THE ANTHROPOLOGICAL PASTOR: NAVIGATING THE CULTURE
OF AN ESTABLISHED CHURCH BY IMPLEMENTING
ANTHROPOLOGICAL TOOLS AND RESOURCES
Christopher Eric Turpin, Ph.D.
The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, 2016
Chair: Dr. George H. Martin
This dissertation explores anthropological tools and resources and their potential usefulness in navigating the culture of an established church. The application of the principles contained herein can be used for church revitalization, pastor transitions, and established church leadership. These principles can also be applied to business and organizational cultures.
Chapter 1 presents the research question that serves as the investigative guide for the dissertation. This dissertation argues that the pastor(s)/elders, and/or potential pastor(s)/elders, of established local churches, should know and implement many of the tools and resources of cultural anthropology within their ministry context in order to enhance understanding and communication between the pastor and his congregation, resulting in healthier pastor-congregation relations, healthier churches, and greater Kingdom effectiveness. Further, this chapter proposes an amalgamation of the research from the fields of anthropology/missiology, relevant organizational culture literature, and church leadership materials.
Chapter 2 serves as a survey of much of the relevant literature surrounding the study of anthropology/missiology, church leadership, and relevant organizational culture literature. This literature review traces an overview of the development of anthropological thought and the value of anthropological tools and resources. The review then demonstrates how anthropology is being discussed in church leadership materials, but without significant interaction with anthropological resources. Due to the scope of this research, the author narrows his interaction with church leadership material to materials that include sections that seem to recognize that each established churches exhibit culture.
Chapter 3 presents the author’s findings from anthropological research most relevant to the work of a local church pastor. Paul Hiebert’s book Anthropological Insights for Missionaries serves as a blueprint for the outline of the chapter. The chapter continues to look at available anthropological tools and resources, the ways they are understood and implemented by others, and potential applications toward established churches.
Chapter 4 examines church leadership literature resources that consider established churches to exhibit culture. Aubrey Malphurs’ book, Look before You Lead serves as a blueprint for the outline of the chapter. The primary objective of this chapter is to demonstrate the fact that church leadership authors interact very little with the writings, research, paradigms, and tools of anthropologists or missiologists.
Chapter 5 presents the author’s findings and conclusions. The focus is on developing the field of congregational cultural anthropology for the purpose of equipping pastors to understand and work through established church cultures. The author introduces a rapid assessment process (RAP) for understanding and navigating congregational culture. He concludes with an adaptation of Paul Hiebert’s method for engaging in critical contextualization, but for the purpose of transforming congregational culture. He also proposes the development of a field handbook for rapid assessment processes among established churches and an expansion of the field of congregational cultural anthropology.||en_US