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Salvation's Song: insights into Salvationist missiology from practices of communal singing at New Addington Salvation Army Community Church

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posted on 2023-08-30, 17:40 authored by Matthew Spencer
This thesis addresses two questions: What is the lived experience of singing for members of New Addington Salvation Army Community Church? What are the implications for Salvationist missiology and practice arising from analysis of that experience? As a Salvation Army officer leading both a church congregation and a community choir, I have a particular interest in these questions as they pertain to the role of singing in mission. The research methodology is qualitative, with participants creatively exploring their relationship to singing within The Salvation Army. Participants were purposively selected, encouraging the involvement of those least likely to put themselves forward. The thesis also considers extracts from my research journal, reflections on which provide insights into the themes explored and conclusions reached. Participant data is brought into critical dialogue with the conceptual framework, which draws upon the theoretical perspectives of missiology and ethnomusicology. Notable themes emerging from the participant data are ‘belonging’, ‘emotion’, ‘spirituality’ and ‘transformation’. Reflection upon the missiological literature resulted in the proposal of five missional ‘ways of being’ which are; the facilitation and nurture of community; the empowerment for and engagement in ministry; the integration of internal structures with external action; the authentic communication of the truth; the embodiment and enactment of Christian hope. These five ‘ways of being’ are considered in light of the participant data, and singing’s contribution to these aspects of mission is demonstrated. The research demonstrates that singing provides a ‘third-space’ for the facilitation and nurture of community; its impact on wellbeing empowers singers to participate in ministry; singing generates a virtuous circle of benefits which motivate, equip and enable singers for outward actions; singing can make biblical truths accessible, encourage new selfunderstanding, and embrace non-Christians within the embodied witness to the gospel; singing’s psychological and social benefits offer present comfort and glimpses of future hope. The research concludes that the more holistic one’s view of mission, the more blurred the boundaries between the church and the world, particularly concerning participation in the missio Dei. The thesis ends by considering the implications for my own practice and the wider implications for The Salvation Army arising from the research.



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