Elliott provides an overview of the recent sociological theories. The core of these theories is the nature of society. The author aims to introduce his readers to the challenging perspectives, and the resultant innovations of contemporary social processes.
Elliott organizes his work around several themes. The first theme concerns the relation of the individual and society. That is, how practical social life happens and is sustained throughout history. The second theme concerns the complexity of norms that dominate society while recognizing the mixed, confusing experience of the individuals within society. The third theme deals with the unprecedented social transformation taking place within society. While change is essential to social transformation, the causes and pace of change are assessed differently from various hypothetical perspectives. The fourth theme deals with gender and sexuality issues. The final theme deals with the relationship between one’s public and private worlds. That is how the cultural and personal levels of society intertwine.
While my frame of reference has and will always remain focused on local church leadership, this text does provoke my thinking about the interactions between society and the church. Borrowing from Elliott’s working themes, what is the relationship between the individual believer and their society? What is the role of the local church in society? For some parts of the church, we withdrew from society to be “unspotted” by the concerns of this world. We may have even (regrettably) criticized and judged believers for being too actively engaged in society (especially politics.) For other parts of the church, we viewed interaction with society as being an exciting opportunity to be salt and light, impacting our society with the same transformative power of Christ that transformed us. Perhaps these portions of the church have even engaged in partnering with non-Christians to encourage voter participation and campaigning for policy reform. It would appear that in the church we have always struggled with how to interact with society in a life-giving, gospel-focused manner. How will my research benefit pastors and their leadership teams to navigate their social interactions?
What about the complexity of norms that dominate our society? How does the church relate with individuals and their mixed, confused experience? How does the church stay true to the essential attributes of the Gospel while discipling believers how to live out their faith in a society of competing norms? While I believe Elliott provides no answers for the church, he does draw my attention to reputable social theories that the church must wrestle with and ultimately strive to provide a working construct. How will my research assist pastors and their leadership teams expand the Kingdom within their pluralistic societies?
Social transformation is happening everywhere but at different rates of acceleration and velocity. How can the local church stay culturally significant in serving their respective locale? How can they exegete their local communities to see what is on the hearts and minds of their local communities? How can my research inform pastors and their leadership teams in the development of their adaptive leadership skills to serve their community better today?
While the Vineyard movement promotes egalitarian leadership within its churches, how will this work out in greater leadership access for women throughout the movement? What will this look like in the various levels of the USA movement? What about within our sibling movements globally? How can my research assist female pastoral leaders, whether they are co-leading with their spouses or as the lead pastor? How can my research assist female leaders at the regional and national levels of their respective Vineyard communities?
Finally, how will my research resource pastors and their leadership teams to develop communities of believers who live out their calling daily? The values of the Vineyard’s kingdom of God theological motif (including being “naturally supernatural”) lends itself towards being culturally relevant. That is, believers should view all of their life, both private and public, as a whole unified opportunity to live in the midst of the tension of the already/not yet. While easier to state, we must continue to embrace the opportunities to engage with our culture and live out our faith daily. While Elliott has provided no solutions, he has provoked many questions for me concerning how will the church engage society. Upon reflection, I wonder if he has forced me to consider how my research will help the church’s pastors and their leadership teams with these social questions of engagement?
 Elliott, Anthony, Contemporary Social Theory: An Introduction, rev. ed. (London, UK: Routledge, 2014), 7.
 Elliott, Contemporary Social Theory, 11-15.