Type of Document Thesis Author Mumm, Noelani T. URN etd-07272011-164826 Title Christian Home Groups: An Ethnographic Study of 21st Century Christians and their Built Environments Degree Master of Fine Arts Department Interior Design, Department of Advisory Committee
Advisor Name Title Lisa Waxman Committee Chair Jill Pable Committee Member Jim Dawkins Committee Member Keywords
- small groups
- built environment
- home groups
- house church
Date of Defense 2011-06-29 Availability unrestricted Abstract
This study explores the expression of Christian fellowship in the home. The purpose of this study is to gain an understanding of how Christians today express koinonia, the Greek term used in New Testament scripture to describe the church community. More specifically, the study examines how the homes in which these groups meet accommodate the participants. This study, ethnographic in nature, investigates three home fellowship groups and employs the methods of participatory observations, personal interviews and photography. The observations and interviews focused on the social, spiritual and physical characteristics of each group.
Pastor and member interviews revealed that there is a mutual desire for community outside of Sunday services. Also, church buildings are not solely sufficient environments for fostering community. Interviews also revealed that the home is the most conducive environment to cultivate community. However, the observations showed that the built environment was not the most powerful variable influencing the group. Other influencing factors include length of relationships, amount of shared experiences, quality of leadership, intention of participants, group size and group focus.
The home did affect the activities and comfort levels of the participants in the home groups. The most influential physical attribute of the home was the floor plan. The open floor plan best suited the needs of these groups. The homes under observation that did not have an open floor plan proved to hinder certain aspects of the groupís operations. Lighting and soft furnishings played a role in the functions of these groups as well. The presence of carpeting or rugs, comfortable and movable seating, pillows, and dimmable lighting were found to be desired among the group members. The lack of these items was also found to be a hindrance to the group functions at times.
Conclusively, this study reveals insight into the 21st century expression of the first century Christian house church. Interviews, observations and photographs yielded qualitative research to aid in the understanding of how these groups function and how the space affects the functions of home groups. Practical suggestions for accommodating a home group are presented in Chapter Five.
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