INTRODUCTION (En español)
Summer 2011 marks the launch of a new MCC Theologies Team project designed to gather information both from our churches and as many individuals as possible affiliated with MCC.
The Descriptive Theologies subcommittee of the MCC Theologies Team seeks to identify and map the variety of theological practices and beliefs within MCC. This work serves three primary purposes:
1) To provide an accurate picture of practices “on the ground” in our churches around the world;
2) To facilitate our understanding of who we are as a denomination; and,
3) To help us identify areas where the MCC Theologies Team may assist our churches.
Anyone visiting a number of MCC churches knows something of the incredible diversity found in our practices. We sing hymns and praise songs, choruses and chants. Some of us baptize by immersion and some sprinkle at the baptismal font. Some of us use written liturgies and some are extemporaneous. Some are very active in issues of social justice and some are ecologically conscious. Some regularly practice gifts of the Holy Spirit and some feel called to a ministry of community service or intercessory prayer. Even within a single congregation our people express a wide range of theological beliefs and commitments.
Until now we’ve never undertaken the monumental task of systematically surveying all of our practices and beliefs. But we believe that what we might find is worth the effort…
We will release two surveys per quarter:
- One survey for a single response from each congregation, and
- One survey for a response from every individual associated with MCC.
We’ve chosen to start with the practice of Baptism, but will be moving through a range of topics like:
- MCC’s Sacraments and Rites (Holy Communion, Ordination, Membership, Holy Union/Holy Matrimony, Funerals, Laying on of Hands, and Blessings)
- Theological topics (the Holy Spirit, Trinity, Atonement, etc.)
- Spiritual practices (prayer, meditation, Bible study, fasting, etc.), and
- Involvement in ecumenical or inter-religious activities.
Questionnaires will be made available on the MCC website and an electronic newsletter will announce new topics as they become available for your responses.
Q. What kind of personally identifiable information will you collect?
- For church surveys we will ask for the name of the church, an email address, and a short description of the membership in terms of numbers, significant trends in gender, nationality/citizenship, age, and any specialized religious education.
- For individuals we will ask for an email address, denominational background, congregational role (pastor, board member, lay delegate, staff clergyperson, other member, or friend of the church), education, etc.
Q. Who will have access to the data?
Results from the surveys will be made available publicly in aggregate form. We will not release any email addresses or personally identifiable information to the public.
Q. Who can fill out the questionnaires?
Absolutely anyone associated with MCC, including clergy, members and friends.
Q. Who will fill out the congregational questionnaires?
Ideally, a senior pastor or other staff member of the church with a reasonably long affiliation with the congregation will fill out the congregational questionnaires. In cases where a pastor is new, we encourage cooperation with individuals affiliated with the congregation long enough to have a thorough understanding of local practices.
Q. Can I participate in the surveys without a computer?
If you do not have regular access to a computer with an Internet connection, please contact us to arrange another method for completing the questionnaires.
Q. What if my answers don’t match my pastor’s? My neighbor’s? Yours?
For the purposes of our surveys there are no “right” or “wrong” answers. We are attempting to get a better picture of the diversity in our churches as well as any interesting trends. The best way to do this is to gather as much honest information as we can.
We are aware of the discomfort that can be aroused as we ask questions that probe areas of ambiguity or diversity in our beliefs. But our goal is to frame our questions and the presentation of what we find in a respectful manner.
Q. Who is on the Descriptive Theologies subcommittee?
Three members of the MCC Theologies Team currently serve on the Descriptive Theologies subcommittee: Kharma Amos, Jim Burns, and Bryce Rich. Their biographies, along with the other members of the MCC Theologies Team can be found at: http://mccchurch.org/ministries/mcc-theologies-team/our-team/.
Q. I don’t see my question. How do I get it answered?
Please contact us at theologies@MCCchurch.net and we’ll respond. If your question seems like something others are also asking, we’ll add it to this list.