Commitment to the church

From Screens to Pews: A Research Project to Develop a Strategic Guide to Bring Virtual Worshipers to In-Person Worship at Northcrest Baptist Church, Meridian, Mississippi

Justin Wade Phillips
The purpose of this project was to research virtual worship strategies in order to develop a strategic guide to transition virtual worshipers to in-person worship at Northcrest Baptist Church, Meridian, Mississippi. The project director used the research model found in the current Doctor of Ministry Handbook from New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary.

This is a topic that has very little research on it currently as it is still a developing field of study in the church. It is, however, a field of study that has seen exponential growth because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Most churches, including Northcrest, went live-stream only for several weeks during the initial COVID-19 shutdown of 2020. Therefore, despite the relative dearth of research, there is a great need for understanding.

The project director did a wide range of research on this topic to better understand those participating in worship both virtually and in-person at Northcrest. In doing so, he created a strategic guide for reaching those watching virtually at Northcrest that could serve as a tool for other churches to try to do the same.

Celebrative Preaching to Increase Capacity in Service: Every Member a Worker

Andy S. Manzano D.Min.
Many pastors and church leaders face the challenge of getting most of the congregants involved in some aspect of ministry. This thesis project focuses on the use of celebrative preaching as a homiletical design to address this challenge. It presents details of the project, the ministry context, the homiletical approach, plans, processes, survey responses, as well as the outcomes that ensued while seeking to resolve this issue. It also explores some of the factors that contribute to this predicament and provides relevant advice on how to address it. It is hoped that the information contained in this thesis can serve as a useful source to all who are interested in rectifying this dilemma.

Development and Evaluation of a Program Related to the Liturgy of the Assembly Of God in Vila Velha, Brazil

Cidrac Ferreira Fontes D.Min.
The liturgy of a local church has a strong relationship with its identity. It is a fact that every church has a liturgy, and each worship service is liturgical, some more formal and others informal. Throughout a twenty-year pastorate in the same church, the researcher has noticed weaknesses with respect to the liturgy, and aspects of worship service (Commitment, reverence and participation).

The first objective of this research was to evaluate the level of understanding that believers in the Assembly of God Brazil have about liturgy and corporate worship. Another objective of the research was to develop a program related to improvement of various aspects of liturgy and corporate worship.

The literature review provided the necessary information for a better understanding of the meaning of liturgy and the value of corporate worship. This information provided the basis of the questionnaire and guided the researcher on the topic of studies during the seminar.

The researcher theorized a qualitative concept for each of the four hypotheses: a) Hypothesis-1: excellent; b) Hypothesis-2: good; c) Hypothesis-3: good; d) Hypothesis-4: excellent.

After conducting the evaluations and the seminar, the researcher identified the following final grades and concepts of qualities for the four hypotheses:
a) Hypotheses-1: Excellent – Final grade (4,5)
b) Hypothesis-2: Regular – Final grade (3,7)
c) Hypothesis-3: Good – Final grade (4,1)
d) Hypothesis-4: Excellent – Final grade (4,64)

Hypotheses 1, 3 and 4 had the result expected by the researcher. The hypotheses 1 and 4 had an excellent result and hypothesis 2 a good result. Although the hypotheses 2 did not obtain expected results, there was development. The statements that have assessed this hypothesis 2, suggested changes in the liturgy of the local church, this is a sensitive and controversial subject. The suggestion is for new evaluations and another seminar to promote changes on this hypothesis.

Case Study on How Spiritual Maturity Benefits Soldiers While on Overseas Assignments

Joshua A. Cannon D.Ed.Min.
As the United States of America pushes further and further into secularization, the U.S. Army has followed suit. While many see this movement as a step in the right direction, many others do not. It is without doubt the Army has always had its issues with discipline; however, it is the overall epidemic of suicide and other high-risk behaviors that has the attention of the entire nation, forcing many to ask why. While many have accepted the belief or ideology that belief in God is antiquated and irrelevant in today’s modern age, many others are beginning to recognize a rise in high-risk behaviors, especially within those serving overseas. A preliminary look shows that those who devote themselves to their faith appear to benefit in ways that cannot be denied.

This dissertation examines the overall benefits of those soldiers that are spiritually mature and are considered to have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. The author will attempt to take aim to understand and counter the ideology that religion and belief in God is antiquated and irrelevant in today’s society leading to the belief that service members ought to follow suit. While the Army takes great initiative towards the mental and spiritual health of the soldier, it is without a doubt that one area of influence is being forced out. It is the focused approach towards faith in God as a benefit to many areas of a soldier’s life that is forcibly quieted, seen as a personal journey not to be discussed, and irrelevant to the overall force. The purpose of this study will be to examine spiritually mature soldiers and begin to understand the benefits of a deep relationship with God while serving on overseas assignments.

Knowing God through Spiritual Practices and Spiritual Direction

Regina B. Proctor D.Min.
Knowing God through Spiritual Practices and Spiritual Direction sought to determine if using traditional spiritual practices, including lectio divina, silence, Centering Prayer, journaling with word and image, along with spiritual direction sessions, would create theosis, a deeper union with God, and keep people from leaving church. This project used action and qualitative method research through pre- and post-project questionnaires, an observation during a one-day retreat, and select reflections from spiritual direction sessions. The data collected suggested a more in-depth explanation of theosis and ongoing experience with the spiritual practices was needed to help participants experience a deeper union with God.

From Joseph to Zaphnathpaaneah: A Theory and Practice of “Starting from Scratch” for Pastoral Leadership in Immigrant Churches

Yan Kwong Joshua Yeung M.Div.
This paper is intended to explore Joseph’s life and career transformation. The phrase “from Joseph to Zaphnathpaaneah” includes situations like moving from his hometown to a foreign land, from having nothing to acquiring superior ability, skill, and maturity, thus accomplishing God’s plan for him, all "starting from scratch". When immigrant pastors come to North America and lead church of immigrants, they are, in a way, "starting from scratch". This paper further explores how immigrant pastors in churches of immigrants in North America can be a “Joseph” in their ministerial leadership by examining Joseph’s journey to become Zaphnathpaaneah, Egypt’s prime minister.

Engaging Millennials: The Quest to Revive their Participation and Commitment at Emmanuel Missionary Baptist Church, Gastonia, NC

Kimberly Moore
There are times when a church can have the look of success, but the zeal of that ministry is slowly diminishing. The older generation continues to do their best to keep ministry viable and moving, but there is a younger generation who does not see the importance of committing to anything beyond the Sunday morning experience. Through a series of Bible studies, sermons, outreach and moments of fellowship, this project engages the millennial generation and discovers ways to move them toward some level of commitment and participation within the Emmanuel Missionary Baptist Church, Gastonia, NC. It is becoming more and more evident that we are dealing with a different generation of believers. This millennial generation loves God, but they do not care for tradition or routine. They are more tasks driven than program driven. Therefore, we must provide opportunities for them to serve based upon present need versus long-term desire.

A church-wide emphasis, with preaching and teaching, provided the platform for instilling in members of Polkville Baptist Church a better understanding of the individual's role in the community of faith, the goal being that a greater percentage of...

Richard Lee Hamrick
A church-wide emphasis, with preaching and teaching, provided the platform for instilling in members of Polkville Baptist Church a better understanding of the individual's role in the community of faith, the goal being that a greater percentage of members take an active role in the church. The twelve-member research group was tracked individually, and the control group was tracked as a unit. Following the emphasis, care was taken to discover if there were more members involved in the life of the church than before the emphasis. There was a clear growth in understanding and in the number of active members.

Apostolic Women Religious in the United States and Their Legacy

Janice J Brown O.P. D.Min.
The legacy of Jesus has manifested itself among different populations, within different cultures, and during different times. This thesis-project looks at this manifestation as it unfolds as the legacy of apostolic women religious in the United States. The legacy of each participating congregation was described as a mission or more specifically as the mission of Jesus. It has also been the experience of these women religious that legacy is most tangible in the relationships and trust they built with their students, coworkers, and community members with whom they worked and partnered.
The legacy of apostolic women religious is a witness to the gospel message that took root as Christianity two thousand years ago. The thesis-project begins by exploring the legacy of Jesus, as well as the historical context that furthers God’s mission through the lives of three historical women – Hildegard of Bingen, Catherine of Siena, and Angela Merici. The research then flows into the brief history of the Ursuline Sisters in the United States. Reviewing the pre and post-Vatican II eras and their influence on religious life helps lay a foundation upon which apostolic women today have been formed.
The primary data was gathered through focus group discussions involving seven congregations consisting of thirty-five apostolic women religious. Their comments are summarized first by congregation in order to maintain the richness within each discussion, then by main themes, and concluded with a reflection on the legacy of these women as it finds meaning through the Gospel of John.
Legacy has many definitions, but what surfaced most prominently was legacy as ministry, and the ministries are what define the women. Legacy efforts included developing relationships, education, healing, inclusivity, and service. All of these works could be imagined as the ongoing narrative of the Gospels, epitomized in the Beloved Disciple.

Does providing small group worship to the homebound and chronically ill congregant reconnect them to their faith community?

Steven J Masters
The author, working with two congregations, visited with chronically ill and home parishioners and their family members, providing personalized small group worship services. The author measured the effectiveness of the process by conducting spiritual assessments throughout the study to see if the congregant felt that the visits improved their connection to their congregation and as a result of these visits felt better about life in general. What the author concluded is that the persons being visited were extremely grateful, welcoming, and encouraging to the persons visiting them.
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