A couple of models for missional thinking

I came across these in some recent reading as they relate to my PhD. The first is the Engel scale – a sixteen point scale that attempts to plot responses to and journeys toward Christian faith.

engel-scale

The second is the Gray Matrix. This is a response to and development of Engel’s scale which factors in attitude as well as knowledge.

gray-matrix-2

Now here’s a few reflections on these models:

  • First, I’ve been unable to find the methodology behind these results. I don’t know if they’re based on research interviews or something else, and I’d be keen to know the basis upon which these models are proposed (any help on sources appreciated).
  • Second, it has been widely recognised that overly neat and linear presentations don’t fully represent the reality of people’s faith journey.
  • Third, these models are only useful if you factor in the sovereign grace of God, at which point the usefulness is hugely relativized.
  • Fourth, these models strike me as a tad cognitive, and perhaps do not give quite enough weight to the emotional or experiential – perhaps?
  • Fifth, there is the danger that we can use these models to plot the idealized pathway to faith which is, given points 2 and 3, not easy or necessarily fruitful.
  • Finally, and with all the necessary caveats in place it may be worth pondering whether our missional strategies hit some of these different points on the pathways. Are we doing all our work at points 8, 9, 10? Are we sufficiently aware of and active in the realms of points 1, 2, 3? And how might you adopt different approaches to the open and to the hostile?

Models like this are funny things. It strikes me they can serve as potentially useful tools, but truly terrible masters. What do you think? Is this stuff helpful? How might you utilise these models?

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One thought on “A couple of models for missional thinking

  1. Thanks Martin. Agree with your observations. Love links as well with comments that it takes about 10 years for someone to move to faith. When I heard that it reminded me of the difference between Japanese and Western Manufacturing. The West accept and plan in for long lead times and large batch sizes. Japanese or the Toyota Production system asked why they were so long. As someone commented to me recently – dome of the people I know may not have ten years

    Re the emotional and experiential side I suspect that on Grays model it would be this that would play a big part in someone crossing from closed to open or from open to closed. I wonder if movement is always one way?

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