Communication (Theology)


Brian Olson D.Min.
This project set out to examine and evaluate the use of first-person narrative as a possible alternative option to be included in a regular rotation for preaching in a public worship service. It also set out to examine the process of developing the sermon. It also set out to determine if it can be used to effectively communicate the biblical message to a post-Christian, entertainment-oriented culture without compromising its faithfulness to the message of Scripture?

The research was done on the Biblical and theological foundations of preaching to accomplish these goals. An evaluation of current literature on the subject was conducted. A system of evaluating existing sermons was developed and implemented. A sermon was produced and presented in the first-person narrative mode. Survey feedback was received from individuals who were present for the sermon. The surveys from the sermon produced for the project and the earlier evaluated sermons were processed to reach the goals and determine the proper steps for moving forward.

A key understanding derived from the study was that first-person narrative preaching is often mistakenly viewed as lightweight storytelling. The reality is that it is more work than a traditional sermon. It requires that same work for those sermons, but it also requires a heightened understanding of the Biblical story's cultural, sociological, and personal attributes.

Also learned was the importance of story as a means to communicate truth. We teach theology to children through stories, and these same stories can teach the truth to adults. In the west, we have become convinced that science and facts are the most important things and that these are the way to communicate truth. But in much of the world and history, story was the primary means of communicating truth.

Talking to Victims of Trauma Through the Lens of Atonement Theology

Ron Wymer D.Min.
Metaphors concerning atonement theology that are misunderstood, poorly defined, and clumsily communicated often lead to a mischaracterization of God to those who have experienced trauma or abuse. Theological scholars, local church leaders, and pulpit preachers have discussed and debated the correct way to describe Christ’s work of atonement. However, little concern has been shown when communicating atonement theology toward those who have been injured by trauma and abuse. This study aims to provide a platform for the abused to share their stories concerning their spiritual formation through the lens of their experience both with trauma and theological teaching by church leaders. The use of terms trauma and abuse are defined by the participants in the study albeit as broad or narrow as the participant determines by their own definition.

To test this hypothesis, a survey was distributed to the entire congregation of a medium-sized Mid-Western Evangelical congregation concerning their grasp of atonement theological terms as well as their perceived characterization of the God of their understanding, connectedness with others in the congregation, and grasp of theological terms relating to atonement theology. Following a four-week teaching series, a second similar survey was conducted to gauge movement in the areas of study. Additionally, all survey respondents were given the opportunity to privately schedule individual interviews with the researcher to share their insights and experiences with trauma and the church teaching on atonement theology. Church survey responses were scored by numerical averages.

The results showed a significant increase in knowledge of atonement theology and small increases in correcting characterization of God and connectedness with fellow believers in the congregation. The interviews reported a lack of meaningful interaction with most of the subjects instead it was reported creating their own view of God’s care, comfort, and leading through the traumatic experiences.

La educación teológica ante las nuevas tecnologías y su enfoque pertinente en las nuevas generaciones

Roy Rodríguez
This present research project carried out through the bibliographic modality and with a field research complement through the application of a research instrument called a questionnaire has as its essential purpose to make known the importance of the need to use social networks as an instrument of evangelization in this time of isolation and restrictions regarding personal social interactions. In the same way, to know the point of view of some ecclesiastical leaders concerning their points of view of the use of social networks as an instrument or transversal axis in the modalities of evangelization. Similarly, recognize that this research arises from the need that has led to isolation and social distancing due to the COVID-19 pandemic and the limitations that being able to carry out cults and other ecclesiastical activities with the usual openings have brought with it. As a result of this effect, it was necessary to investigate the level of understanding in the management of technological tools and social networks by the leaders and ministers of the congregations and thus know for sure if there was a ministerial body in the congregations conditions to carry out a task of evangelization through social networks and thus reach the largest possible number of new generations, which are very active in the use of new technologies as their preferred means of communication.

Body language : a lexical field guide for the body of Christ

Dennis B Smith
This project is designed to provoke new ways of understanding and using vocabulary familiar to the body of Christ so that the body as a whole and individual members of it might discover new avenues of hope, peace, and direction. "Newness of life" are the words used by St. Paul in Romans 6:4. The contributions of "Natural Systems Theory" toward unwrapping this Gospel promise are emphasized and explained in this project.

This project is intended to be a readable and useful aid to others in pastoral ministry as they seek to guide and coach their respective congregational systems in discovering "the peace of Christ" in the midst of everyday life.

Good news offered anew

Peter Van Elderen
This project is designed to articulate a theory of communication for preaching and teaching which will take into account the formidable changes in communication which have occurred in the last thirty years. This is an exploration of the preaching and teaching event especially as it applies to passing on the doctrines of the church using the Heidelberg Catechism. Particular study is directed toward contemporary thought in business, homiletics, and education as they impact content and style of communication in preaching and teaching in the church.

This project demonstrates that technological changes in a post industrial society do not deter the Gospel from being preached and taught in reasoned passionate testimony apprehendable to all who will listen. This project also reveals that the Bible is not without resource for changes in style of communication, but rather continues to offer a message applicable and critical for both life and death in contemporary society.

Let those who have ears : interpreting the Christian faith through sign language

Loren B McClanahan
This book is designed as a resource for persons who interpret the Christian Faith through sign language. It resupposes the interpreter has had basic sign language training. The work is composed of five chapters, a bibliography, and an alphabetical listing of the words found in the lexicon.

Chapter One discusses the author's own involvement with the deaf community of his parish; the need for better sign language training for those who interpret the faith in a worship setting; and the specialized vocabulary needed to interpret biblical, theological, and liturgical concepts.

Chapter Two presents a brief history of sign language, highlighting the major personalities and controversies which evolved over the past four hundred years; and the implications of that history for the interpreter in a religious setting.

Chapter Three looks at the role of an interpreter in a religious setting, with special consideration given to the ethics governing the exercise of this gifted ministry within the church.

Chapter Four presents approximately five hundred signs frequently used within the context of the church's worship. Each sign is accompanied by a definition; its etymology, if known; an illustration and verbal description of how the sign is executed.

Chapter Five introduces a series of "modifiers" which expand the basic lexicon. Some of these affixes are well known within the deaf community; others have recently been introduced in those schools which place great emphasis on manually coded English.

Story as theological form

Adam Navis

I have always been more moved—and to more lasting effect—by stories than by the sub-genres of non-fiction, including sermons, biblical commentary, philosophical argument, or self-help. I had this gut feeling that Christians should take stories more seriously, but I couldn’t articulate to my satisfaction why I felt this way. I wanted to know why stories capture our imagination. What does it mean to call a story a Christian story? And perhaps most importantly, how can we, as individuals and the Church, learn to tell better stories?

I began by studying the writing process. I compared popular Christian writers with students and faculty at Western Theological Seminary in order to understand the habits, attitudes, and beliefs of good Christian writers. Then I sought a way to develop these characteristics in other people. I did this by marrying the writing pedagogy of Peter Elbow with traditional Christian spiritual disciplines to create an explicitly Christian writing process. Only then did I move on to address the rhetorical, sychological, social, and theological aspects (and advantages) of the story form.

Yet the final, most important, and most vulnerable step was to put it all into practice: to write a story about what it means to be a Christian and a writer. This was not secondary or merely illustrative, but the inevitable conclusion of my work. After all, it would be ironic and hypocritical to celebrate the form of the story and then neglect to use its power.

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

Stephen Douglas Skinner ThM
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.


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.

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

Stephen Allen Lemons
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.
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