Communication (Theology)

Equipping Rural Pastors in Zimbabwe to Practice John Owen’s Discipline of Mortifying Sin in Their Daily Life

Author
Stephen Douglas Skinner ThM
Abstract
This project introduced John Owen’s biblical discipline of mortifying sin to twenty-five rural pastors in Zimbabwe. These pastors serve the Lord in regions that limit their access to training and biblical resources. Through the implementation of Owen’s, The Mortification of Sin in the Life of the Believer, these men learned the biblical discipline of daily fighting against the tendency of catering to their residual sin. After they thoroughly read Owen’s work, and signed an agreement to participate letter, an assessment of their spiritual health was made and evaluated through the completion of a spiritual health survey. This was followed by attending a 32-hour seminar, where each man received a conference book. The material had been abridged and edited into a ten-session format. The course was taught at the Peniel Training Center in Hope Fountain, Zimbabwe. At the conclusion of the course, each pastor was asked to summarize this experience in an essay, and each received a certificate of completion.

THE DEVELOPMENT AND EVALUATION OF AN EIGHT-WEEK, SMALL GROUP-BASED BIBLE STUDY COURSE FOR MARRIED COUPLES SPECIFICALLY DESIGNED TO STRENGTHEN THE MARRIAGE RELATIONSHIP

Author
David Alan Shaffer D.Min.
Abstract
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.

An Experiment in Civil Dialogue in a Clinical Pastoral Education Group at Caromont Regional Medical Center, Gastonia, North Carolina

Author
Stephen Allen Lemons
Abstract
An Experiment in Civil Dialogue... was designed to create a setting for civil dialogue concerning homosexuality and Christian faith. The seven-week process involved eight daylong sessions with eight Clinical Pastoral Education students. Sessions focused on a study of biblical passages regarding homosexuality. Passages were examined from a traditional and progressive viewpoint. Six guests presented from a traditional or progressive viewpoint. Participants wrote verbatims and theological integration papers focusing on pastoral care to LGBT persons/families. Research methods included focus and control group and quantitative-qualitative research. Interviews, surveys and written reflections attest that the group maintained civil dialogue throughout the process. The group came to better understand and appreciate those who held views on homosexuality that were different from their own. The participants recommended using a similar form of group process in churches.

The Effectiveness of Utilizing Various Memory Cues in the Preaching Event at Sandy Plains Baptist Church in Shelby, North Carolina

Author
Garin Hill
Abstract
Every Sunday pastors across the spectrum attempt to preach in memorable ways. So if traditional wisdom is actually true – most churchgoers forget the sermon immediately upon leaving church – then does that qualify as memorable? While realizing no sermon lingers forever, this project explores ways to give the sermon a longer shelf life in the parishioner’s memory. Specifically, by utilizing picture, story, and object lesson in various sermons, this experiment conducted at Sandy Plains Baptist Church in Shelby, North Carolina, examines which memory cues (if any) are most effective in keeping the sermon fixed in the long-term memory of its hearers.

CAN YOU HEAR ME NOW? EFFECTIVE PREACHING IN A POST-CHURCH CULTURE

Author
Randall Dean Ahlberg D.Min.
Abstract
This project addressed the need for preaching principles that more effectively communicate to those living in the realities of our current cultural. In examining the sermons of the apostle Paul, it was evident that he significantly contextualized his message to his various audiences, demonstrating for all preachers the need to engage in not only good exegesis of the text but in good exegesis of the audience. The researcher attempted to gain a better understanding of the culture of the community surrounding his church in Andover, Minnesota and ways to communicate clearly to this culture. The primary tool used was a survey conducted at a community festival on church property. The survey was designed to measure the level of biblical knowledge of the participants and also to investigate the relationship between church attendance and the demonstrated levels of biblical knowledge. The assumption of the researcher was that preachers often assume their congregations know more than they do, and this assumption was proven to hold merit. Finally, in assessing the above information, a set of homiletical principles were developed that embrace both a commitment to biblical preaching and an awareness of the realities of post-church American culture. One of the conclusions of the author is that a neglected aspect of homiletics is our need to wrestle through the striking differences between oral and written communication styles. The preacher’s preparation must keep these dynamics in mind if he/she hopes to communicate the timeless truths of the Bible to a time-bound audience.

A STUDY OF THE USE OF SCIENTIFIC LANGUAGE BY GEORGE MACLEOD, FOUNDER OF THE IONA COMMUNITY

“What’s the matter? … matter is the matter!”

Author
Mitchell Bunting D.Min.
Abstract
A study of George MacLeod, founder of the Iona Community, and his use of language taken from modern physics. He responds to the dropping of atom bombs in 1945 and develops theological insight into the Incarnation of Christ. His words are recalled as pithy sayings and poetic prayers often associated with in his anti-nuclear campaigning in the Church and the House of Lords. The study draws on his published works including the Iona Community magazine Coracle and the documentary film Sermon in Stone as well as interviews with Iona Community members to assess the significance of his use of such language.

Preaching with the autism community

Author
Robert J Skinner
Abstract
The autism community in the Catholic Diocese of Memphis desires full inclusion in preaching and catechesis as both servants and consumers of the services available from the parishes within the diocese. Research on this thesis was conducted using qualitative analysis and a modified action research formula which allowed the researcher to canvas and assess both the autism community and the catechist-preachers involved in integrating the autism community more fully into the Body of Christ and the life of the Church. The autism community was surveyed with the community expressing both the need and the way forward to the fullest inclusion.

Talking the walk: how spiritual practices influence youth's ability to articulate their faith

Author
Jack L Mannschreck
Abstract
Talking the Walk is a participatory action research project that describes the introduction of spiritual practices to high school and junior high students with the intent of equipping them with a vocabulary that will increase their ability to articulate their faith. Through the 4-D (discovery, dream, design and destiny) process of appreciative inquiry the youth took part in a process of exploring their beliefs, their community of faith, their call to ministry and sense of hope. These four assents to faith, identified in the National Study of Youth and Religion (NSYR), serve as indicators of spiritual growth and maturation.

Preaching for transformation: developing sermons that aim at personal transformation

Author
Mark W Hanke
Abstract
Research indicates people who call themselves Christians and who listen to dozens of sermons each year are morally hard to distinguish from people who claim no faith in God and have no practice of listening to sermons preached from God's Word. It is God's intention to see his followers transformed into the image of his Son. One of the methods he has chosen to use to realize this spiritual life-change is the preaching of his Word. But preachers have to make sure they are committed to life-changing sermons and not merely an informational exchange. Sermons are meant to bring transformation, not simply inform people of what a biblical text is saying. This thesis-project will help Christian communicators understand how their preaching can align with God's vision to see people conformed to the image of his Son.

Recommunicating biblical narrative to post-literate Salvation Army congregations

Author
Carl E Carvill
Abstract
When William Booth founded the Salvation Army in 1860, he implemented innovative preaching and worship styles. They remain in use today. This thesis-project argues that the changing ecology of communication demands that Salvation Army preachers adapt to the current communications environment. The theology and praxis of revivalism remain malleable enough to serve the present age, and the grace reflected in the Army's social work outreach is easily understood, but a style of preaching stuck in Victorian rhetorical convention is ineffective. This thesis-project surveys the history of preaching within the Salvation Army and alternative ways to portray Scripture to listeners attuned to the electronic post-everything age. Research elicited feed forward and feed back survey responses from a congregation to whom a Salvation Army minister delivered sermons in modern style. The author concludes that training Salvation Army preachers to recommunicate biblical narrative effectively will enable them to communicate better to post-literate Salvation Army congregations.
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