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Response Paper Assignment on Barber, The Third Reconstruction

THE 511 Christian Ethics


Motivation and Formation for Public Prophetic Ministry


In The Third Reconstruction, William J. Barber, II, tells the story of how and why he began and has continued to take up the work of moral leadership and advocacy. The book is partly autobiographical and partly theoretical. As an autobiographical work, it tells stories of his life and experiences in light of the times in which he has lived. As a theoretical work, it draws on those stories to help situate and explain the kind of work that he has done.

This link between the narrative of one’s life and the commitments which guide one’s choices is a foundational element that helps to drive the formation of ministers. People do not decide to do the difficult work of building a church or ministry, raising funds, training leaders, and structuring their work unless they have a drive or a passion to do so.

In this assignment, you are focusing especially on the ways that Barber reveals the relationship between motivationally significant experiences and the convictions that have shaped the way he does his work. The book is structured to reveal these connections to the reader, telling stories which both provide motivation and shape key convictions in his work.

This paper should be approximately 1000 words, roughly three to four pages, double-spaced. Most of the paper, about two thirds, involves your reporting on specific examples from the story Barber tells. Identify two important motivating, formational experiences from Barber’s life story and explain the way that those experiences helped to define the way he would organize his work as a minister and leader for social change. There are many more than two such examples, so you should choose the ones that you find especially interesting and compelling. Write approximately 300 words on each of these two examples by telling in your own words how Barber was motivated through his life experiences and how he learned from those experiences to structure his approach to his work.

The last part of the paper, about one third, is your interaction with the book. How does the story of Barber’s growth and development as an organizational leader and minister interact with your self-reflection as a leader? What can you see that is similar or different about your motivation and vocation? How does studying this leader’s story affect your thinking and planning about future ministry?

To summarize in outline:

The topic of the paper is motivation and formation as a minister and leader.

Describe and analyze two specific formational experiences from Barber’s story and the convictions that grow out of those, in about 300 words each.

Interact with Barber’s book as it relates to your growth and development as a leader, in about 400 words.

The entire paper should be about 1000 words.

The only required source for the paper is Barber, The Third Reconstruction; other sources from the course readings are acceptable as appropriate. Cite all sources properly.

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