Integral Approaches to Christian Ministry

Integral Life Article, Cognitive, Journal of Integral Theory & Practice, Ministry, Perspectives, Spirituality 1 Comment

This article presents an Integral (AQAL) framework for Christian Ministry. Quadrants, levels, lines, states, and types are introduced and situated within the historical framework of Christianity. I address important aspects of social and institutional contexts—family structure, family of origin, socioeconomic situation, work environment, and geographic location—as they affect the individual parishioner, religious, or minister, as these factors can profoundly impact an individual’s experience of the Divine. I propose that increasing differentiation is not substantively different than the ancient practice of discernment and advocate the application of an AQAL map (“all-quadrants, all-levels, all-lines, all-states, and all-types”) to explore the minister’s circumstances as well as those who come to them for spiritual nourishment. The paper concludes with examples of several typical ministerial situations mapped onto quadrants.

JOHN FORMAN, OblSB, is a Benedictine oblate of Mt. Angel Abbey, a Eucharistic minister and healing minister in the Anglican Communion. He has served on church vestries and in monastic advisory positions, and also as a spiritual and organizational counselor to numerous religious organizations, as well as to individual ordained, professed, and lay men and women. He has led multiple retreats and workshops focused on Integral Theory and methodology, Benedictine spirituality, Christian meditation, developmental approaches to faith and ministry, and discernment.

John has published several articles on these topics and has presented papers at the New England Complex Systems Institute and the International Society of Systems Sciences, and has published articles in numerous publications. He has lectured on Integral Theory at a number of organizations, including the National Defense University, the University of Washington, the International Leadership Association, St. Martin’s College and the Diocese of Olympia’s School of Theology.

Notable Replies

  1. I found this article interesting.
    The Catholic Church now finds itself in a bind:

    • Deny communion to politicians or members who knowingly support any form of abortion, and watch their numbers dwindle faster. In the words of Pope Francis, as soon as a Pastor leaves a pastoral approach, he becomes a politician.
    • Or give communion regardless of political stance on abortion and “sin” because they believe to support abortion is to support “homicide” daily.

    What I find interesting is that this isn’t a “Literal Mythic” belief, but it is an absolutist and uncompromising belief. Does Catholicism allow ANY exceptions EVER? I don’t believe they do (but I could be wrong).
    It’s been well discussed already that Ken believes people with Literal Mythic Beliefs will have a really hard time being integral.
    I think what we are seeing here with the Catholic Church is that having and enforcing a dogmatic rule excluding people from participation is also counter to being “pastoral”. If being pastoral is more “integral” than being dogmatic, what we are seeing here is that spirituality that is too extreme in Orange can also make it difficult to be Integral.
    Hypocritically, they do allow “just wars” but there is no effort or discussion that I know to deny communion to politicians who support staying in / returning to Afghanistan without first “exhausting all other peaceful means”. In fact, I can’t think of very many military actions in my lifetime that the US has engaged in where “All peaceful means have been exhausted” prior to using deadly force.

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