity, 1993.
Fee, Gordon D. Paul’s Letter to the Philippians. New International Commentary on the
New Testament. Grand Rapids: Eerdman’s, 1995.
Foster, Charles R. Embracing Diversity. Bethesda, Md.: Alban Institute, 1997.
Fung, R.Y.K. “Body of Christ.” Pages 76-81 in Dictionary of Paul and His Letters.
Edited by Gerald F. Hawthorne and Ralph P. Martin. Downers Grove, Ill.:
InterVarsity, 1993.
Grenz, Stanley J. Theology for the Community of God. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2000.
Godby, Katherine. “Extending Hospitality.” Pages 61-75 in Strategies for Brief Pastoral
Counseling. Edited by Howard W. Stone. Minneapolis: Fortress, 2001.
Gudykunst, William B. and Young Yun Kim. Communicating With Strangers. New
York: McGraw-Hill, 2003.
Halverstadt, Hugh F. Managing Church Conflict. Louisville, KY: Westminster/John
Knox Press, 1991.
Pittman 17
Hawthorne, Gerald D. Philippians. Word Biblical Commentary 43. Nashville: Nelson
Publishing, 2004.
Johnson, Luke Timothy. The Writings of the New Testament: An Interpretation.
Minneapolis: Fortress, 1999.
MacDonald, Margaret Y. Colossians and Ephesians. Sacra Pagina 17. Collegeville,
Minn.: Liturgical, 2007.
McGavran, Donald A. Understanding Church Growth. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1990.
Nisbett, Richard E. The Geography of Thought: How Asians and Westerners Think
Differently and Why. New York: Free Press, 2003.
Northhouse, Peter G. Leadership Theory and Practice. Thousand Oaks, Calif.: Sage,
2007.
O’Brien, P.T. “Church.” Pages 123-31 in Dictionary of Paul and His Letters. Edited by
Gerald F. Hawthorne and Ralph P. Martin. Downers Grove, Ill.: InterVarsity,
1993.
Okoye, James Chukwuma. Israel and the Nations: A Mission Theology of the Old
Testament. Maryknoll, N.Y.: Orbis, 2006.
Pohl, Christine D. Making Room: Recovering Hospitality as a Christian Tradition.
Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1999.
Rendel, Gilbert R. Behavioral Covenants in Congregations. Bethesda, MD: Alban
Institute, 1999.
Theissen, Gerd. The Social Setting of Pauline Christianity. Philadelphia: Fortress, 1982.
Thurston, Bonnie Bowman and Judith Ryan. Philippians and Philemon. Sacra Pagina
10. Collegeville, Minn.: Liturgical Press, 2004.
Volf, Miroslav. Exclusion and Embrace: A Theological Exploration of Identity,
Otherness, and Reconciliation. Nashville: Abingdon, 1996.
Woodley, Randy. Living In Color. Downers Grove, Ill.: InterVarsity, 2001.
Appendix A
Pittman 18
Sermon 1
Title: Call and Response
Text: Genesis 12:1-9
Focus Statement:
God extends his promise and calls his people to “go forth” in confident response to the
future he projects.
Function Statement:
To remind the church to take action in ways demonstrating faith in God’s promised future
for his people.
Pericope Rational:
This passage was chosen with an eye toward the church’s recent conflict that may have
created doubt in the possibility of the eschatological vision proposed for the church. As a
community called to “go forth” in response to the as yet unrealized vision for God’s
people, the focus and function of the sermon reminds the church both that the promise is
in the process of fulfillment and that they are to act in ways faithful to God’s intentions
for his people in the meantime.
Sermon Plot Line:
Found in nearly every culture around the world, travel stories, often full of surprise and
suspense, captivate us because they contain suspense and surprise. Even then, we don’t
like to travel that way because we prefer confirmation at every step. Still, God did not
plan our kind of trip for Abraham, and he wants us as his people to travel forward in faith
in his future destination.
Move 1
 Opening Sentence: Found in nearly every culture around the world, travel stories,
often full of surprising twists and encounters, captivate our imagination.
 Description of Move: Move will name and briefly describe examples of travel
stories from around the world. 46 The emphasis in each story will be on surprising
elements within those stories, such as unexpected turns, surprising beginnings,
unforeseen challenges, etc., particularly on the ways in which those elements
fundamentally change or shape the outcome of the story.47
 Closing Sentence: As widespread as they are popular, such exciting travel stories
continue to captivate us.
Move 2
46
Great care will be taken to include stories from the home countries of members of the
congregation. This specific choice provides an additional opportunity to celebrate the cultural diversity of
the congregation.
47
“Surprise” was chosen to convey the sense of immediacy and the sharp shift that occurs when
God calls Abraham. This decisive moment dramatically shapes the following chapters of Genesis,
changing the course of the book and inaugurating a new era and the people of God as a whole. Almost
Israel’s entire history finds its basis in this text, and it begins with the sudden and surprising entrance of
God.
Pittman 19



Opening Sentence: But we don’t like to travel that way because we prefer
confirmation at every step.48
Description of Move: This move will contain two parts. It will first describe the
undesirable uncertainties of travel. Having done that it will give particular
examples of the lengths at times taken to ensure that all aspects of a trip are
confirmed and guaranteed. These examples could include the efforts of travel
companies to provide confirmation, the iPhones ability to provide remote checkin and locate restaurants in the terminal, and other travel innovations designed to
provide control and eliminate surprising elements.
Closing Sentence: We want control over every step, to know when and how we
are going to get where we are going, what steps are necessary along the way, and
we certainly do not like to travel without knowing about our destination.
Move 3
 Opening Sentence: Still, God did not plan our kind of trip for Abraham.
 Description of the Move: Supplying critical background information for the
pericope, this move will delve into the text in which God has broken suddenly
into the story, inviting Abraham into a journey. An intentional parallel will be
drawn with the previous move as common travel anxieties such as lodging,
character of destination, location of destination, purpose of travel, etc are shown
to be elements of Abraham’s experience. Emphasis will be places on the call of
God and the response of Abraham in which God said, “Go” and Abraham
“went.”49
 Closing sentence: God planned a trip for Abraham that required a step out in faith
that God would provide the means, the direction, and even the destination.
Move 4:
 .Opening Sentence: . . and he wants us as his people to travel in faith in his future
destination.
 Description of the Move: As it is most important to connect the physical and
geographic journey of Abraham to a stationary congregation, this move will
parallel Abraham’s journey to our own forward progress as the people of God in
the attempt to enact His vision for the church.50 Movement to achieve and live out
48
The focus on personal travel intends to encompass a broad range of travel so that even those
who do not travel frequently or for vacation purposes might find points of connection. Many of the
members of the congregation are immigrants who may not have traveled to the United States under the best
of circumstances. For that reason, the focus on this move will intentionally be placed on the anxiety often
caused by travel uncertainties and questions about the nature of the destination. Elements of travel
commercials will be noted as travel advertisements are ubiquitous and therefore recognizable even if not
employed.
49
As noted in the exegesis section, the pericope is organized around these two actions, both
introduced by the verb “Go.” Due to the importance of this textual element to the exegesis it will be
appropriately emphasized here.
50
For this particular congregation, a specific connection the stated vision of the church can be
drawn at this point. As the difficulties of both Sarah’s barrenness and the presence of the Canaanites in the
land are both attested to in this pericope, attention can be given to the inherent difficulties in the vision that
nevertheless should not stand as roadblocks.
Pittman 20

the vision of the church likewise depends on faith that God will accomplish the
vision he has set forth. In describing the movement of the church, travel
metaphors and language will be consistently employed.51
Closing Sentence: As the people of God, we move toward God’s future not in
faith that we can plan the right way to get there but in deep faith that through our
faithful response God will accomplish his vision.
Sermon 2
Title: Do as I Say and as I Do
Text: Deuteronomy 10:12-22
Focus Statement:
God’s own nature and actions for his people provide the basis and model for his
commands to love and fear the Lord and to love others.
Function Statement:
To prompt the church to show the same loving commitment or loyalty to God and to
others that God demonstrates in his own nature and actions.
Pericope Rational:
As the ethics of the community should be patterned after the nature of the Trinity, this
passage pictures the evident nature of God and reflection on the community’s experience
as dual lens through which those ethics can be identified and therefore practiced.
Sermon Plot Line:
We find “do as I say not as I do” convincing because it communicates a lack of
commitment. The Lord says instead to his people “Do as I say for it is what I do.” The
Lord asks of all his people to share the same level of loyalty and commitment to both him
and others.
Move 1:
- Opening sentence: We do not find “do as I say not as I do” convincing because it
communicates a lack of commitment.
- Description of the move: This move will demonstrate the tension between
instructions that lack backing by giving concrete and specific examples. These
could include a boss who reprimands employees for arriving five minutes late
when he or she is commonly arrives much later.52 These examples will also vary
between application toward the person giving the example and application toward
others.53
51
The travel metaphors and images are intended to further convey the idea of movement present in
the passage; these metaphors will also serve to create an inclusion with move 1.
52
Creating this tension in the mind of the church will allow for a sharp contrast to the Lord’s
method of instruction as seen in the pericope and described in move 2.
53
The alternation between the two parties reflects the movement of the passage which commands
the Israelites to love and serve the Lord, to cease to be stubborn with regard to him, but also to love and
treat others with the same love and care God demonstrates. Both elements are crucial for describing a full
community ethic for the church.
Pittman 21
-
Closing sentence: When the person giving the instructions is clearly not
committed to following them, little motivated we have to wonder “why do it?”
Move 2:
- Opening Sentence: The Lord says to his people “do as I say for it is what I do.”54
- Description: In moving to the text, this move stresses the difference between the
unsubstantiated instructions described in move one and those both given and
modeled in the passage. This move will draw clear attention to the liturgical and
poetic descriptions of God employed by using similar language. Different
language will be used to describe the instructions to the people given in the
intermediate sections.55. Finally, attention will be given to the distinctive use of
covenantal language in the passage, particularly the connection between “love”
and “covenant loyalty.”56
- Closing Sentence: The Lord says to his people: “Why do it? Because I do it?”57
Move 3:
- Opening Sentence: The Lord asks his people to share the same level of loyalty
and commitment to both him and others.
- Description: This final move will apply the passage to the congregation by
reminding the church that community ethics are rooted in the loyalty of God.
Specific concretizations will be described, all based on the structure “As God,
therefore we.”58 In addition, the concretizations will carefully employ the same
verbs used in the pericope with particular attention to those used of God and those
used to describe what the Lord requires of his people.
- Closing Sentence: God doesn’t ask any more loyalty of us than he demonstrates
himself, and therefore our own actions find their basis in the actions of God
toward others and ourselves.
Sermon 3
Title: A God With More Power Than the Powerful
Text: Isaiah 46:1-13
Focus Statement:
God remains sovereign over all other powers and calls his people to remember his
supreme power and trust in him.
Function Statement:
54
I chose to reformulate the statement given in move 1 in order to portray the contrast to be
described as move 2 develops.
55
The change in tone and diction will further demonstrate the alteration between description and
command at work in the passage.
56
This clarification will be necessary for an effective transition into move 3.
57
Imitating the conclusion of Move 1 will further cement the contrast between instructions not
followed by those giving them and instruction based in the actions of the authority.
58
The format of the concretizations will harken back to both the contrast of move 1 and the “do as
I say which is what I do” reformulation in move 2.
Pittman 22
To encourage the church to place their trust in God’s ability to accomplish his purposes
of salvation and restoration for his people despite other powers that appear in control.
Pericope Rational:
This church has experienced some powerful victories in the coming together of diverse
groups of people. It has also experienced threat and challenge from issues that can seem
at times greater than all other elements. This passage calls for a renewed faith in God’s
power based on his supremacy to other powers and the history of his continual
sustainment of his people.
Sermon Plot Line:
The forces that oppose and oppress us can seem insurmountable. As exiles the people of
Israel seemed insignificant in comparison to the power of Babylon. The prophet Isaiah,
however, suggests that the gods of Babylon are insignificant in comparison to the power
of Yahweh. Because Yahweh is superior to all powers no matter how great, his people
can trust that he can and will do for them what he intends.
Move 1
 Opening Sentence: The forces that oppose and oppress us can seem
insurmountable
 Description of the move: This move expands the “little fish in a big pond” image
in the realm of personal or communal experience, applying it to little power in the
face of big difficulty.59 Examples will include large financial burdens with little
income, significant health problems and little optimism from doctors,
overwhelming responsibilities and depleting energy, etc.
 Closing Sentence: We’ve all been there, when the problems seem so prominent
and the solutions non-existent.
Move 2
 Opening Sentence: As exiles in a foreign land, the people of Israel seemed
insignificant in comparison to the power of Babylon.
 Description of the move: This move will quickly introduce essential background
information for understanding the text.60 In doing so it will create the opportunity
for connection between the experience of the Israelites with hostile forces and the
experience of contemporary Christians with overwhelming difficulty or
opposition.61 Particular emphasis will be placed on the New Years akitu festival
59
The same sort of special imagery will be used in describing the difficulties, thus carrying
forward the big/small comparison
60
This background information includes the post-exilic character of Deutero-Isaiah, the nature of
the exile an the destruction of Judah, and the connection of gods to the power of the empire,
61
The intent is not to overdrawing the connection but simply to connect the idea of opposition.
While the experience of exiled Israel is thankfully foreign to the experience of most Christians, both groups
are familiar with experiences in which elements beyond them appear to be in control and the lack of
evident solution leaves the difficulty looming even larger.
Pittman 23

in which the power of the Babylonians gods and therefore the empire were
celebrated in prominent ways.62
Closing Sentence: For the conquered Israelites, whose God seemed as far away as
the homeland they longed for, the gods of Babylon exalted as superior appear in
control.
Move 3:
 Opening Sentence: The prophet suggests instead that idols are insignificant in
comparison to the power of God.63
 Description of the move: This move will describe how the prophet utilizes the
prominent akitu festival and the cultic activities therein to assert the supremacy of
God.64 The text will be read at this point, with careful attention drawn to the
descriptions of first idols and then God.65 In every way, God is superior to idols
and his superiority is even asserted at times in which the idols seem most
dominant.
 Closing Sentence: Even when all evidence appears to the contrary, the power of
God makes a mockery of the showy pretense of the idols.
Move 4:
 Opening Sentence: And because God is superior his people can trust that he can
and will accomplish his purposes.
 Description of the move: This move will focus on God’s ability to accomplish his
purposes and the faith demanded as a result.66 It will, like the pericope describe
the uniqueness of God and the uniqueness of his ability in the situations that face
us. The examples used in move 1 of overwhelming situations will be addressed
again with possible solutions that God is able to bring.
 Closing Sentence: Our faith is in a God beyond comparison who can accomplish
his purposes beyond what we are able to accomplish or foresee.
Sermon 4
Title: Storing Up by Giving Away
62
Though background information, a description of this festival is necessary to convey the
subversive import of the imagery of the pericope.
63
The parallel construction of the first sentences of moves 2 and 3 mirrors the direct comparison
by means of identical language that is seen in the passage in the contrast between the idols who are carried
and God who carries his people.
64
Statues of the gods Bel and Nebo were carried along on chariots during the procession of the
akitu festival. The prophet takes the carrying of the idols in the parade and employs that image to convey
their impotence thereby giving new meaning to this important cultic celebration.
65
The idols are carried, cannot rescue themselves, and cannot answer. God rescues his people and
continues to carry them in their “old age” as he did at their birth.
66
As moves one and two introduced the church to the experience under discussion and set the
historical stage, moves three and four follow the flow of the text and the division into two sections, verses
1-7 and the comparison of God and idols in move 3 and verses 8-13 and the command to faith in God’s
purposes in move 4.
Pittman 24
Text: Luke 12:22-34
Focus Statement:
Christ desires for his disciples to demonstrate where their treasure is by ceasing
unnecessary worry and instead “storing up” eternal treasure by “giving away” treasure on
earth.
Function Statement:
To urge all members of the congregation by virtue of their faith in the God who provides
to demonstrate where their treasure is by viewing possessions as a means to serve others
rather than to preserve themselves
Pericope Rational:
The community is composed of people at different economic, educational, cultural, and
social positions. In addition, there seems to be some division between members of the
congregation in different social classes.67 This passage notes the inward focus often
created by focus on “storing up” possessions and as a result instructs Christ’s disciples to
“store up” in heaven by “giving away” on earth. As both the description and the
theological analysis of the case suggest, a congregational focus on other oriented ethics
and attitudes could be beneficial. This passage suggests that the proper attitude toward
individual possessions directs the focus to how those possessions can be used for the
good of others, thus giving it communal and relational consequences.
Sermon Plot Line:
We hold most tightly to our possessions when we are afraid of being without them.
Thankfully, God’s provision allows us stop our worry and fear. God frees his people to
store up treasure in heaven by giving earthly treasure to benefit others.
Move 1
 Opening Sentence: We hold most tightly to our possessions when we are afraid of
being without them.
 Description of the move: Noting the subsistence farming lifestyle the original
audience, this move will first acknowledge the very real stresses that financial
need brings.68 From there it will move toward specific examples of stresses in the
current context, pulling on both news items and individual stories. The dominant
motif of the move will be fear and worry, which will be repeated in a refrain at the
end of each example.69
67
Bruce noted in the case that the committees were comprised mostly of middle class individuals
who ran most of the ministries of the church due the greater amount of time available to them for volunteer
ministry.
68
The social and economic context of the original audience highlights the difficulty of these
commands; in a world of subsistence farming, the search for the provisions necessary for life consumes
people’s occupations; reading the commands from the perspective of those on the lower end of the
economic scale rather than the middle class is necessary for grasping the difficulty in Christ’s words.
Green, The Gospel of Luke, 492.
69
The command of verse 32, “Do not be afraid, little flock,” informs the motif as it seems
specifically name the underlying issue. For a congregation of mixed economic levels in the midst of a
Pittman 25

Closing Sentence: Our fear of what could happen if what we have is taken away
or turns out in the end to not be enough, leaves us frantically focused on gaining
and keeping what we need.
Move 2:
 Opening Sentence: Thankfully, God’s provision allows us stop our worry and
fear.
 Description of the move: After very briefly setting the narrative context, this
move will shift the focus from the difficulties in experience to the promise in the
text.70 Next, after nothing the use of visible examples as proof by Christ, current
such examples of God’s provision will be provided to further draw the argument
into the present.71 These examples can include examples from creation but may
also include stories from individuals.
 Closing Sentence: Because our heavenly Father both knows what we need and
provides those things, we can cease worrying and trust.
Move 3:
 Opening Sentence: God frees his people to store up treasure in heaven by
releasing possessions to benefit others.72
 Description of the move: In order to effectively draw out and apply the counterintuitive Lukan emphasis, move three will invite the congregation to apply the
principle personally, asking the question “where do our budgets say our treasure
is?” The move will carry the financial imagery forward with the suggestion of
new kingdom financial principles, concluding with the assertion that the way we
use our money is a kingdom issue just as God’s provision is a kingdom blessing.
 Closing Sentence: Freed from worry about their own provision, all of God’s
people can demonstrate where their treasure is by using what God has given them
for others.
Sermon 5
Title: The Model of the Mindset
Text: Philippians 2:1-11
Focus Statement:
Christ models the selfless servant mindset that should characterize all members of His
church
financial crisis in which no group entirely escapes the effects, fear will also be an easily recognizable
experience.
70
Throughout the discussion of the passage connections between the parable and the instructions
will be noted, in order to help solidify the contrast. For a list of the parallel vocabulary, see summary of
exegesis.
71
The commands to stop worrying serve as inclusios in verses 22 and 29, bracketing the examples.
The beginning and ending of the move likewise serve as inclusios for the examples that dominate the move.
72
The choice of “releasing” is intentional, standing opposite of the “hold on to” of Move 1. The
antonyms support the Lukan shift in the text.
Pittman 26
Function Statement:
To inspire the church to deeper mutual love and service by elevating Christ as the
premier model of the selfless servant mindset.
Pericope Rational:
As the text speaks so powerfully to the self-emptying servant nature of Christ, it
contributes in a prominent way to the description of the ethic proposed in the theological
analysis of the case. The examples of service of this nature already occurring in the
church celebrated in the sermon provide an opportunity to both reinforce that type of
service and prompt future expressions of that mindset.
Sermon Plot Line:
As members of Christ’s body we can see that the life of faith involves great blessing.
Paul reminds us through poetry of the nature of the Lord in whom our faith rests. It is his
self-emptying ways that we are called to imitate. ,
Move 1:
 Opening Sentence: As members of Christ’s body, we can see that the life of faith
involves great blessings.
 Description of the move: The move names particular blessings found in the
experience of the community. Examples will include experience of new family,
support in times of grief and illness, insight from the wisdom of experience in
marriage and family relationships, safe friendships in which to share needs and
struggles, encouragement in faith from fellow believers, etc.73 The move will
then transition to the blessings found in verse 1 of the text.74
 Closing Sentence: In the Philippian church as in our own, the blessings of faith
lived out together are evident and rich.
Move 2:
 Opening Sentence: Paul reminds us through poetry of the nature of Christ in
whom our faith rests.
 Description of the move: This move will dwell in the poetry and language of the
text, asserting that Paul uses poetry and hymn because prose won’t suffice.75 To
facilitate the discussion of the language other familiar poetry and hymns will be
73
For Bruce, examples should include if possible particular ministries serving the physical and
spiritual needs of the community and/or specific blessings he has heard mentioned by church members.
74
The blessings in the text include “encouragement in Christ,” “fellowship with the Spirit,”
“comfort of love,” “tenderness and compassion.” The conditional statement serves rhetorical purposes in
setting up the requests made by Paul in verse 2. They are, in fact, experienced realities, and will be stated
as such in the move. Fee, Letter to the Philippians, 177. Hawthorne, Philippians, 22.
75
Due to the number of available translations of difficult words in the passage, including but not
limited to morfh, fronew, and aJrpagmoV, it is essential that attention be given to these issues. An
emphasis on the richness of the poetry provides an appropriate opportunity for discussing the equal richness
of the language in a way that is more natural that a vocabulary lesson.
Pittman 27

used as examples. The emphasis will be on the simplicity and beauty inherent in
poetry and abundantly clear in the self-emptying of Christ.76
Closing Sentence: The breathtaking truth is that Jesus Christ, though holding all
the benefits due him as God, chose to empty himself of them all in order to serve.
Move 3:
 Opening Sentence: It is his self-emptying, cross-destined ways that we are called
to imitate.
 Description of the move: As the instructions given by Paul to the community in
verses 2-4 are substantiated by the example of Christ, exposition of them
dominates the final move. A redefinition of “humility” will be important for
connecting the sacrifice of Christ to the call for the church.77 The central motif of
the move with me that of the self-less servant. Inspiring and beautiful
concretizations observed within the church will be proclaimed anonymously in
order to inspire specific types of sacrificial service.78
 Closing Sentence: By sacrificing self in service we begin to adopt the mindset of
Christ that leads us into ever-deeper love and commitment to the good of one
another.
76
Discussion of the exaltation of Christ in verses 9-11 is intentionally delayed until move three.
Doing so allows for further exposition on the sacrifices of imitating Christ’s behavior to set the stage for
the concluding assertion that just as the cross is not the end of the story for Christ the sacrifice is not the
end of the story.
77
“Humility was considered a vice in Greco-Roman culture, a behavior only appropriate for lower
class individuals and those in subservient positions. It is therefore a counter-cultural stance and one of
sacrifice that is easily lost in the modern connotations of humility. Thurston, Philippians and Philemon, 74.
Fee, Letter to the Philippians, 185.
78
The concretizations of sacrificial service here are an attempt to balance the examples of
blessings in move 1. Where possible, the blessings of move 1 will be presented here as someone’s act of
service. For instance, support received in times of illness could be presented here as someone’s selfless
contribution of time in preparing a meal and being present with the family. In drawing these types of
parallels the goal would be to assist the congregation in owning the mutuality and “looking to the interests
of others” intended by the passage by presenting cases in which that is already experienced. The
concretizations also serve as an opportunity for celebrating the diversity of contributions in the
congregation and to celebrate the Christlike behavior of the members already taking place.
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