This project grew out of experiencing churches in the Philippines that were replications of churches in the United States. Rather than being unique in this context the church was restricted by preexisting conceptions of what the church was to be. The lack of freedom was creating discontent, and a growing number of voices were calling for the church to contextualize. A few churches were attempting contextualization but at a surface level, such as Filipino instruments or dress being incorporated into the church, but the external dressings not changing the core of the church community. The questions ere then what is the essence of contextualization, and how can it be operationalized?
What barriers to its experience may be discovered as well?
The purpose of this study is to determine a working definition of contextualization and methods for operationalizing contextualization, and to identify barriers to contextualization in the Filipino context. Interviews of theologians and practitioners were used to determine the definition, methods of operationalizing, and barriers. The results of those interviews were used as criteria for evaluating contextualization of a church in the Filipino context.
This study is qualitative using Appreciative Inquiry, informal interview, and observation to determine definitions, conclusions, and recommendations. A single church was selected and studied for its contextualization perspectives and experiences. The results of that study found the church to be minimally contextualized when compared with the working definition.
From that beginning point, factors were identified that were possible barriers to the church experiencing contextualization, and recommendations were proposed to help the church toward the freedom to experience a unique expression of the Gospel in their
context, an expression that can be observed by the transformational experiences of the church and its surrounding community.