This is a report on doctoral research recently published by VDM verlager on a narrative means of research into church communities that have moved from positions of strength through significant decline cycle and beyond into a new period of significant culture change and growth. The nature of the whole decline-renewal cycle is thereby rendered accessible for analysis via an interplay of systems, cultural and organizational psychological lenses. The impact of the actions of leadership through decline are best conceived through the perspective of neurotic regressive group fantasy. The actions and impact of leadership during the renewal cycle are largely accounted for in terms of Object Relations theory. A complicating factor in these communities is the particular nature of their faith tradition. It can be demonstrated in narrative form that community leaders espouse and reinforce a selective theological set of images that both justify and reinforce preferred neurotic cultures that exacerbate decline and deskill willing agents of change. Conversely, a more authentic set of God images are associated with the real work that needs to be done in the renewal cycle and are reflected in the beliefs,values and surprising actions of members that is out of character with their stagnated past culture. This renewal period always affects the nature of the particular culture in the direction of a more outward and porous community boundary between the immediate culture of the particular church. Four important lessons for would-be change agents or change leaders are derived by way of conclusion.
|Keywords:||Community Decline And Renewal, Organizational Culture, Organizational Psychodynmaics, Fantasies And Dysfunctions, Helpful God Images, Object Relations Theory|
Dean Postgraduate Studies, Postgraduate Research Department, Bible College of Victoria (Australian College of Theology), Melbourne, Victoria, Australia
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