The Future Church
This summer, Baylor’s George W. Truett Theological Seminary announced the formation of “The Program for the Future Church,” an initiative under the direction of Angela Gorrell, Ph.D., assistant professor of practical theology, and Dustin Benac, Th.D., visiting assistant professor of practical theology and Louisville Institute postdoctoral fellow.
The Program for the Future Church will provide a hub for collaborative development at the intersection of practical theology with engagement among scholars from a wide variety of disciplines — including religion, sociology, social work, psychology, entrepreneurship and the arts — tasked with examining and constructively engaging the challenges that confront people of faith, those who lead them and those who educate ministry leaders. Through contextually centered research, the program’s efforts will focus on four pillars: leadership, youth and emerging adults, pedagogy and lived experience.
“This program will create opportunities for Truett students to practice responding to pressing challenges and learning from illuminations of church and community leaders as part of their seminary experience,” Gorrell said. “It will help Truett to highlight the stories of the incredible things God is doing within, through and beyond local churches and communities. It also will allow the stories, illuminations, questions and challenges of church and community leaders to contribute to the research agendas and course learning objectives of scholars associated with the program.”
Acting as a “visible bridge” between Truett and the church, the Program for the Future Church will create space and structure for existing efforts and initiatives at the seminary, working alongside programs like the Truett Church Network to strengthen and support what is already working well. The Program will also seek to create sustainable and consistent feedback systems to help in understanding the needs of the church and, importantly, the future church.
“Truett Seminary is uniquely equipped to provide research, resources and relational structures to support the leaders for the future church,” Benac said. “Amid the systemic changes that confront the church, Baylor’s commitment to be for the church and attentive to the local context where faith forms provide an ideal environment for the interdisciplinary inquiry that is required. While the challenges remain complex, the Program for the Future Church aims to bend our collective imagination toward hope for a new day.”