I have been involved with British church and para-church ministries for nearly two decades. My focus has primarily (but not exclusively) been on discipling students and young adults. However, observing their faith journeys over a number of years I began to reflect on the effects my actions were actually having. How genuinely helpful was all the mentoring, preaching and training I was doing?
Those questions extended to the wider British evangelical church. What are the results of the energy many of us expend in the hopes of seeing individuals come to, and grow in faith in Jesus?
I was fortunate enough to have an opportunity to research some of them at Durham University. First an MA exploring the importance of role models (including biblical role models) on young women’s faith. Subsequently a PhD looking at how young adults read the Bible. I’m currently doing post-doctoral work on faith resilience among 20-somethings.
Like many of us I have still have plenty of questions.
I listen to people’s stories, ideas and conversations, analysing them to identify patterns and endeavouring to make sense of what they show.
Most of my work is qualitative; I listen to people’s stories, ideas and conversations, analysing them to identify patterns and endeavouring to make sense of what they show. Quantitative work provides useful big picture data – statistics which answer the “what?” questions, but I’m particularly interested in the “why?” ones.
Some of my findings have been published as academic works, but I want them to be easily accessible to those involved in ministry. Life is short and we are busy people so, rather than another Christian book these posts will contain some of the core findings which I hope might prove useful to the wider church.
The aim of these short monthly posts is to provide rigorously researched data (rather than anecdote). My hope is that they will stimulate reflection on practise and inspire generous conversation among those interested in discipleship about how we can genuinely help, support and exhort those who follow Jesus to grow and flourish in that.