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MLK Drum Major for Justice Scholars Program


Interpreting the Culture of a Congregation

READING: “Exegeting the Congregation” 

In her book, Preaching as Local Theology and Folk Art (a book you may want to purchase), Leonora Tubbs Tisdale emphasizes the importance of articulating the Gospel in a way that resonates with local (or cultural) concerns.


In this chapter, Tisdale offers practical advice on how to “exegete” or interpret different congregations and the local cultures in which they are engaged. While you will read this chapter now, you will want to come back to it again for your final project.


As you read, consider the following questions:

  • What does it mean for the pastor to act as an "ethnographer"?

  • The resource discusses seven symbols for congregational exegesis. Which of these do you think would be easiest to access? Which would be the most difficult to access?

  • The resource indicates that a congregation's worldview and values include their view of God, humanity, nature, time, the church, and mission. Think about your own church context. Which view would you say has been most significant in shaping the particularity of your church context?

Click here to download and view the reading.


Source: Leonora Tubbs Tisdale, “Exegeting the Congregation” in Preaching as Local Theology and Folk Art, Fortress Resources for Preaching (Minneapolis: Fortress, 1997), 56–90.


*** Estimated time to complete learning activity: 102 minutes ***

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