In the midst of a broken world, we reflect God to the degree that love is experienced through the presence, words and actions of his people. ‘Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love’ (1 John 4:8). Community is the laboratory whereby we work and learn to grow into the God-imaging creatures we were destined to become. In essence, the spiritual formation of a community is expressed through loving relational bonds.
These loving relational bonds that validate our Christian witness are not easy to form or preserve. However because they are foundational to our purpose as communities of faith, relational work is a part of the redemptive work each person is called to. This dissertation asserts, ‘I am studying relational work so that Christian leaders may both understand and practice how people may be equipped for attachment and bonding as part of community spiritual formation.’
Transformational leaders are catalysts that enable a community to mature and ‘build itself up in love, as each part does its work’ (Eph. 4: 16). In order for leaders to better understand relational work, I explain several key concepts that are instrumental for leaders to apply in terms of relational work in a community. These are:
1. An understanding of attachment from the perspective of social science researchers
2. An understanding of how systems thinking relates to congregational life
3. An assertion that a theology of work, with an emphasis on relational work, is a framework for community formation
4. A call to embrace the trinity as the source and paradigm from which all relational work stems
While study and teaching is necessary, in themselves they will not facilitate change. Therefore I conclude with six practical results that stem from my study, research, ministry experience, and prayer. These six results are offered as an application of the study of relational work toward community spiritual formation for the transformational leader.