Better Together: Developing a New Theology of Transformation

 The following is part of the Summer Spotlight series highlighting the unique, formative experiences of faculty and students of Fuller’s School of Intercultural Studies.

Amanda Granger, ‘20 MAICS (Masters of Arts in Intercultural Studies), knows we are better together, and believes there is need for a new “Theology of Transformation” in ministry.

When previously engaged in developmental work, she witnessed many, albeit well meaning, ministry workers failing in the ability to actualize their plans. Through her experiences this summer in Urban Immersion, an interactive, intensive class offered during Summer Quarter, Amanda was able to identify why some ministries struggle, and craft an outline for impactful ministry work.

Before coming to Fuller, Amanda worked in Zimbabwe for two years at a children’s home doing vocational training and development. Although Amanda both enjoyed and thrived in her work, when offered a new 3-5 year position, she decided to take a different route. She wanted to investigate a better way of doing ministry.

While working in Zimbabwe, Amanda repeatedly witnessed plans of well meaning ministry workers never coming to fruition. These experiences lead her to think there had to be a different, better way to serve. This seeking of a better way brought her to Fuller. Amanda chose the MAICS (Masters of Arts in Intercultural Studies) Program because of the world class professors who are both experts in the field, yet recognize how we are all continually learning. In addition, she was drawn to Fuller’s faithful humility approach to development.

She wanted to investigate a better way of doing ministry.

During her weeklong exploration of Los Angeles with Urban Immersion, Amanda met with ministry leaders and organizations like Homeboy Industries and Union Rescue Mission, as well as church leaders from a variety of denominations, resulting in a culturally diverse, deeply formative experience. Amanda says one of her biggest takeaways from the class was that collaboration is a prerequisite for effective ministry. “Sometimes people have tunnel vision when doing ministry, instead they need to have a holistic approach. To have a larger impact, you need to have a lot of different voices involved. This leads to a better Theology of Transformation.”

Collaboration is a prerequisite for effective ministry.

Through her experiences in Urban Immersion, Amanda developed a new theology based on real life contexts. She describes this Theology for Transformation as: “being in relationship with the community you hope to serve, being open minded when approaching an area or people you want to serve, and actually listening to the needs instead of going in with an agenda.”

Effective ministry and transformation happens when people are, as Amanda described: “working with, not working for, side by side instead of top down, listening to lead with humility and grace.” Relationships must include both those we hope to serve, and other ministry workers: “There needs to be a different mentality for what transformation look like, being in relationship with not just who you are serving, but people with the same vision.” 

Transformation happens when people are working with, not working for, side by side instead of top down, listening to lead with humility and grace.

Mission means something different to Amanda after taking Urban Immersion. “Fuller has expanded my scope of what missions can be… I used to think that missions was only evangelism”. Missional living is an indwelling with those you hope to serve, it does not require traveling around the world, but can be practiced and embodied in daily life, in our current context – our neighborhoods, workplaces and schools. “Now I have a broader understanding of God’s overarching narrative for humankind. Missions is more about living than going. This understanding really changes and shapes the way you live your life.”

Missions is more about living than going.

To learn more about Fuller’s MA of Intercultural Studies program visit:

Urban Immersion is designed as an interactive, participatory learning immersion that connects students with the historical and contemporary socio-cultural and ministry dynamics of Los Angeles. Using the city as the lab, the class journey’s through city streets, exploring both the diverse urban context and faith responses to the context. Students engage the whole person from a variety of perspectives as they encounter various approaches to personal, community and city transformation. Urban Immersion is a Summer Quarter intensive class that meets daily for one week from 8am – 5pm.