Professional Dissertations DMin
An Evangelism and Discipleship Pathway To Address the Cultural and Worldview Distance between the Preston Seventh-day Adventist Church and the White British Culture in Preston
Date of Award
Doctor of Ministry
Seventh-day Adventist Theological Seminary
Doctor of Ministry DMin
The UK Preston Seventh-day Adventist Church in the North England Conference is a predominantly Black church situated in a White British city. The Church has seen a numerical increase of almost 25% since 2013, but only one person from this growth was from the majority culture population, a group who tend not to be attracted to traditional Adventist forms of evangelism. The hypothesis for this project, therefore, is that when the cultural and worldview distance between church members and individuals in society is reduced, it is easier for the Christian witness to then explain the Kingdom of God. Also, there is minimal literature available, from an Adventist perspective, that addresses culture and worldview in the Western world, so literature from Adventist missiology aimed at difficult mission fields was referred to.
The project makes abductive inferences from participant interaction, on the basis that worldview modification is feasible. Since the cultural distance in question is at the societal level and on a small scale, the project has taken a qualitative approach. In doing so the project reports conceptualizations without generalizing inferences.
In the process of validating the hypothesis, it became evident that changing one's beliefs alone may result in a syncretistic mingling of beliefs, also referred to as dual allegiance, Christo-Paganism, or Christ-Culture dualism. This may be addressed by directing changes to the worldview level facilitated through friendship. An anthropological lens worldview model was proposed in this paper because standard models overlook individual differences. This project verified that modifications in worldview can be identified as changes in category-width (continuum from prejudice to approval), alteration of perspective, or embracing an otherwise contrasting understanding of the evidence sustaining one's old beliefs. It was also found that small worldview discovery groups can build community, provide a vehicle for worldview alteration, and facilitate cross-cultural contextualization of Scripture.
With public evangelism in the majority UK culture being a forlorn hope for over a century, short term public campaigns, or even prophecy seminars, which may bear fruit with some, are probably not the best solutions to evangelize the majority UK population. Also, anti-Christian secularists once a tiny, educated minority, has grown to the second largest people group in the UK in the twenty-first century. In light of this, and as it has been said "If less time were given to sermonizing, and more time were spent in personal ministry, greater results would be seen," and while positive outcomes were identified in this project, meaningful change may take several years to emerge. A contributing factor to the challenges of evangelism in the majority UK culture, to a large extent, is due to the cultural change differential between society and church being greater than the cultural change differential between ethnic groups in society. The differential between church and society can also be seen in the contrast between values that the church cherishes, and the indulgences the general UK society embraces. The church as a whole has generally maintained a modern mind-set since it started, therefore having parity with many nations, but some 60 plus years adrift from Western egalitarian cultures. Entropic effects in church, the presence of Adventist ethnocentrism, and incongruencies between leader core values and member desires may also hinder evangelism and mission. This may be addressed through urban ministries, or possibly by arranging social mingling, such as BBQs, community days at church, church socials, and other bridging events. It may therefore be appropriate to intentionally generate witnessing opportunities for members and pastors alike, utilizing Christ's Method and meeting the felt needs of those in the majority culture in the UK context. A low-key Gospel message, personal testimony, or personal interaction can take place at these times. In all our outreach efforts, we should recognize that we are participating in the Mission of God, not just in the mission of the Church. As such, we should find ways of making the Scriptures understandable to our target audience, whether they be culturally similar or dissimilar. In such circumstances, I have to agree with W. Kuhn and Happuch that mission may be a key to interpreting scriptures, because of communication across cultural divides. It is not safe, therefore, to assume that the British culture understands our message. This helps to explain why there is a need for a missional hermeneutic, the demand for which was captured in the following premises. 1. The cultural distance between church and society can have a disabling effect on our outreach to the majority UK culture. 2. Reducing cultural distance can facilitate access to another person’s worldview understandings. 3. Worldviews can be changed in preparation for a Christian witness. The Bible has a great deal to say about cultural inclusiveness, and worldview, even though the latter word does not appear on its pages. The Bible can therefore inform our outreach efforts in these areas. Cultural distance may not be a term many Adventists are aware of, but it can have a profound effect on our outreach. The Hofstede cultural dimensional model served to highlight some of the main hurdles to evangelism in the UK context. In the process of validating the hypothesis, it became evident that changing one's beliefs alone may result in a syncretistic mingling of faiths, also referred to as dual allegiance, Christo-Paganism, or Christ-Culture Dualism. It was also found that categories in existing worldview models are too broad in such circumstances, and an individual difference worldview model would probably be more appropriate. This may be attained via an anthropological lens worldview model proposed in this paper. This led to the development of a potentially self-contextualizing A.H.O.P.E. faith sharing model, which appears to cope with the societal stresses imposed by VUCA and egalitarian cultures. Friendship was found to be a key feature in reaching worldviews, and the implementation verified that modifications in worldview can be identified as changes in attitude (continuum from prejudice to approval), alteration of perspective, or embracing an otherwise contrasting understanding of the evidence sustaining one's old beliefs. Such changes were identified in a number of participants in this project. Since all three premises have been shown to be valid, they may be suitable for adaption to other forms of outreach. However, because only four specific cultures were involved in the implementation (Jamaican, Zimbabwean, and Malawian, reaching out to the majority UK culture), and only a small number of participants were involved, it is challenging to generalize the findings to other settings. For all this, we should never overlook the working of the Holy Spirit Who is able to overcome all human limitations.
Preston Seventh-day Adventist Church (Preston, United Kingdom); Evangelistic work; Discipling (Christianity); Christianity and culture--Great Britain; Caucasian race; White people--Great Britain
Couzins, Jeff Keith, "An Evangelism and Discipleship Pathway To Address the Cultural and Worldview Distance between the Preston Seventh-day Adventist Church and the White British Culture in Preston" (2021). Professional Dissertations DMin. 776.
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