Ministry in Cultural Context

Course Description: This course will work to develop a coherent ministry vision based on unchanging theology and changing cultural contexts. Based on Reformed theological orthodoxy, students will learn how theology has implications on how to see ministry and what to do in ministry by participating in ethnographic studies of different location and peoples. It will provide a foundation for how students can articulate, communicate, and live out doctrine in a specific place and time—whether an urban neighborhood, a rural farming community, a cross-cultural location, or working with youth.

Course Schedule

1.10Why Take This Class? 
1.12Getting to Know One Another 
1.15OFF: MLK 
1.17Syllabus and OrientationKeller, Intro and Ch. 1
1.19Gospel DoctrineKeller, Ch.2-3
1.22Gospel RenewalKeller, Ch.4-5
Book Selection for Project
1.24Gospel RenewalKeller, Ch. 6  
1.26Gestures and PosturesAndy Crouch, Culture Care (PDF)  
1.29ContextualizationKeller, Ch. 7-8
1.31ContextualizationKeller, Ch. 9-10
Due: Interview Questions
2.2City VisionKeller, Ch. 11-12
2.5City VisionKeller, Ch. 13-14
2.7Cultural EngagementKeller, Ch. 15
2.9OFF: Honors DayKeller, Ch. 16
2.12Cultural EngagementKeller, Ch. 17
2.14Cultural EngagementKeller, Ch. 18
2.16OFF: JubileePrayer Walk Reflection Due
2.19Missional CommunityKeller, Ch. 20-21
2.21Integrative MinistryKeller, Ch. 22-23
2.23Integrative MinistryKeller, Ch. 24-25
2.26Integrative MinistryKeller, Ch. 26
2.28Missional MovementsKeller, Ch. 27-28
3.1Missional MovementsKeller, Ch. 29-30
3.4Church as CultureRobert Wilken
Volf, Soft Difference
3.6Church and Politics  Schiess, Liturgy of Politics
3.8OFF: Conference 
3.18Interpreting Your World: MeaningBailey, Intro, Ch.1
3.20Interpreting Your World: PowerBailey, Ch. 2
3.22Interpreting Your World: EthicsBailey, Ch. 3
3.25Interpreting Your World: ReligionBailey, Ch. 4
3.27Interpreting Your World: AestheticsBailey, Ch. 5, Conclusion
3.29OFF: Good Friday 
4.1OFF: Easter Monday 
4.3Culture of NarcissismNoble, Disruptive Witness
4.5Future of the ChurchRussell Moore Lecture.
4.8Church in Modern WorldPope John Paul,  Gaudium et Spes
4.10Book Presentations 
4.12Book Presentations 
4.15Book Presentations 
4.17Prepare for Final Project 
4.19Final Project Presentation 
4.22Final Project Presentation 
4.24Final Project Presentation 
4.26Final Project Presentation 
4.29Final Project Presentation 
5.1Final Project Presentation 
5.3Celebration and Review 


Academic Journal (40%)

Every time you come to class when there is an assignment due, you are required to actively take notes while reading. These notes will be collected in an academic journal. It should be well organized with a section for every assigned reading. You could take brief notes, ask questions to use in class, but it should be evident that you actually read or watched the assignment.

Ministry in Cultural Context Project (60%)

The main grade in this class will be a cumulative project where you do field research into a certain cultural location. Ideally, this should be some place you want to work in the future. Options include: Youth, Urban, City, Suburban, Rural, Muslim, Non-profit work.

Develop interview questions (5%)

Following the reading of Neighborhood Mapping, you will take your knowledge, as well as the appendices, to develop a series of interview questions that you will use to conduct on field studies at your cultural location. Interview questions should be a list of 20 questions. You may not use all of them, but it will give you a start and guide in conversation.

Sample interview:

  • What’s this community like?
  • What do they value most?
  • Why do most people move here?
  • Why do most people move away?
  • What are the chronic needs or pains of this place?
  • Do you go to church?
  • Why or why not? Would you ever go?
  • What do you look for most in a church?
  • What is Christianity?
  • For those who go to church, Why do you think they do?
  • What’s the last major conflict or hardship this community faced?
  • What are the most well-known or popular churches? Why?
  • What ministry is already happening?

Prayer walk and journal (5%)

You will be required to do a prayer walk at a cultural location and then journal about your experience. (Things you prayed for, ways God spoke, intuitions you had, people you met, etc).

Conduct 10 interviews (10%)

You’ll use the interview questions you developed to conduct several interviews on sight. One must be a church leader who is doing ministry in your cultural location, and one must be a civic leader (city government, law enforcement, etc). You’ll use this information to develop a data set on which to use for your final project presentation.

Also required is a survey or census of the community you’re developing a ministry strategy for. (I.e. Who lives there?: demographic, income levels, chronic needs, percent of children, etc. etc.)

Ministry in Context Book Review Presentation (30%)

Based on your cultural location and interest, you will be assigned a book to review and then present what you learned to the class. The presentation should have three clear parts: summary of what is in the book, a top 5-10 quotes that sum up the main premises in the book, and evaluation of the material, and how you will apply the knowledge gained. The length of the presentation is 17-20 minutes.


  • Youth: iGen, Amusing Ourselves to Death
  • City: Faithful Presence
  • Suburban: The Good Life, Death by Suburb
  • Rural: The Unsettling of America, A big gospel in small places 
  • Muslim: Seeking Allah, Finding Jesus
  • Urban: Divided by Faith, Woke Church
  • Non-Profit: When Helping Hurts, Generous Justice

Final Project Presentation  (50%)

Based on all of your research, you will present your theological convictions, an understanding of the culture and place you’re seeking to invest in, and a theological vision for ministry. In this presentation, you will draw on all the evidence and data you’ve collected to create a plan of ministry for this community. You will have 20 minutes to present your findings, evaluation, and application.