Christopher B. James

cultivating church for a changing context

The church is in the midst of a season of dramatic cultural and religious shifts. Led by Dr. Christopher James and Dr. Alan Roxburgh, this Doctor of Ministry Cohort at the University of Dubuque Theological Seminary will go on a journey of discerning the unique character of our emerging context, learn what kind of faithful leadership it requires and develop the critical spiritual and missional practices that equip us to join God’s mission in the midst of our communities and neighborhoods.

Perspectives on Ecclesiology and Ethnography (Review)

My review of Perspectives on Ecclesiology and Ethnography edited by Pete Ward. Originally published in Missiology: An International Review.
Is this really a church? Yes. What’s it doing in bar? We’ll get to that. Isn’t it unusual to have church outside a church building? Apparently not. Forty-four percent of the new Christian churches founded in Seattle between 2001 and 2014 met in non-traditional spaces like community centers and living rooms, according to research by professor Christopher James of the University of Dubuque. Fascinating, right?
What practices can sustain missional practice and spiritual vitality among church planters?
In the midst of the decline of mainline denominations and the rise of the "nones" in the U.S. something surprising is happening. Church planting is booming.

Newbigin's Gospel in a Pluralist Society

A while back I was invited to speak to a group called Theology on Tap about "The Gospel in a Post-Christian World." The topic, it seemed to me, begged two questions. The first is “What is the gospel?” and the second is “Where are we? What is this post-Christian world in which we live?”
The Pacific Northwest is one of the most fertile seedbeds for religious innovation and creativity in North America. To be sure, the separation of church and state has historically made North America as a whole an exceptionally open religious environment. That said, the Pacific Northwest (PNW) seems to exceed all other regions in its receptivity to religious experimentation.

Missional Acuity: 20th Century Insights Toward a Redemptive Way of Seeing

What kind of Christian spirituality is needed to foster and enliven missional living?

Interview on Portland's Rose City Forum

Andee Zommerman / Rose City Forum KKPZ
Andee Zommerman interviews Dr. Christopher B. James about his research into church planting in Seattle for this hour-long interview on the Rose City Forum, a Portland-based program. The show has recently hosted such guests as Doug Pagitt, Christian Piatt, and Rachel Held Evans.
“This is a contextual change that is affecting and will continue to affect Christians of all denominations,” said Christopher B. James, an instructor in evangelism and missional Christianity at the University of Dubuque Theological Seminary. His research has found the region’s fruitful churches do at least one of three things: They make space for spiritual exploration even for people unfamiliar with Christianity; they offer a sense of belonging; or they provide service opportunities so people can invite friends to serve with them.
“A lot of churches have closed, and I expect more of them to follow in the future," James said. Affected most by this decline are rural churches, which already struggle with population declines in their communities.
John Kruse / Telegraph Herald