Publications by David Clark

Community and a Suburban Village (1969)
Sheffield University, PhD thesis (unpublished)
‘The Concept of Community’ (August, 1973)
The Sociological Review, University of Keele, Vol 12 No 3

These two ‘publications’ represent the beginning of my life-long sociological journey of exploration into the nature and importance of the concept of ‘community’.   My PhD thesis, undertaken under the auspices of the Department of Sociological Studies at Sheffield University, was an investigation into how a sense of community, experienced in a suburban village, Woodhouse on the outskirts of Sheffield, had weakened or strengthened over fifty years.   I investigated the life of Woodhouse in 1912 and in 1966, and compared the sense of its being a community at those two points in time.   For this study, I assumed that the experience of community embraced two key sentiments – a sense of significance and a sense of solidarity.  In my article in The Sociological Review, I commented on these two key components of community sentiment from a theoretical vantage point.   The publications below, especially from the late 1980’s onwards, show how my understanding of the sociological and theological dimensions of community, and of their complementarity, has developed since that time.

Three articles on social education:
Social Education: And Experiment with Early School Leavers
Journal of Moral Education (1973) Vol 2 No 3
Group Work with Early School Leavers
Journal of Curriculum Studies (1975) Vol 7 No 1
The Academic, the Interpersonal,
and the Role of the Teacher in Social and Moral Education
Journal of Moral Education (1976) Vol 5 No 2

These three articles came out of the time I spent on the staff of a new Social Education Department set up by Eltham Green Comprehensive School in SE London to serve the needs of early school leavers .   The articles were concerned about the meaning of community – but here regarding its potential for enhancing the learning process.   The Department concerned was highly innovative and allowed for some radical educational ‘experiments’ with pupils who had many social as well as educational needs.    My experience at Eltham Green informed my educational approach from then on and had a major influence on the stance I took in my later book Schools as Learning Communities (1996).

Basic communities – Towards an Alternative Society (1977)
London: SPCK
In this book I present data on a host of small Christian groups and communities which sprang up in the 1970’s – and some before.   Reference to innovative religious orders is also made.   I place the groups and communities under headings such as: ‘Intentional communities’, ‘Spirituality’, ‘Communities of learning’ and ‘Caring communities’.   The data came mainly from my travels during the 1970’s when, often dragging my young family with me, I visited many of these groups and communities across the UK.   My travels and data collection led to my setting up the National Centre for Christian Communities and Networks (NACCCAN) in Birmingham in 1980, and convening the first national Christian Community Congress in the UK in the same year.

Community Education for a Multi-Ethnic Society (1982)
Birmingham University, MEd thesis (unpubished)

I undertook this thesis because I wanted to explore the relation of ‘community’ and ‘education’ to the increasingly multi-ethnic city, Birmingham, in which I was then working.   The question I focus on is how ‘education for community’ – in schools and other neighbourhood agencies – can help create more cohesive multi-ethnic neighbourhoods, especially where the latter are economically and socially disadvantaged.  An important aspect of the thesis was the exploration of the potential for greater cohesion of different models of ‘integration’.

The Liberation of the Church – The role of basic Christian groups
in a new re-formation (1984) 
Westhill College, Birmingham: NACCCAN
This book reviews the potential of the scores of Christian groups and networks springing up at the time for bringing into being a new form of church.   Chapter titles include: ‘The captive church’, ‘Breakthrough?’. ‘The missionary structure of the church’ and ‘One in Christ’.   My hope at the time – not to be realized – was that the emerging Christian Community Movement would have the coherence and resilience to compel the inherited church to take notice of its potential to bring about a ‘new re-formation’.

Yes to Life – in search of the kingdom community (1987)
London: Collins Fount Paperback
This book is a kind of mid-life autobiography.   It is written in a more popular style and traces my personal search for a new way of being church from my first appointment as a Methodist minister in Woodhouse, Sheffield, in the 1960’s.   It tells the story of my involvement with the Christian Community Movement of the 1970’s and 1980’s, and includes an evaluation of the degree to which this innovative ecumenical network of small groups and religious orders could be taken as a marker and model for the church to come.   In this book I introduce the images of Trinity, ‘kingdom community’ and the latter’s gifts of life, liberation and love (building on the sociological concepts of security, now added to those of significance and solidarity, I which I identified as the foundations of community some twenty years earlier).

Schools as Learning Communities – Transforming Education (1996)
 London: Cassell
By the end of the 1980’s I had given up my co-ordinating role within the Christian Community Movement and was seeking to apply my insights into the nature and power of community more specifically within the secular world.   As I was a senior lecturer in community education at Westhill College, Birmingham, and deeply involved in the developing phenomenon of community schools, I turned my thoughts to the neglected potential of schools as learning communities.   The book is a thorough exploration of how the collective experience of community could inform, enrich and energize the life of the school and transform the curriculum into a dynamic learning experience.   It uses the 3Ss – a sense of security, significance and solidarity – as key concepts.   I regard the book as one of the best I have written and still believe that it’s way ahead of its time – in fact education has since then retreated further and further into a functional and test-dominated exercise.   Even church schools have lost their way.

Changing World, Unchanging Church? (1997)
London: Mowbray
In the 1990’s, I set up the ‘Christians in Public Life Programme’ (CIPL).   It was an attempt to explore how Christian faith could be more effectively related to public life, not least through lay people actively involved in it.   The programme had two facets – producing a series of short papers on the theme of Christian faith and public life and a series of conferences.   In all, over 200 papers were written (many by lay people) and widely disseminated.   This book consists of the best of those papers, written before the end of 1996.   Though they are dated in respect of particulars, many are still highly relevant to issues of today.

Building the Human City – the Origins and Future Potential of the Human City Institute: 1995 – 2002  (2012)
Birmingham: Human City Institute [see also this blog Page 14]
[download from]
This publication is here out of order date-wise.   This is because it is an account, written some twelve years later, of the vision and origins of the Human City Institute (HCI) which, after taking early retirement, I founded in Birmingham in 1997.   The Human City Initiative, which began some four years earlier and resulted in the founding of the Institute was, from my perspective, an attempt to put into practice the agenda spelled out in the papers published by CIPL.   If we couldn’t make our visions a reality, why bother writing lots of papers?   The Institute had too many innovative features to detail here.  HCI’s approach to urban renewal had not been tried before, and has not been tried since.   However, I still believe it offers a fascinating model for the regeneration of our cities.   Unfortunately, from my point of view, though HCI is still up and running, it has now become a think tank, mainly holding conferences and producing research papers.   That’s a very worthwhile undertaking.   However, you will need to read this document to understand the unique vision of urban renewal which HCI was originally trying to further.

Breaking the Mould of Christendom: Kingdom Community, Diaconal Church and the Liberation of the Laity (2005, reprinted 2014)   [also in e-book format]
Peterborough: Upfront Publishing
By the time this book appeared, several important changes had taken place in my personal life.   We had retired to live in ‘the white highlands’ of Bakewell in the Peak District National Park.   I had also become a member of the Methodist Diaconal Order.   These changes, together with the invaluable development of the Internet, gave me the opportunity to reflect on the many experiences and diverse initiatives I had been involved in over past years and get down in writing (and much later through this blog) some of my thinking about them.   In particular, I wanted to reflect on the nature of ‘community’, a topic which had fascinated me ever since my PhD was undertaken in the late 1960’s.   I now had time to explore at more depth how Christian faith might add value to my sociological understanding of the concept of community – originally based on the 3Ss – a sense of security, significance and solidarity – and the ways these underpinned my  3Ls  – the divine gifts of life, liberation and love – which lay at the heart of the theological concept of the kingdom community.   Furthermore, I had become very interested, not least through becoming a deacon, in the emerging model of ‘the diaconal church’.   Thus this book is an attempt to set out a theology of the kingdom community, an ecclesiology of the diaconal church as that community’s servant, and how the laity, the church’s primary resource for mission, might break clear of the mould of Christendom to help transform society and world.   Through a series of case-studies, I also evaluate many of the initiatives described in  my earlier books, and try to assess whether or not they helped to further the emergence of the diaconal church.

The Diaconal Church – beyond the mould of Christendom
(2008, reprinted May 2017)
Peterborough: Upfront Piblishing
Breaking the Mould of Christendom produced some very supportive comments but also some searching criticisms.   Therefore, the Editor of the Epworth Press and I decided to produce a symposium in which contributors, from different denominations, assessed the strengths and weakness of the concept of ‘the diaconal church’ and ‘a renewed diaconate’.   Contributors included Stuart Murray, Paul Lakeland, John Atherton, Kenneth Leech, Sally Simmel, Paula Gooder and the then Warden of the Methodist Diaconal Order, Sue Jackson.   I wrote some  a final section on ‘A diaconal church for a diaconal world’.   This book represents the stage at which I began to add the process of ‘socialization’, as a fourth S, to  my sociological construct of community.   At the same time, I added a fourth L – ‘learning’ – as defined in Breaking the Mould of Christendom – to my 3Ls.

Reshaping the mission of Methodism – a diaconal church approach (2010) 
Oldham: Church in the Market Place
For a good while I had been wanting to test out how well the British Methodist Church reflected my model of the diaconal church.   This symposium approaches that question by asking a number of leading figures in British Methodism to explore ways in which they
believe the Methodist Church needs to be ‘reshaped for mission’.   In the second part of the book, I reflect on their contributions.   Where the hall-marks of the diaconal church a were mentioned, I integrated them into my model, theological and practical, of a Methodist Church ‘reshaped for mission’.   Of considerable interest, to me at least, is how my 4Ls mirror the gospel of ‘communal holiness’ to which Methodism was originally deeply committed.

The Kingdom at Work Project – a communal approach to mission in the workplace (2014)   [also in ebook format] 
[see also Blog Page 12]
Peterborough: Upfront Publishing
Throughout my ministry, I have been convinced that the primary mission resource of the church are its lay people, not least in relation to the world of work.   This book integrates that life-long conviction and my belief that, unless our world is transformed into a global community of communities which manifest the gifts of the kingdom community, we will self-destruct.   I also wished to move beyond books which focused mainly on the theology of work, which I felt often restrictive, and offer a theology of the workplace.   It is the communal transformation of the latter which I believe holds the key to the communal transformation of the world of work.   The book offers a comprehensive review of mission in relation to the world of work covering theology, spirituality, and economics, leadership (including a review of chaplaincy and ministry in secular employment), discernment and intervention, education for such a mission, and the importance of mentors to help equip lay people for this challenging mission task.   Its foundation is a theology of the kingdom community (and its 4Ls) and an ecclesiology drawn from the diaconal church.

Building Kingdom Communities – with the diaconate as a new order of mission (2016)
Peterborough: Upfront Publishing
After ten years of writing about the diaconal church and a renewed diaconate, I felt the need to gather from my past publications those passages which remained formative in my thinking and shaped the views I currently hold.   Therefore, this book reproduces key sections from my earlier publications and seeks to integrate them into a holistic theology and ecclesiology of the diaconal church and its kingdom community building mission.   In the book I attempt to identify what such a development might look like.   I also present the British Methodist Church and its Methodist Diaconal Order as offering church and world some hall-marks of a diaconal church, a renewed diaconate and a ‘renewed’ form of presbyteral ministry.   Gathering this material together has taken my thinking forward yet again.   For example, I now believe more firmly than ever that a   diaconal church and renewed diaconate will struggle to come to fulfilment unless there is a renewal of presbyteral ministry.