All the pieces matter: A framework for evaluating mission in Anglican Schools in Australia

Stephen Harrison

Research output: ThesisDoctoral Thesis

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Anglican Schools in Australia have become a missional priority for the Church in the 21st century. With church participation declining and congregations aging, connecting with the substantial number of young people in Anglican Schools is seen as a key task. Developing an effective approach to this mission is a challenging endeavour due to the complex environment of schools. This research seeks to elucidate the intention and approach of the church’s mission in its schools. It focuses on beginning the important work of evaluating missional effectiveness in Anglican Schools in Australia in which faith development is an intended outcome.

This thesis begins by identifying four key Christian mission goals broadly shared by Anglican Schools. These goals are found using key governance documents as well as statements made by schools on their websites. One of the key mission goals is that students might become Christian. The key mission actions schools use to implement their mission goals are also found using a similar methodology.

It is hypothesised and argued that Anglican Schools in Australia intentionally seek to use the school as a plausibility structure for the fulfilment of their Christian mission and the development of faith in young people. A plausibility structure is a social structure in which a particular worldview is promulgated and taken for granted and in which individuals are socialised.

The effectiveness of a plausibility structure approach to faith development in schools is examined. It is concluded that it would be quite difficult for Anglican Schools in Australia to maintain an effective plausibility structure, in part because of contradictory core values. Extending this examination, the external environment of the school is examined. Aspects of Bronfenbrenner’s bioecological systems theory are introduced as a way of analysing the socialising influences on young people in terms of faith development. It is seen that the wider social context has the potential to further impinge on the effectiveness of the plausibility structure constructed by Anglican Schools in Australia.

In concluding the four key mission actions used by Anglican Schools in Australia for faith development are examined in light of Bronfenbrenner’s model and with special focus given to information that demonstrates the power and direction of faith formation processes. A framework based on Bronfenbrenner’s model for evaluating the mission actions of Anglican Schools in Australia is outlined. This framework uses the four elements of person, process, context and time. A tool for evaluating the mission actions of Anglican Schools in Australia based on the preceding research and discussion is proposed. This tool provides the initial impetus to aid mission decisions in the context of Anglican Schools in Australia.
Original languageEnglish
QualificationDoctor of Ministry
Awarding Institution
  • Charles Sturt University
  • Brain, Matthew, Principal Supervisor
  • Frame, Thomas, Co-Supervisor
Award date01 Oct 2017
Publication statusPublished - 2018


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