Why on earth a glossary?
This blog is very much about a communal way of being church.   However, it is also about a communal way of being groups, associations, institutions, cities and societies.   Because some of the terms I use are inevitably theologically or sociologically ‘in-house’ I have added this glossary.   My hope is that it will be a quick way for those who are thrown by the terminology to make more sense of what I mean by a diaconal church and diaconal society.   My apologies if this still leaves too prominent what some might regard as jargon.


The communal dilemma     The problem human collectives face when challenged to become increasingly open to one another, without undermining or weakening their own sense of community or that of others.

Communal holiness (or wholeness)     A divine gift which, embodying the kingdom community’s gifts of life, liberation, love and learning, transforms humankind into whole persons, whole families, whole institutions, whole cities, whole societies and one world, and reveals the integrity of creation.

Community educator      A person who educates others in the art of community building.   A key aspect of servant leadership.

Connexion(al)     The term given by the British Methodist Church referring to the entirety and spread of its organizational life and work.

Deacon, diaconal, diaconate     ‘Deacon’ – an office or role within the church characterized by the stance of servanthood (a term not synonymous with ‘service’).
‘Diaconal’ – the features of an organization or institution which reflect the stance of   servanthood.
‘Diaconate’ – a collective consisting of deacons and/or deaconesses.

Deacon – distinctive or permanent     The ministry of a deacon usually undertaken for life and not as a stage en route to becoming ordained as a priest.

Diaconal church     A church which seeks to be the servant of the kingdom community.   Its mission is the building of communities transformed by (and which continue to manifest) the kingdom community’s gifts of life, liberation, love and learning.

Dispersed church     Church members when engaged in ministry and mission in daily life beyond the life of the local church.

The 4Ls     The kingdom community’s gifts of life, liberation, love and learning

The 4Ss     A sense of security, of significance, of solidarity and socialization – the key components of a sociological understanding of the concept of community

Gifts of the kingdom community –     The universal and inclusive gifts of life, liberation, love and learning
The gift of life                 The gift of God as Creator
The gift of liberation       The gift of Christ as Liberator
The gift of love               The gift of the Holy Spirit as Unifier
The gift of learning         The gift of the Trinity as a learning community

Human (or social) collectives   A generic term to denote any form of human gathering from the small group to the large institution.

Holy communion      A sacrament in some contexts referred to as the Eucharist or Mass.

Kingdom community     The divine community which manifests the Trinity’s universal and inclusive gifts of life, liberation, love and learning

Kingdom communities     Human collectives that manifest one or more of the kingdom community’s gifts of, life, liberation, love and learning.

Local church     The church (people and plant) situated in a particular locality (such as a parish).   Sometimes referred to as ‘the gathered church’, especially when some of its members have to travel from outside the local neighbourhood to attend it.

Mission     The building of communities transformed by (and which manifest) the kingdom community’s gifts of life, liberation, love and learning.

Pioneer minister     In the context of the ‘servant leader’, a ministry which gives particular prominence to the roles of ‘visionary’ and ‘animator’.

Presbyter     A leadership role referred to in the early church but in a number of churches now superseded by that of ‘priest’ or ‘minister’.

Reality   That which makes the cosmos what it is, sustains this planet and enables human civilization to survive and flourish.   From a Christian perspective, this Reality is synonymous with the Trinity and its gift of the  kingdom community.

Servant leadership     A form of leadership which seeks to create human collectives that manifest the kingdom community’s gifts of life, liberation, love and learning.

Servant leadership –  complementary roles     Visionary (envisions the 4Ls), strategist (earths the 4Ls), animator (advances the gift of life); enabler (advances the gift of liberation); intermediary (advances the gift of love); educator (advances the gift of learning)

Social collectives     See ‘human collectives’ 

Social reality     That which is real about human life – in all its appalling cruelty and destructiveness, compassion and glorious creativity.   What we must address in the present without fear or despair, nostalgia or sentimentality.

Threefold ministry     The ministries of deacon, presbyter and bishop.   These are often taken as forming an hierarchical model of authority ascending from the office of deacon, through the office of presbyter (priest) to the office of bishop.

Word and sacrament     An aspect of ministry focused, most often in worship, on the exposition of the bible and the administration of the sacraments, especially that of holy communion.