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Verbum et Ecclesia

versão On-line ISSN 2074-7705
versão impressa ISSN 1609-9982

Verbum Eccles. (Online) vol.30 no.2 Pretoria  2009 



Leadership in Acts through a social capital lens



Ian A. Nell

department of Practical Theology and Missiology, University of Stellenbosch, South Africa





Social capital can be defined in various ways. In most of these definitions at least three dimensions can be distinguished. First there is 'bonding' (the horizontal relationships between people operating within different social networks and with specific norms and values). The second dimension is 'bridging' (bonds that transcend differences in religion, ethnicity, culture and socio-economic status). This dimension prevents horizontal ties from becoming the basis for narrow and even sectarian interests. Normally, a third dimension called 'linking' also forms part of social capital, and ideological aspects come into focus here. This dimension includes aspects such as justice, political power and the equitable distribution of income and property. When leadership in Acts is analysed through the lenses of these multi-focal spectacles, interesting perspectives are discovered that can enrich theories on leadership. These discoveries can also open up new perspectives on aspects of being a missional church in our South African context from within the context of Acts.

Keywords: leadership; Acts; social capital; faith communities; post-apartheid South Africa



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Ian Nell
171 Dorp Street
Faculty of Theology
Stellenbosch, 7600
South Africa

Received: 25 Aug. 2009
Accepted: 04 Nov. 2009
Published: 14 Dec. 2009



Note: This article was previously delivered as a paper at the Acts conference, 'Missionary Church in Acts? A joint project of the Faculty of Theology of Stellenbosch and Communitas', 18-20 May 2009. This material is based on work supported by the National Research Foundation under Grant number 65620. Any opinions, findings, conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the author and the NRF does not accept any liability in regard thereto.

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