On behalf of Dr. Kyle Meeker, it’s my pleasure to introduce The W-Spectrum: Worker Paradigms in Muslim Contexts which is on the cover of the new issue of EMQ (Oct 2015). The article is appropriately paired with Travis’ reflections on 15 years of the C-Spectrum. As you may know, the C-Spectrum is probably the most popular article in the 50+ year history of EMQ.
The idea for the W-Spectrum began in 2006 while I was living among an unreached Muslim people group and interacting extensively with other workers who had an incredibly wide variety of approaches to reaching Muslims. One night I started to write an article I titled “Stuck at C3” which was basically my own reflections as to why some workers were unable (IMO) to get to C4. I created a table to compare the differences between C3 and C4 from the viewpoint of the worker, not the Christ centered community. (Note: a “worker” is any follower of Jesus who has an intentional witness among unbelievers.) However, at a conference a few months later, I shared this idea with some colleagues. One of them, my boss at the time, told me that the C-Spectrum was never meant to describe worker views or practices, only to describe indigenous fellowships. This prevented me from writing an article I would have deeply regretted!
With this insight, I then went and expanded my categories, renamed them from C3 to W3, etc., and reworked the table based on how I would observe workers in diverse contexts explain the reason for their approaches. This process took several years of informal research and listening on my part.
I initially toyed with the idea of having 6 paradigms, but I felt it too was complicated, and then 5 paradigms, but I was nervous people would commit the “middle ground” fallacy and thus be uncritically drawn to the moderate approach. Thus, I ended up at 4 worker paradigms, the W1-4 Spectrum (which do NOT correlate with the C-Spectrum):
- Triumph Model- “Christianity triumphs over Islam”
- Replacement Model- “Christianity replaces Islam”
- Transformation Model- ““Biblical faith transforms Muslims”
- Completion Model- “Biblical faith completes Muslims”
While the W-Spectrum was still in draft form, I told Dr. Meeker about it. We are actually cousins (biologically speaking!) and I owe him a whole lot more credit than just for giving me chicken pox when I was five years old. Kyle is basically better than me than everything except fantasy football and ping-pong. He was further able to fine tune the W Spectrum and offer many invaluable improvements.
That being said, while this is all good and nice, the W-Spectrum was still just an unscientific guess at this point in 2011: it needed validation. Meeker then took this on as a missiological project to test as part of his doctoral thesis (“Meeker, Kyle. 2014. Worker Praxis in Muslim Contexts: Discovering and Assessing Paradigms in Kingdom Witness, Talbot School of Theology, Biola.) Basically, we wanted to disprove the W-Spectrum as a tool for helping a worker discover their paradigm of witness among Muslims. Over 200 people responded to an online survey. But when Dr. Meeker evaluated the data using quantitative statistical analysis, we found that the opposite was true. Hence the birth of the W-Spectrum. (Even if it was “disproved” though, it still would have been interesting to see why.)
Last summer we condensed Dr. Meeker’s dissertation into this EMQ article. I’m glad it took so long and that we had so much input from other workers and missiologists during the process. As you read the article, you’ll notice that we spend more time discussing the nature, usefulness, and limitations of the W-Spectrum than we do actually explaining the paradigms within the W-Spectrum itself. This is partly because we are so concerned of the potential it has to be misused, as was/is often the case with the C-Spectrum. EMQ also has a very low 3,000 word limit.
As a side note for full disclosure- that is a picture of me on the cover. The man next to me was one of the first Muslims that I ever had the privilege to walk with on his journey to following Jesus. My teammate took the picture when we attended a wedding in his village. I rarely dressed like that and only for special ceremonies/occasions (like every other local would), but sometimes also when someone would come to my house to study the Bible.
In any case, the final result of this 9 year process is the W-Spectrum. Scott Moreau says in the editorial of this issue of EMQ:
While the C-Spectrum describes the fellowships that Travis observed (and continues to observe) in Muslim settings, no one has proposed a parallel spectrum of the roles that missionaries take on in Muslim settings. Warrick Farah and Kyle Meeker propose a W-Spectrum to explore this facet.
Read the entire W-Spectrum article. (Subscription required. I’m checking with EMQ regarding what exactly I can share on this blog from the article.)
It is my hope and prayer that the W-Spectrum and the model within The Complexity of Insiderness (which is very different than the C Spectrum) will help advance our missiological discussions into the nature of ministry among Muslims.