I posted my final approved doctoral dissertation this week. Just my viva in March, then I print and bind it and it gets filed early April. One of the most important parts of the dissertation to me, yet the part that doesn't need to be included, were my acknowledgments. Like so much of my life, as part of the body of christ, I owe so much to so many people, and I tried to name a few and why they were the reason I made it through to this stage in life, as well as this dissertation. And to so many of you who drop by and interact here, thank you, you have helped shape me and my thinking, and your in here too.
My acknowledgments are in the continuation section. I did enjoy putting the above icon at the end of them all :-)
This dissertation took about 2,000 hours of reading and writing, mostly in the early hours of the morning, over a 5-year period. It also took many years of interactions with people and hours beyond counting. As a Doctor of Ministry dissertation it took shape from many thousands of hours in planting and growing a church. Whilst this is my dissertation, it is the work of many other people who made it possible, and to them I give thanks and dedicate this work.
To Andy Hickford who introduced me to Jesus, not with a propositional sales pitch but an invitation into a life of meaning, purpose, and adventure. You were right; it has been that and much more. Thanks for being my mentor, friend, guide, and one who frequently calls out the things of God in my life including this journey into theology, teaching, and coaching.
To Nick Mercer, for being one of the main reasons I began to study theology so many years ago, for always making me uncomfortable with your questions in a way that caused me to grow, and for being the one person I could go to in safety to talk about my doubts and questions when things were their darkest.
To MaryKate Morse, for being the best doctoral supervisor I could ever have hoped and prayed for. You have been available, interested, supportive, and made my supervision like a process of spiritual direction.
To Jim and Edena Seaton, for all your love, support, and for showing me what parents should be, praying for me so often, and for letting me grow up.To Todd Hunter who introduced me to why theology was the way forward, introduced me to Stanley Grenz and Brian McLaren all those years ago, and gave me the heads up on this course at George Fox University.
To Stanley Grenz, for that one private conversation several years ago, where I asked if doing some more theological study would be helpful, and for your kindness and affirmation to do so. I wish I could thank you in person, and one day I will.
To Brian McLaren, for your friendship, for modeling so much of what I aspire to be, for making theology come alive for me, for being one of the most wonderful human beings who lives what he teaches, and for being broken, open, and vulnerable. Thank you for being my friend, supporter, mentor, coach, rabbi, and constant encourager.
To Antony Billington and Graham McFarlane for the first lunch in 1999 at which I picked your brains and asked for direction in exploring this further. Thanks for being great friends in this journey and setting me on the path of theological exploration. Graham McFarlane, thank you also for the subsequent endless hours of talking, conversation, and theological reflection over coffee in your office leading me in the theological direction that has been the basis for this dissertation.
To Len Sweet, who began as an author I admired and respected, and is now someone who has shaped my mind and thinking. Thank you for your generosity, inspiration, and embodiment of all you teach.
To Chuck Connery and staff at George Fox University for making this program available, for your personal interest and care of me, and for providing something so far beyond a doctorate: a life changing learning experience.
To Loren Kerns, a technological wizard, pedagogical genius, and above all , a sharp, insightful theologian. Thank you for all your support of the program.
To my fellow â€˜co-hortians,â€™ Rick Bartlett, Tony Blair, Winn Griffin, Rick Hans, George Hemmingway, Nick Howard, Todd Hunter, Randy Jumper, Eric Keck, Mike McNichols, Ken Niles, Craig Oldenberg, Rob Seewald, Rick Shrout, Dwight Spotts, Dave Wollenberg. Thanks for making the trip so much fun, and life giving, and for all you kind words, and encouragements over my research.
To Jim and Hannah Dean whose editorial assistance was inestimable.
To Emergent people around the world, for your input on my blog, interactions at speaking events, e-mails, cyber and real relationships. Thanks for questioning my research and providing a readership and voice of support.
To those who have encouraged me to research and write as part of my life and future, in particular: Jim Henderson, Stephen Shields, Caroline Ramsey, Steve Gee, Graham Old, Alan Jamieson, Rob Leitch , Keith Judson, Dave Eaddie, Sivin Kit, Conrad Gempf, Joe Davies, Jon Harris, Steve Chalke, Mark and Faith Allpres, Duncan and Lorna Owen, Dan Barnard, Russell Powter, Simon Skinner, Wendy Sullivan, Scott Pedersen, Alan Mann, and Robin Parry. I know I have forgotten someone.
To my wife Beverley and our children, Anna, Cameron and Leah, for supporting me being up so early, and for traveling so much as I share these ideas. You are the embodiment of the healing God has brought in my life, my sign of the Kingdom, and my hope for eternity.
To Tim Keel, the best friend a man could ever have, thanks for your love, support, and encouragement in every area of my life. To my staff colleagues, Becky, Murray, Bev, Jon, and Joy, for believing in me and for understanding why this was important. To John and Ele Mumford, for giving us room and the encouragement to plant a church and do some things differently. Your support is something I will always treasure.
And lastly to Vineyard Church Sutton. You embody this research, without you it would not exist. Thank you for being a church I love being part of, a community that does life together in all its pain and messiness. For letting me learn, grow, and make so many mistakes.
And lastly to my Nan, for always letting me know you are proud of me.