Research on baptism, faith and spirituality

My neglected blog is up and running again, in perfect time to update you on research I am doing on contemporary faith formation! Last year, I was accepted as a Fellow on the University of Birmingham “New Perspectives on Social Psychology and Religious Cognition for Theologians” Fellowship. That’s a bit of a mouthful, but essentially the Fellowship is training theologians in psychological research methods and theories in relation to how God is seen and understood by people. Exciting, right?

I’ve been to Birmingham for two residentials with my fellow Fellows(!), where we all received loads of input and insights. I was also awarded funding and my fabulous research assistant (Dr Jessica Bent) and I embarked on an exciting new project…

In our research, we want to better understand the relationship between people’s perceptions of God and their aspirations towards living well. Many of you will already know about my doctoral research on why previously unchurched become Christians today. One of the interesting things that came up in the PhD was the match between what the new Christians I interviewed told me they appreciated about God’s character; and things that they aspired to be more like themselves. They told me that they saw God as loving, patient, accepting and forgiving. They also told me they wanted to be more loving, patient, accepting and forgiving themselves! Fascinating, right? Our current project extends that research (in exciting ways, we think!). In our current project, we ask if God representations of recently baptised adult Christians correlate with the attributes they aspire to live out themselves.

We hope that this research will not only contribute to theological and psychological theory, but also help churches and Christians understand how they can best support people towards flourishing.

At the moment, we are at the exciting stage of recruiting participants from NZ Baptist churches for the project. Through an online questionnaire, participants will share about their faith journey, their experiences of other Christians and of God, and their reflections on a series of virtues/characteristics. (We will also be running focus groups later on this topic.)

If you would like to partner with us in the work we are doing, please pass on the link below to anyone over the age of 18 who has been baptised in the last five years. (We’re keen to hear from both those who are active and regular members of their worshipping communities as well as people who have changed churches or denominations or even stopped attending. The stories and reflections of all our participants are needed!)

Here’s the link to the Information Sheet about the project:

Contact lynne(dot)taylor(at)otago(dot)ac(dot)nz if you have any questions!



Lynne is Jack Somerville Senior Lecturer in Pastoral Theology at Otago University; Director and Researcher for AngelWings Ltd; and, most importantly, wife-of-Steve; mumma of Shannon and Kayli; and daughter, sister, friend, aunt (and other essential relational connections). She’s passionate about helping people discover and grow in relationship with God. Also coffee. And creativity. And sunrises. Beaches. All sorts of good things.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *