Ethnographic Research

Michael Bishop 23 May 2016 UMC  leadership  sunday blog  Last Sunday, I mentioned a project that I am doing as part of the coursework for my MTh studies. Quite a few of you have asked about it, so here’s what it’s all about:

The aim of the exercise is to describe the culture of UMC – the unique way we do things here. Being able to describe our culture is important from a leadership perspective because, as one of our lecturers put it:

leadership involves wisely managing change, and trying to implement change without understanding culture is like trying to move the visible portion of an iceberg, but ignoring the portion that is under the water – you might shift it a little, but it will bounce back!

The research method being used is called ethnographic research and it involves a series of interviews – 24 in total with members of our community. 18 of the interviews are with church members (a diverse spread of men and women of different ages, who have been a part of UMC for different periods of time) and the remaining 6 are with people who are not worshiping members of the church, but have some knowledge of UMC. The research gurus say that 24 is a good number to get a sufficient range of perspectives.

So, over the last week these interviews have begun and interviewees have each been asked 8 probing questions which involve among other things, describing the church and their experiences of worship and discipleship, conflict and change. The final results of the interviews are handled anonymously and sent off to one of my fellow students, who will use the data to write a report for us (and I will write a report for one of the other churches doing the study).

The report will aim to describe UMC rather than evaluate the church and should make for fascinating reading. You’ll all be welcome to have a look when it is completed later in the year. Thank you to all have participated (and I’m sorry we couldn’t involve all of you) But we are interested in all of your perspectives and value your feedback!


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