Theology, Practical


Caitlin Thomas Deyerle D.Min.
With a goal of developing a new practice of mission to address the disconnect between a congregation and its surrounding community and engage the historical and ongoing limitations of mission practices, this project sought to engage the skills of pastoral care to create a relational focused practice of holy listening. A five-week Lenten Listening program was developed to cultivate this practice and use it to create a deeper partnership with local educators. The evaluation methods used were a survey of the congregational participants before and after the program, and in-person interviews with the educators following the program. The project addresses racial and socioeconomic differences between church and community as a primary barrier to mission partnership.

A Biblical Examination of an Ontological reading of Theology, in Trinity, in the [Christian] Believer and in Church

Erwin Samuel Henderson Dr Ph.D.
Ontological theology considered in some theological works, was given little significance as a primary theme. The thesis attempts to restore prominence and cohesion of an ontological construct, whereby function and structure, are the subordinate product defined by the ontological theological perspective. The effects are far reaching for theological definitions of the essential nature of the Trinity, the believer and the church; representing a paradigmatic shift in theological understanding, affecting profoundly the nature existential Christocentric Christianity.
The ontological theology of Trinity contrasts with the relational subordination, authority-submission proponents and opponents, in substance, in relationship and in function. The recovery of apostolicity as an ontological attribute of Godhead provides significant insight and cohesion to the ontological Trinitarian proposal.
The effects upon the believer ontologically are contrasted with the religious disposition and the positional judicial approach to salvation. The prototypical shift occurs in the Person of Jesus-Christ to an existential reality originated in Trinity and replicated ontologically in the believer. The nature of humankind is thereby reinterpreted giving definition to the “spiritual man” as the sole form of legitimate existence that is biblically normalized and warranted.
The ontological primacy provides an alternate construct to the historical structural understanding of church that has not changed since the early patristic period. The proposal emerging from this exegesis is a model of church: ontological and apostolic, originated, [re]sourced, and incarnate from the nature of Trinity, demonstrating undeniably that it is impossible for the Church of divine intent to exist outside of the three persons of the Godhead. Christo-centricity restores Church to the origin, source and 'telos'. Present day observations may exemplify distanciation of contemporary expressions of church from ontological definitions. A return to source represents a theological and ecclesiastic field of renewal to perpetuate in the coming years.

A Mentoring Program for Pastoral Interns at Calvary Baptist Church, Watertown, WI

Robert Loggans D.Min.
The rationale for this project emerged from a significant need to encourage, promote, develop and train young men preparing for pastoral ministry in the local church setting. While the college and seminary classroom experience is of great value, the practical application of such knowledge under the tutelage of an experienced pastor helps to complete the preliminary preparation for pastoral ministry.

God's call to pastoral ministry is unique and individualized; the call to serve is a call to prepare. The Apostle Paul invested much time in his young protégé Timothy. Paul eventually gave the following characterization of Timothy, "For I have no man likeminded, who will naturally care for your state." (Philippians 4:20KJV)

This project (1) states the purpose of investing in those preparing for pastoral ministry, (2) provides theological and Biblical rationale for internships, (3) looks at and considers contemporary literature on internships and mentoring, (4) explains the design and methodology used in the project, (5) develops a narrative of the course of the project, (6) And shares the outcomes and suggestions for intentional mentoring internships in the local church setting.

Several significant findings indicate that internships are vitally important in preparing for pastoral ministry. Those preparing for pastoral ministry often desire an experienced pastor to make a significant investment in their lives. I have found that many pastors deeply desire to share their life and ministry experiences with those who are younger. Mentoring takes time, flexibility and understanding as each individual preparing for pastoral ministry is special and unique. It is a delightful privilege and joy to have part in preparing students for ministry.

Baptismal Covenant and Antiracist Identity: A Phenomenological Study of Christian Antiracist Formation

John Matthew Weiler D.Min.
The purpose of this study was to explore the role of confession, repentance, and baptismal identity within the antiracist identity of four white Christians to further the work of antiracist transformation and organizing in the local church. The primary methodology for this work was exploratory, utilizing phenomenological, semi-structured, in-depth interviewing with a sample of four, white Christians at Eastern United Methodist Church in Michigan. The thesis was that baptismal identity, and the Christian practices of confession and repentance in the work of antiracism liberates white Christians to joyfully make space for all people to experience the liberating love of God.

Developing Better Interreligious Dialogue and Collaboration with Korean Muslims: An Exploration in Focolare Spirituality

Mi Sook Han D.Min.
This thesis-project focuses on fostering interreligious dialogue between the Korean Conference of Religions for Peace (KCRP), the most active interreligious dialogue organization in Korea, and Korean Muslim leaders who asked KCRP’s leadership to include Korean Islam as a member. This issue is still pending. The project seeks to develop interreligious dialogue between these two groups through an exploration in Focolare Spirituality, a spirituality of unity. Focolare Spirituality aims to promote universal fraternity and to achieve a more united world in which people respect and value diversity.
The project deals with four dialogues: dialogue with religious leaders who are related to this issue, Catholic Church’s teachings on interreligious dialogue, dialogue between religion and culture in Korean context, and dialogue with the Focolare spirituality in order to achieve the goal of mutual understanding and collaboration with Korean Muslims. This project concludes by offering a method from a spiritual perspective for a fruitful interfaith dialogue.

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.

From Reading To Preaching: Training First-Generation Korean-American Catholic Lay Ministers as Preachers through Online Sessions

The Catholic Church had a conflicting stance towards lay preaching in the past. However, lay preaching is feasible nowadays outside of Mass since the Code of Canon Law does not prevent the laity from preaching, and the Baptismal grace leads all the baptized to witness their faith. However, the laypeople still hesitated to practice the ministry. The researcher wondered if the lack of preaching education caused hesitation and decided to train laypeople to be preachers.
Six lay ministers and a layperson from a Korean Catholic church in Boston participated in the six-week online sessions. The researcher made fifteen instructional videos on focus and function statements and delivery of the sermons. Watching them, each participant submitted two drafts of their sermons and two preaching videos, and had two or three individual review sessions with the researcher, depending on his/her needs. The researcher measured each participant’s progress using the grading table of St. Meinrad seminary. The changes between the two grades from the first and the second preachings showed that the participants improved their preaching skills over the course of the training. The researcher found that preaching ministry was a teachable subject for the laity through online training.
To triangulate and assess the research outcome both qualitatively and quantitatively, the researcher also provided each participant with pre-training and post-training Likert-scale questionnaires and interviewed each participate using Watson’s five categories. In general, the participants appreciated the direction, convenience, and productiveness of the online teaching program. However, some participants pointed out cultural factors that would make the Korean and Korean-American congregation feel uncomfortable with the ministry. The researcher learned that he needs to study further and to strategize carefully in order to ease the cultural barrier when training future participants.

The Art of Finding Home: Creative Pilgrimage and Placemaking at Immanuel Baptist Church, Paducah, KY

Brittany Riddle D.Min.
By guiding participants to reflect on scripture and their life experiences through the creation of art in various mediums, this project was designed to teach a model of creative, theological reflection in order to provide artists at Immanuel Baptist Church in Paducah, KY with the opportunity to deepen their creative identity, to claim their identity as people who are created in the image of a creative and creating God, and to form meaningful community through shared, creative practices.

Participants gathered for seven weeks to visually and creatively reflect on themes of home and community in scripture as a way to practice creative placemaking. By sharing stories, practicing lectio divina, and creating art together, the artists were invited on an inward journey that encouraged theological reflection as an embodied, creative process rather than simply an intellectual exercise. At the end of the seven weeks, participants showed significant movement in the depth of their theological reflections as well as a greater sense of connection to each other and belonging within the congregation.


Thomas Hein D.Min.
The project identifies some of the ways Christians grow in maturity during times of suffering. During these times some Christians grow in maturity, while others experience a setback in their spiritual growth. This is a pastoral study, meaning that it is primarily concerned with observation and analysis of the discipleship process in the lives of Christian believers. The project evaluates true and false beliefs about God and spiritual life that occur during the process of suffering in the lives of New Hope Evangelical Free Church (Adel, Iowa) adult believers. Fifty-seven church members answered questions in a quantitative survey inquiring about their spiritual life before and after their time of suffering. Interviews were conducted with fifteen of the survey participants for more in depth evaluation of their spiritual disciplines, attitudes, and beliefs.

The study evaluated some false beliefs about God and spiritual life that Christians may develop during times of suffering. In addition, the study evaluated what true beliefs about God and spiritual life sustained believers during times of trial. Finally, the study evaluated what spiritual disciplines helped people move toward greater spiritual maturity during a season of suffering.

The practical application outcome of the study is a small group workbook entitled, A Journey through Suffering: Processing the Painful Experiences of Life. This resource is designed to be an exegetical devotional guide to help people reflect on their suffering in the context of a biblical metanarrative. Prayerful reflection will potentially lead toward maturing discipleship that glorifies God.

Rediscovering lament : a five week study to help recover a lost practice of the faith

Mark N. J. Charles
Knowledge and understanding of biblical lament has been all but lost in the 21st century western church. This loss is a costly one. What kind of engagement with sermons, liturgies, and bible study will help 21st century western Christians recover this lost practice? In this project, the author outlines a five week study experience designed to introduce participants to lament, and help them experience it using bible study, responsive prayer, bibliodrama, and song. Participants from five churches took part in the program. Their responses suggest that rediscovering lament is both possible and needed.

[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.]
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