HEALING AND TRANSFORMATION IN A COMMUNITY OF LAITY 

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INTRODUCTION

In my current position as the Coordinator for the training of Lay Ministries in the Methodist Church of Southern Africa (MCSA) I realised the significant role that laypeople play in the lives of people and perform an outstanding ministry. In my role of training laypeople I have observed that laypeople have the skills and the capacity to take care of one another. The laity are people who serve in a non-ordained position in the church, but who can also render a service like an ordained priest or minister. The reason that I have ventured into this research is that the stories of the people who did the research with me speak about managing a church in the absence of a fulltime pastor. The stories relate the journey of people who travel together from a perspective of love, care, support, healing and transformation.
Although I am an ordained minister in the MCSA (Methodist Church of Southern Africa) during my time of being a fulltime minister in a congregation I really observed and experienced a deep level of a growing maturity in the skilfulness and spirituality of lay people. I remember where I came from as an ordinary layperson in the MCSA. In reflecting on my past I could still see myself involved in the ministry of pastoral care, healing and transformation, but doing it under the leadership of a fulltime ordained minister, to whom I had to give feedback on all important matters.
In my own capacity as a fulltime minister in a congregation I experienced the responsibility for and initiating of a ministry as something only done by the minister. There were only a few lay leaders who had the courage to implement certain important ministries, but still with my consent and under my authority. In the beginning my coresearchers saw this research as only writing down of the history of this congregation.
They were thrilled and enthusiastic to see this congregation materialising but only realised later the importance of their ministry and how they performed it. The people who ventured with me in this research are people whom I have met in the South African National Defence Force (SANDF) while I was still a chaplain and a part time minister at one of the Methodist Churches in Thaba Tshwane. Most of these people are still in the military environment but others are in the Public Service and other departments of the government. In this research they are known as co- researchers because in narrative research one does not use the term clients or counselees but rather co-researchers. According to Gergen in Demasure and Müller (2007:7) in the process of social construction one should guard against seeing one person as the opponent and not as somebody that is participating in the construction of meaning. I would like to regard my co-researchers as people who are participating in this process of research from the perspective that they can give meaningful inputs.
In narrative research we look at a participatory action research that will first and foremost be to the advantage of the participants (Kotzé and Kotzé 2001:9). Participatory action research does not look at the co-researchers as objects but as participants who are actively involved in the process of research and the researcher as the participant observer. My understanding of this statement made by Kotzé and Kotzé is that in research all participants have the right to be heard in the construction of new knowledge. All the information that is gathered in this research is taken from the stories of my co-researchers and in doing this both the researcher and coresearchers learnt in the process of doing research. In comparison with the term participants or co-researchers, there is also the term “client” (also used as patient) and commonly used in the medical field of therapy. It assumes (though it is by no means still completely operative) that the “doctor” is the one who “does something” and the “patient” is the one who passively has “something done” to him or her. The term client however, assumes a similarity between the professional and the person seeking assistance. This term is used in the social work community and acknowledges the partnership of the client in the process (McDonald 2008: September). Their inputs and stories are the most valuable in this research as they guided the process of research.

CHAPTER ONE  POSITIONING 
1.1 INTRODUCTION
1.2 The research as a journey
1.2.1 General background of “Journey to a New land”
1.2.2 The Six Calls Model
1.2.3 Background of the Trinity Family Church
2. OVERAL AIM AND OBJECTIVES
3. EPISTEMOLOGY, POSITIONING AND METHODOLOGY
3.1 A postmodern epistemological point of departure
3.2 Postfoundationalism
3.3 Practical Theology
3.4 Narrative Theology
3.5 The importance of language and meaning
3.6 Social Constructionism
4. THE RESEARCH PROCEDURE.
4.1 Description of a specific context
4.2 The In-context experiences
4.3 The collaborative interpretation and description of experience
4.4 Description of experience and traditions of interpretations.
4.5 Religious and spiritual aspects: God’s presence
4.6 A description of experience, thickened through interdisciplinary investigation.
4.7 The development of alternative interpretations, that point beyond beyond the local community
5. MY OWN JOUNEY AS PART OF JOURNEY TO A NEW LAND REFLECTION
SUMMARY
CHAPTER TWO  NARRATIVES IN A COMMUNITY OF LAITY 
2.1 INTRODUTION
2.2 The Epistemology of “Untying the knot”
2.3 The Truth leads to Praxis
2.3.1 The action as praxis
2.3.2 The “now” is the crucial moment
2.4 Co-Travellers on a Social Constructionist Journey
2.4.1 Reconstruction
2.4.2 Story telling as Co-Construction
2.5 The journey with a New Story
2.5.1 The open door for the start of a new church
2.6 The Story of the new face of God
2.7 Experiencing a new beginning with a new story
2.7.1 This story identifies with the oral story-telling tradition
2.7.2 This story sensitised my co-researchers
2.8 Telling your story making your contribution
2.9 The metaphor of the “eye”
2.9.1 The Conversation between Priscilla and the researcher
2.9.2 “I would like to be the eye of this congregation”
2.9.3 The use of the metaphor in the story
2.9.4 The dream of care
2.10 Externalising Conversations
2.11 The fear of non-existence
2.11.1 The language of fear
2.12 Look around you and see what is happening
2.13 The Visionaries
2.14 The story of co-exploration
2.15 The risk to take a step in faith
2.16 God’s church as the family of God
2.17 When the ears of people were deaf, God heard our cry
2.17.1 The story of the chronic asthma attacks
2.17.2 Listening to God Creates Room for introspection ad research
2.18 The Church creates room for therapy and testimony
2.19 The youth should make a “reality check”
2.20 The story of spiritual upliftment and a new chapter in spiritualty
2.20.1 The story of Craig
2.21 Interviews as conversations
2.22 Discussion of the storie
2.1 Moving towards thick descriptions
2.23 The story of love, care and support
REFLECTION
SUMMARY
CHAPTER THREE  PASTORAL CARE IN A COMMUNITY OF LAITY 
3.1 INTRODUCTION
3.2 Theology as a practical action
3.3 The stories are the foundation of pastoral care
3.3.1 Pastoral care as a journey
3.3.2 Pastoral care from a social constructionist perspective
3.3.3 Pastoral care as a group activity
3.4 The church as the family that communicates a family ministry.
3.5 The “self” in relation to others
3.5.1 Self as a consciousness or awareness
3.5.2 Care comes from the relational self
3.5.3 The church in relation to the self and others
3.5.4 Deconstructing the Self-Narrative
3.6 Togetherness is a challenge to reconstruct
3.6.1 Togetherness speaks about the presence of God
3.6.2 Recognition of God’s presence does not always assure the
smooth running of things.
3.7 Our faith motivated us never to look back
3.8 The caring community
3.9 Developing the new story of “Care Giving”
CHAPTER FOUR  HEALING AND TRANSFORMATION IN A COMMUNITY OF LAITY 
4.1 INTRODUCTION
4.2 Understanding of the biblical text
4.2.1 The Hermeneutical Paradigm
4.2.2 The text and reader comes together
4.3 A deepened spirituality in relation to the bible
4.3.1 My co-researcher’s interpretation of spirituality
4.4 Transformed lives through spiritual formation
4.5 There are no Quick fixes
4.6 Conversations initiated through Prayer
4.7 The imperative of spirituality as a God given opportunity of care
4.8 Wisdom speaks from a deepened spirituality
4.8.1 The three components of wisdom
4.9 The effectiveness of a healthy community
4.10 Professional identity in leadership and relationship
4.11 Diversity and conformity plays a role in healing
4.12 Accepting group Recognition
4.13 Acceptance sets you free to take a Risk.
4.14 The Voices of solidarity
4.15 Listening as a Component of Healing
4.16 Conversation as part of God’s Healing plan
4.17 Healing and Personal Accountability
4.18 Compassionate Ministry as an Enlightening Ministry
4.19 The New Story of ‘Care Giving’
REFLECTION 2
SUMMARY
CHAPTER FIVE  THE THEORY OF CARE AND SUPPORT IN RELATION  TO THE NARRATIVE APPROACH 
CHAPTER SIX  REFLECTION ON THE RESEARCH 
BIBLIOGRAPHY

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