Congregations

A STUDY OF THE SUNDAY ATTENDANCE PATTERNS OF COMMITTED SYDNEY ANGLICAN CHRISTIANS

Author
Antony Barraclough D.Min.
Abstract
This project researches the present-day Sunday church attendance patterns of committed Christians within the Sydney Anglican context. The project seeks to establish the veracity of anecdotal comments by pastors that the regular member of the church attends church either two in four to three in four Sundays a month. From there it seeks to determine the reasons this group of believers give for absenteeism and thereafter to respond biblically and pastorally to those reasons. A tool by the way of a short paper with the main findings of the project will be made available to laity and clergy alike to assist them in dealing with this issue.

UNDERSTANDING AND CONTEXTUALIZING THE MARKS OF HEALTH AND ITS OBSTACLES IN SELECTED BRAZILIAN EVANGELICAL CHURCHES BASED ON THE TRANSFORMATIONAL CHURCH CRITERIA

Author
Sergio Queiroz D.Min.
Abstract
This major project was designed to understand and contextualize the marks of health and its obstacles in selected Brazilian churches, using the Transformational Church criteria. The report began with a theological and missiological foundation about church health and missionality, composed by a storyline of the most important reflections on church growth and mission over the last fifty years, from the Church Growth Movement until the Missional Church Conversation, with emphasis on the Transformational Church.

Following that, in order to understand and contextualize the Transformational Church marks of health into the Brazilian church, the cultures of Brazil and the US were compared in search of how the cultural constructs of power distance, individualism/collectivism, uncertainty avoidance and others can work either as obstacles or facilitators of health and missionality in Brazil. The last part of the project was in-depth interviews with senior pastors of forty-five churches from different denominations and regions of Brazil about leadership practices, evangelism, worship, prayer, local and global missions, small groups, involvement with the city, assimilation of new believers, as well as about the hindrances those churches face in order to be healthy and missional.

The main conclusions of the research were that the Transformational Churches in Brazil show similar marks of the American ones: they discern the context with a missionary mentality, embrace the values of vibrant leadership, relational intentionality and prayerful dependence, and engage the right actions of worship, community and mission. However, the Brazilian Transformational Churches have to face major obstacles to be healthy and missional, especially the teachings of the Prosperity Theology, financial problems, and the lack of commitment of their members to the mission of God.

All things in good order: how senior pastors experience the Carver Policy Governance System in their congregations

Author
Timothy J. Brand
Abstract
The purpose of this study was to explore how Senior Pastors experience the implementation of the Carver Policy Governance Model in their congregations. Every Christian congregation has a system of governance, an agreed upon method to administer and manage the day to day operations, and exercise the ministry in good order. Many congregations and pastors face great challenges and unrest because of church governance issues. This issue is critical for pastoral health and longevity, as well as, congregational vitality and viability.
This study utilized a qualitative design using semi-structure interview with seven pastors from various denominations who served their congregations as senior pastors for ten years or longer. The literature review and analysis of the seven interviews focused on three key areas: the implementation of the Carver Policy Governance Model into the Congregation, the unique advantages of the Carver Policy Model, and the unique challenges of the Carver Policy Model.
This study concluded that there are eight components necessary to implement a policy based Board of Directors as the governing body of a congregation: outside resourcing, biblically based content, special pastoral character, full implementation of the Carver Model with the addition of an elder’s board (or its equivalent), clear separation of the administration and spiritual components, a high level of relational trust, a continual use of evaluation, and the implementation of teams.

Preaching and Pastoral Care: Helping a Hurting Church Heal and Move Ministry Forward

Author
Curlee Lamont Adams D.Min.
Abstract
This thesis project focuses on preaching and pastoral care and its ability to help bring healing to a church hurting in the aftermath of issues that originated from previous pastoral leadership. In the black church context, such issues and the resulting hurt experienced by congregations have become almost normative, and the means by which it has been addressed is limited at best. People who have suffered from betrayal, hurt, and loss are often told to “let go and let God.” The perpetuation of this has often taken place from the pulpit, which should be a place from which the good news of Christ’s unending grace is preached. It is the effort of this writer to show through contextual practice how the integration of preaching and pastoral care can help churches overcome hurt in order to move ministry forward.

STUDYING THE IMPACT OF INTRODUCING A FOR-PROFIT SUBSIDIARY TO A LOCAL CONGREGATION

Author
Bradley Scott Stagg D.Min.
Abstract
This doctoral research project studied the impact of introducing a for-profit subsidiary to a local nonprofit congregation. The study reveals congregational leaders experienced emancipatory feelings of hope and spiritual agency when utilizing the innovation tool of a business Miniplan. Liberating congregations from the oppression of financial scarcity freed church leaders to consider new ways to address increasing costs, particularly deferred maintenance of aging buildings. This project used Participating Action Research as its research orientation, since it is ideal for business and church research. All participants reported significant spiritual growth in stewardship; emancipatory feelings of hope; and generalizability for the larger church.

Apostolic Women Religious in the United States and Their Legacy

Author
Janice J Brown O.P. D.Min.
Abstract
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.

A Study for the Unity of Congregation from Diverse Faith Traditions: An Early Morning Prayer Program Based on Wesley's Sermons

Author
Min Kwak
Abstract
: In this thesis, I seek the way in which all church members who are consisted in the Methodist and the other denominations can be unified as one body of Christ under the identity as the Methodist. For this purpose, a project is carried out that is early morning prayer meeting for forty days, which is performed with the theology, life of John Wesley and his standard sermons. For forty days, a variety of members as the different denominations and ages are participated. After this program, I take a survey via questionnaires and interview for ascertaining the meaning and the influence of this project. The participants testify, through this early morning prayer meeting, that they can experience spiritual growth. Furthermore, I assert that this project is crucial because of establishing the identity as a Methodist to the congregations from the other denominations as well as even the Methodist.

Study of Small Church Growth and Independence: Effective Operation and Renewal Through the Kwanglim Church SALT PLAN

Author
Soonjung Kwun
Abstract
During the revival period of the Korean church there was no need for a special church planting strategy or plan. As the number of churches and pastors increased, problems such as overpopulation of large churches and competition between ministers started to occur. Thus, a number of problems arose. This paper, with the theological consideration that God wants the mission of the Church to be the growth and independence of different churches, addresses how the SALT PLAN, the small church growth and self-reliance program organized by Kwanglim Church, can be developed more effectively and provide practical help.

"CIRCLE-STYLE PREACHING" TO EMPOWER THE VOICE OF THE CONGREGATION ON THE PATHWAY TO RACIAL JUSTICE AND RECONCILIATION

Author
Vincent R Nyman
Abstract
This study considers a style of preaching appropriate for a culturally diverse congregation situated in an impoverished urban setting. Recognizing that there are many facets to preaching, i.e., preacher's persona and theological skill-set, this study attempts to settle on a localized operative theology of preaching. A preacher's operative theology involves the preacher's specific influences that shape his/her preaching. Some of these influences stem deep in the historical past, particularly to the Enlightenment, and eventually splintering in various directions. Yet, there are contemporary emphases that can dictate a preaching style, emphases that energetically affect congregations along the spiritual pathways of healing, liberation and reconciliation. This localized operative theology of preaching finds restorative justice programs as an agreeable partner. Restorative justice, as an aboriginal cultural contribution, stands against Western-style notions of justice, especially intent on punishment for offenses. Restorative justice programs, assuming the form of a Circle model of dialogue, are designed to help participants heal and empower each other. Circles are founded on the principle that social wounds are not isolated events. This idea that crimes are connected to systemic problems characterizes a shift that leads to greater community responsibility in the healing process. The mutuality regarding the partnership between preaching and Circle models involves a pedagogical strategy in that both ministries reinforce each other. Circles could continue the preaching conversation, empower a congregational preaching voice, help connect the preacher and the congregation, shape a communal theological reflection, help concretize theology, and help dismantle alienating ideologies by encouraging authentic feeling and positive values. This Circle resource prevents an individualist pedagogy in regard to preaching in favor of the team concept. In this team concept, the congregation helps shape the persona and theology of the preacher, while the preacher's focus concerns the authentic "preaching" voice of the congregation.

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

Author
Steven J Masters
Abstract
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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