Reflection on the Ecclesiology of Your Institution's Worship

This quarter we will be exploring what Christians believe about and as the Church. The material so far has explored the connection between a community's worship and its faith. It is a connection we all take seriously insofar as we treat our church liturgies as mattering to God, to one another, and to those who have not heard or clearly understood the gospel. This assignment is for practice in stepping back and examining what our liturgies are saying about our self-understanding as the people of God in Jesus Christ.

One day, after worship (in the institution of your choice, including your own church or parachurch ministry), a youngish person you don't recognize approaches you and introduces himself (or herself, if you prefer). He is a graduate student in anthropology at UCSB, involved in an assignment to articulate the core convictions of some "community of faith" in the area. He has chosen yours, and wants your own explanation of how what you do together reflects and communicates what you believe: to God, to the community itself, and to outsiders.

As you consider this, you realize that your explanation could be useful not only for this student but for your own organization, and for your course in ecclesiology and eschatology. You promise to write out comments he can use, but warn him that he won't be the only audience. You'll also write it for your church to use, and for the professor and the fellow students in a course you're currently taking on the doctrine of the Church.

Write an honest analysis of what (a) God, (b) people in your own community, and (c) outsiders ought to infer about your community's 'doctrine of the Church' (and, secondarily, other major beliefs it holds) from your community's worship practices: from the way it arranges its worship space to its worship texts (hymns, confessions, prayers, 'messages', and so on) to the ways it treats various people. Your analysis should be explicitly informed by what you are learning from Wilson, lectures, and Wilson-Kastner and other texts.

I hope this diagnosis helps you appreciate and use what you learn for the rest of the quarter.

Please keep your paper 3-4 pages, double-spaced, and follow the directions in my handout for writing papers. Remember, I want to see proper style, clear writing, a thorough answer to the question, and explicit citations of course materials.

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