Being surprised by God conference

The conference is to bring together different methodologies.

We hope for contributions that combine empirical and theological approaches/perspectives, but systematic and historical papers will be permissible. We also invite papers that explicitly look at bridging the disciplinary divide across the three areas.


  • From systematic theology/ecclesiology:
    • How do we interpret the local congregation in its empirical reality from a theological perspective?
    • What forms of ecclesiology and which methods facilitate an approach to 21st century ways of being church/congregations and ecclesial communities in this way?
  • From congregational studies/ethnography:
    • What do we seek to know about local congregations, what are the characteristics of local congregations as faith communities, in comparison with other groups?
    • What sort of developments/changes are going on?
    • What is the future of the local congregations as perceived by differing branches of congregational studies?
    • What is the relation between theology and empirical research?
  • From practical theology/congregational development:
    • How might we develop theologically appropriate and constructive models for congregational development?
    • How might this area be developed further as a scholarly field?

The three days are not driven by disciplinary groups (systematics, etc.) but rather by a few invited keynotes on themes and then various papers on the research projects people have to discuss. There will have to be ample time for conversation; informal discussions, networking and social interaction and we try to build in some cultural/historical/informal social activities that involve the main body of people in attendance.