Red X iconGreen tick iconYellow tick icon


    A theologically rigorous and culturally informed understanding of re-forming Christian communal identity, bringing together perspectives of global theology, contemporary cultures and ecclesial study in a critical and constructive dialogue.

    This paper will demonstrate an interdisciplinary approach because issues related to church life and mission will draw on a number of disciplines in addition to Theology. The paper focuses on New Zealand, but will provide a global perspective because it will draw on discussions of similarities and differences in the issues faced in New Zealand and the rest of the world. It will also include issues of cultural understanding raised by New Zealand’s growing diversity of cultures and ethnicities. The paper will require critical thinking skills and the essay topics will enhance information literacy and research skills. The majority of the students in our Department are distance students and we anticipate that will be true of the students in this paper, and self-motivation is nurtured through distance study.

    About this paper

    Paper title Church in Mission: Theology in Changing Cultures (Advanced)
    Subject Ministry
    EFTS 0.1667
    Points 20 points
    Teaching period Not offered in 2024, expected to be offered in 2025 (Distance learning)
    Domestic Tuition Fees ( NZD ) $1,240.75
    International Tuition Fees Tuition Fees for international students are elsewhere on this website.
    PAST 320
    Any student can study Theology, whether they are of the Christian faith, another faith or of no religious faith at all. Theology is an examination of the scriptures, history, content and relevance of the Christian faith, but it presupposes or requires no Christian commitment from students. All it requires is an inquiring mind and an interest in those skills that can be gained through the study of any subject in the Humanities.

    Academic Liaison: Professor Paul Trebilco (

    Teaching staff
    Rev Dr Doug Gay
    Rev Dr Steve Taylor
    Paper Structure
    This paper will cover 8 topics:
    • Being church in context: Theology
    • Being church in context: Culture
    • Mapping cultural hermeneutics
    • Critical voices 1: Church in resistance
    • Critical voices 2: Church in innovation
    • Critical voices 3: Church in indignity
    • Leading change: Agency
    • Leading change: Systems
    • 3,000-word case study (40%)
    • 3,000-word field study (40%)
    • Online group wiki assignment (20%)
    Teaching Arrangements

    This paper is taught as a compulsory intensive block course in Dunedin, dates to be announced when paper is next offered.


    There are two required textbooks for this paper:

    1. Norman Thomas (ed), Classic Texts in World Mission, Orbis, 1995.
    2. Steve Taylor, Built for Change, Mediacom, Australia, 2016.
    Graduate Attributes Emphasised
    Interdisciplinary perspective, Global Perspective, Cultural Understanding, Critical Thinking, Information Literacy, Research Skills, Self-Motivation.
    View more information about Otago's graduate attributes.
    Learning Outcomes
    By the end of this paper the students will be able to:
    1. Demonstrate a global and in-depth understanding of the resources of the Christian tradition in relation to the interaction between theology and culture.
    2. Give a critical comprehensive account of the particular ecclesiological issues that arise from engaging in contextual mission and the development of new ecclesial communities.
    3. Critically analyse the strengths and weaknesses of a variety of theological responses to church in changing cultures.
    4. Identify and critically evaluate resources to guide ministry practice in the reforming and reimagining of Christian ecclesial identity.
    5. Critically apply insights from the processes of the formation and development of reforming expressions of church in mission to the cultural complexity of the church in New Zealand today.


    Not offered in 2024, expected to be offered in 2025

    Teaching method
    This paper is taught through Distance Learning
    Learning management system
    Back to top