Christian education--Methods

Visio Divina: In Light of the USCCB Curriculum Framework

Eileen B Maggiore D.Min.
This thesis-project involved working with eleven high school seniors from two schools while applying visual ethnographic research. The research method for ministry is attributed to Evelyn and James Whitehead’s attending, asserting, and responding. The study addresses three Catholic traditions-- the USCCB's Doctrinal Elements of a Curriculum Framework for the Development of Catechetical Materials for Young People of High School Age, emerging disciples, and Lectio-Visio Divina -- juxtaposed to learning styles and postmodern American teens who attend two Chicagoland area Catholic high schools. The students were asked about their social media usage, teaching preferences and definition of a disciple. The interviewed students elicited a visual image, upon request, which represents discipleship and through the process of lamination described their image. The students spoke to their preferences of teaching styles along with how they would teach younger students. Students conversed about the time when they most felt like a disciple.
The interviewed students exhibited transformative learning after generating visual images from their personal mobile phones. The interviewees’ definition of a disciple became more elaborate as they progressed with the visual ethnographic discussion. The initial feedback to discipleship prompted an intellectual answer and through lamination their response became more personal. The students utilized generative learning to create a thick description of their previous knowledge about discipleship.
The students’ desire is to have their lessons taught with visuals and other supportive techniques, including time to assess new epistemologies. These findings suggest that the students are interested in a more embodied teaching experience which could promote teens into becoming emerging disciples. Transformative learning tools are found not to oppose, but rather complement the USCCB's Framework. It is suggested that the Gospel Visual Creation or to Pray the Lesson are teaching techniques which could assist in the formation of disciples among Catholic high school students.


David Alan Shaffer D.Min.
This project seeks to answer the research question, “Does an eight-week, small group-based Bible study course for married couples strengthen the marriage relationships of its participants?” Today’s most effective marriage programs focus on important themes relevant to marriage and include transparency, a biblical foundation, and gentle accountability. Still, the question follows, “What comes next to further strengthen marriages?” This project answers this question with a process-based Bible study that, because of its design, strengthens the marriage relationship with improved communication, conflict resolution, and increased overall marital satisfaction (the three measures of this project). This methodology includes weekly individual study, couple discussion, and small group interaction.
Through the use of pre- and post-course surveys, the couples who participated in a study of Galatians provided ample quantitative research that yielded group, couples, and gender statistics. The couples’ data was measured by Positive Couple Agreement (PCA), which identifies couples’ responses as a relational strength when they choose the same response or are within one choice of each other (4 [agree] or 5 [strongly agree] on a positively worded statement, 2 [disagree] or 1 [strongly disagree] on a negatively worded statement).
The researcher designed Galatians: True Freedom – A Small Group Study for Couples to implement the new methodology to be evaluated. The quantitative data based on the pre- and post-course surveys provided the means to prove whether the three measures strengthened the marriages of the participating couples. The data supports the veracity of all three hypotheses (improved communication, improved conflict resolution, and increased overall marital satisfaction), showing strong growth in each measure, most notably with communication. These results led to the research conclusion: Yes, the methodology used in this eight-week, small group-based Bible study course for married couples developed for this applied research project did strengthen the marriage relationships of its participants.


Derek Wilson D.Ed.Min.
The thesis of this project argues that ethical education for too long has been a matter of principled approach built upon justice while neglecting moral development research of females through the works of Carol Gilligan. Bioethical education is best done in a balance of justice and relationships channeling both the works of Gilligan and Lawrence Kohlberg. By engaging with the people most affected by bioethics, those who are disabled, students are able to build empathy through case studies and thus make better informed ethical decisions. This project centers around a curriculum written for high school students studying bioethics. It lays out a groundwork for a theological basis for Christian education in bioethics as well as provides curriculum for the course.

Intergenerational faith education through death and preparation education

Seongyong Lee
Death is a place where everything appears. No one can hide before death or demonstrate oneself. Hence, it may be more fearful. In the present age, we try to forget the word, death. Christianity, however, has constantly been speaking of beating death, and even more so than victory, it has been talking about the work bearing new fruit through death. The modern church has told such words of salvation but has not accepted into its heart – where a place to accept faith. The author tries to find the following in his ministry setting: the reason why we must think of death, a new perspective of seeing death, experiences facing death, a life of self-denying and carrying one’s cross through participation in death, and the biblical teachings of productive death as a grain of wheat falls into the earth, dies, and bears much fruit.

[Note about entry: Abstract submitted to the Atla RIM database on behalf of the author. The text appears in its entirety as it does in the original abstract page of the author’s project paper. Neither words nor content have been edited.]

Confirmation, Community, and Commitment: Evaluating Church Attendance at the Episcopal Church of St. Mary, Albuquerque, New Mexico

James W. Hunter D.Min.
his work studies the phenomenon of individuals dropping out of active church membership after confirmation. The positive approach adopted to examine this issue is through Appreciative Inquiry. Rather than trying to "fix" a problem, this paper studies what is good in the current confirmation preparation program, discovering how those good elements can be improved, and the importance of community in retaining members. The problem is analyzed through Holy Scripture, the Great Tradition of Christianity, and the experiences of eleven parishioners who have matriculated through the confirmation process and remained active in the life of the Episcopal Church of St. Mary, Albuquerque, New Mexico.

Authority of Scripture in Today's PC(USA)

Peter David Jones D.Min.
For this project, a small group of dedicated adults studied the Authority of Scripture using historical, theological, confessional, and experiential methods seeking to better understand scriptural interpretation and application to daily life. Of specific interest, the group ended with a case study of scriptural approaches to the topic of homosexuality, seeking to understand how biblical interpretation affects daily life.

Below is an excerpt from the project report:
"Too often, clergy treat some information gathered in seminary as secret knowledge reserved for those deemed worthy enough to obtain it. This must emerge from either too high an opinion of oneself, too low an opinion of congregants, or an addiction to the power of knowledge, but the end result has been a highly educated clergy speaking to relatively ignorant congregants. This, of course, is no indictment of congregants, but rather a commentary on the ineffectiveness of clergy in appropriately and clearly providing people with the tools necessary to grow in their faith; to grow beyond the children’s sermon understanding of the Bible itself. This project is one example of ways in which the clergy can engage with congregants on a more level playing field, trusting in their abilities and Spiritual maturity to guide the process of learning. I have often heard it said that people enter seminary with strong faith, have their faith shaken, then emerge even stronger than when they entered. Why do we not believe that congregants can and should follow that same pattern in their faith journeys?"

Teaching church history in the local congregation

Brent Klein D.Min.
Using Church History: An Essential Guide, by Justo Gonzalez1 as the primary text and by means of a Bible study, study guides, and presentations on various historical events, over a ten-week period, the participants were led through a brief study of the twothousand-year history of the New Testament Church.

The purposes of the project are to 1) teach the participants significant events of the Church’s past beyond what they have learned from Acts, certain events of the Reformation era, and the events that have occurred in their lifetimes; 2) help them see that God has guided the events of history for the benefit of the Gospel and His Church; and 3) help them find assurance and guidance from how the Church has dealt with issues in the past as they deal with current issues in the Church.

On the parish level, the teaching of God’s Word and the Catechism is first and foremost. In addition to that, it is also worth considering teaching some church history to the laity. God’s people can derive guidance (and along with that, assurance) from the events of the Church’s past and the lives of Christians who came before.

A Study of the Exegetical Conversational Bible Study for Spiritual Growth and Formation in Korean Immigration Church Small Groups

Hyunkee Bae
The purposes for this dissertation are to investigate the small group for the efficient Bible study to impact on spiritual growth and formation and to suggest a practical and efficient teaching method for organizing and operating small group Bible studies that can help the churches implement effective Bible studies. To accomplish these two goals, the exegetical conversational Bible study, which is a small group and interactive Bible study, was conducted at two Korean immigrant churches in the United States. Two surveys and group interviews and individuals were implemented. As a result, this project concludes that the exegetical conversational Bible study positively influenced the spiritual growth and formation of the participants in the small group.


Bruce Burkholder D.Min.
Although independent Baptist pastoral training institutions have served the
Spanish-speaking church in Latin America for decades, most have become stagnated in academic development and institutional advancement. The purpose of this study was to develop a strategic plan that will encourage these institutions to pursue an accreditation model. This study identified five impediments to this pursuit.

1. Insufficient academic preparation of professors

2. Excessive government restrictions

3. Poor economic situation in country

4. Lack of interest/Lack of knowledge of benefits

5. Low academic level of students

This quantitative data was obtained through a Delphi survey of twenty-two individuals from three distinct subgroups: (1) Independent Baptist missionaries actively involved in pastoral training in Spanish-speaking Latin America, (2) Independent Baptist Hispanic pastors or professors who were trained in Latin America and who retain involvement in this ministry, and (3) Independent Baptist theological educators who have experience with the accreditation process. Through the Delphi survey the participants suggested the above-mentioned impediments to the pursuit of an accreditation model. The Delphi expert panel also provided qualitative data by sharing additional insight into the nature of the impediments through comments made within the survey and personal conversations with the author.

Once the five impediments had been identified a Delphi support team worked with the author to develop a strategic plan to address each impediment. Specific goals were set, and action steps were identified. Most importantly, the strategic plan encourages independent Baptist pastoral training institutions in Spanish-speaking Latin America to promptly initiate and to passionately pursue the core concepts of the accreditation model, specifically, the standardization of curriculum, external peer review and internal quality assessment.

The project concludes with recommendations to independent Baptist churches, ministries, and pastoral training institutions in both the United States and Spanish-speaking Latin America.


Worku Yohannes Gebre D.Min.
This thesis-project discovers educational leadership values, knowledge, and skills that can contribute to the increased effectiveness of Capuchin friar school principals at Capuchin Schools in Ethiopia. Furthermore, the study attempted to suggest some sound and effective methods of communicating those discovered values, knowledge, skills, and educational leadership training to Capuchin friar school principals. Though Capuchin friars school principals succeeded in some aspects of school administration, they faced several challenges due to lack of educational leadership knowledge. Therefore, in the global culture where values, knowledge, and skills are rapidly changing it’s important for friars to attain an in-depth educational leadership knowledge. Additionally, they should understand education from Christian and human values perspectives within Ethiopian context.
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