Research Design – Some Preliminary Questions

Today we spent 8:30-5 minus 1.5 hours for lunch talking about what research is, why it’s important, what our research will entail and why we are doing it.  It wasn’t a bad day, considering how long the day was I was able to stay pretty well engage.  We did a fair amount of group work and talked about what are the fundamental components of our projects, what the sub-disciplines we’ll need to be aware of in order to conduct our research and how our research relates specifically the field of missiology. 

This last question along with why it’s important to do this research at Fuller got me thinking more about my topic than I had previously, I hadn’t considered things in these terms.  The spiritual aspect of my research is of utmost importance, I believe that the Spirit of God wishes to heal and use older churches that are struggling for survival due various factors including massive cultural changes. 

It was also very interesting to hear about the other student’s projects and reminded me of one reason why I am grateful to have an opportunity to study with people who are and will become experts in their fields, it makes me feel less than adequate but excited nonetheless.

I thought I would post a couple initial ideas/questions here for the main purpose of giving a reference point of where I am starting and, the Lord only knows, where I will end up. These are all extremely tentative ideas and your input is always of use.

The main driving question behind my topic for now is:
What Role Does Culture Play in (transforming/creating/affecting) church traditions?

My main statement of purpose and goal (until tomorrow when it will most likely be changed),

“I want to study culture’s role in transforming church traditions and their practices in order to understand how older traditions, specifically the Society of Friends, have been affected by modernity, so that an updated theology of practices and structure can be formed to aid the church in engaging with culture without losing it’s peculiar identity.???

Other possible questions, most very similar just phrased in different ways trying to find the proper approach to the research:

*How is tradition to be understood within a postmodern context?
*What is authority in post-modernity?
*How can the bible remain instructive and formative in the lives of believers in post- modernity?
*How did modernity affect the way we understand authority and traditions? 
*And how has this shaped ecclesiology, mission, practice and theology?

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Wess

...is the William R. Rogers Director of Friends Center and Quaker Studies at Guilford College in Greensboro, NC., PhD in Intercultural Studies from Fuller Theological Seminary, served as a "released minister" at Camas Friends Church, and father of three. He enjoys sketchnoting, sharing conversation over coffee with a friend, listening to vinyl and writing creative nonfiction.

3 thoughts on “Research Design – Some Preliminary Questions”

  1. Isn’t it fun?

    Something that raises some flags for me is the generally broad nature of the terms and questions used. For instance, you write as if modernity and post-modernity are homogenous entities. So when you ask something like, “How have older traditions been affected by modernity?” I want to ask what you mean by modernity. Modernity can only be described with broad strokes. The same goes for post-modernity, if not even more so. Again, culture and church traditions in your driving questions are pretty broad terms. Which culture? American, Western, Third-world? You specify your interest in Friends. I am not familiar with that church tradition, but I would imagine that it would have been affected differently depending on which culture it was in. Anyway, I love the general direction. Look forward to following your progress.

  2. Thanks Chris, you are absolutely correct and thanks for the advice. I am in the process of narrowing a bit, and think I’m on to something a little more focused.

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