Acting our way forward : the hope of the ascension for the leadership of the church

Jonathan A Ytterock
Christian congregations today live under the reign of the ascended Lord Jesus, who has been exalted to right hand of God the Father, lives to intercede for us, pours out his Spirit, and promises to return. Yet the reality of Jesus’ ascension is often dramatically undercelebrated, distorted, or dismissed. When this happens, congregations not only lose a key part of the Biblical witness, but also a key way of understanding their identity, calling, and hope. If the church today relates to Jesus as the ascended Lord, pastors and Christian leaders should be asking, what are the implications of the ascension for leading congregations to participate in the mission of God? In response to that question, this project places the doctrine and story of Jesus’ ascension in conversation with pastoral ethnography and the organizational theories of sensemaking and innovation as defined by Karl Weick and Clayton Christensen. Through this conversation, and by focusing particularly on the congregation of Mt. Horeb Presbyterian Church, I propose that the reality of the ascension – particularly Jesus’ incarnate exaltation, his intercession and gifting of the Spirit, and his promised return – gives small to average-sized mainline congregations stability in the present and resources to act and improvise hopefully into the future as they participate faithfully and contextually in the mission of God.

Keep it real : starting a Christian hip-hop service in a Reformed context

Reginald Smith
This project was designed to provide a working model of bridging the African American community and the Reformed faith. The gap between the community and church has grown wider because churches are using models of worship that are outdated and paternalistic for the Hip Hop generation.

Chapter 1 will provide a biblical and theological basis of "witness"as the prevailing symbol of being the people of God, who were saved to be a light to the nations.

Chapter 2 reports the history of Roosevelt Park Community Christian Reformed Church. I will give attention from the great beginnings of two churches to their eventual deaths, and their resurrection into Roosevelt Park Community CRC.

Chapter 3 records my own spiritual journey. My story will provide spiritual markers that has lead me from the Black Baptist church into becoming a minister in the Christian Reformed church.

Chapter 4 provides an analysis of the Hip Hop culture and its hold on the young urban generation today. What are the held values of Hip Hop culture? Can the Reformed faith provide answers to their questions about life, God and spirituality? The Reformed faith can speak to the heart, soul, and spirit of the Hip Hop generation.

Chapter 5 presents a preaching model that can reach the Hip Hop generation. Preaching is more than a single event, but part of the larger context of worship which seeks a multi-dimensional approach to preaching to the young people of the Hip Hop culture.

Chapter 6 sketches the "Keep It Real" service from an idea to the first worship service.

Chapter 7 reflects on what I learned in starting this service, with its mistakes and triumphs and what can others learn from this project for other urban Reformed churches.

Walking in water : nurturing baptismal identity through congregational worship

Catherine E Smith
How can congregations prepare our young people for the challenges of an unknown future? I came into this project with three assumptions: the key to preparing our young people for the future lies in identity formation; the identity that will sustain them in the unknown is the one given to them in Baptism; and the best opportunity for churches to shape and nurture this identity is through the ongoing, life-long experience of congregational worship. Thus, this project questions how identity is shaped, what identity the young people of our congregations are currently being shaped in, what the content of Baptismal Identity is, and how congregations can best shape and nurture that identity through congregational worship. Identity, the project finds, is shaped as practices and liturgies of the various cultures in which we live, work, learn, play, and worship inform our understanding of who we are, who our people are, and what our hope and purpose are. The project investigates the various cultures in which our young people dwell and the faith our churches are largely teaching them; and then claims that the identity these cultures and faith instruction are shaping and nurturing in our young people will not sustain them in the unknown challenges of the future. Following a broad study of Biblical covenant history, creation in the imago dei, new creation in Christ, the covenant family of God, and the call to live out God’s relational purposes and redemptive plan; I propose a definition of the identity our young people receive in the waters of baptism which will provide the solid ground on which they will need to walk in the unknown future.

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.

Equipping the Korean-American Families for Family Worship at Orange Canaan Presbyterian Church in Santa Ana, CA

In the 120 years of Korean immigration to the United States, there has been a history of much hardship and loneliness associated with settling down in a strange land and living life as an immigrant. For many immigrants adjusting to life in the United States, in which their children have had to adjust to life in a whole new culture, it is often the case that they have not been able to pay much attention to their children's lives. Now, these parents face the problem of communicating to and discipling children that have grown up in a completely different language and culture—having been assimilated to the culture and having been educated in the United States growing up with a completely different set of values from their parents' generation. As such, problems and conflicts within Korean immigrant families in the United States continue to grow. For Christians, the problems they face often find their children leaving their homes and leaving their churches. Unfortunately, this is the reality of the Korean church in the United States.

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.


Nathan Edwards D.Min.
The purpose of this project was to discover effective ministry methods for cooperating with the work of the Holy Spirit in the lives of followers of Jesus to nurture stronger affections of love, delight, and desire for God.

The author built the theological basis of the project from both Old Testament and New Testament passages that describe the role of affections such as love, delight, and desire, as well as anger and sadness in the lives of God’s people.

Jonathan Edwards, especially the Religious Affections, was part of the key literature the author drew from, looking also at a brief theological history around the theme of affections leading up to Edwards, with special attention on the Puritans. The author considered more recent spiritual formation literature regarding affections and spiritual disciples that nurture them in light of Edwards’s legacy.

The author conducted field research with ten participants around a series of eight meetings, utilizing a combination of biblically-based teaching curriculum and practical experiences of spiritual disciplines. Some adjustments were made for the COVID-19 health crisis.

The author identified meditating on God’s creation and candid spiritual conversations between followers of Jesus as the two most consistently effective disciplines for nurturing spiritual affections. Fasting also had a notable impact, especially associated with protracted time focused exclusively on God. The responses to biblical meditation, including scripture memorization and lectio divina, had a mixed reception from different participants. Participant responses highlight the importance of building the believer’s affection for God on God’s love for the believer and of finding expressions of adoration appropriate to the believer. The author concluded with some suggestions for implementing spiritual disciplines in the author’s congregation.

Equipping Selected Members of First baptist Church of Chickasha, Oklahoma, with Personal Worship Practices

Douglas Matlock
The purpose of this project was to equip selected members of First Baptist Church of Chickasha, Oklahoma, with personal worship practices. Using an equipping project model, the project director researched the field of personal worship practices. Using an equipping project model, the project director researched the field of personal worship and determined six best practices: prayer, bible study, meditation, praise, testimony, and service. He then developed a curriculum to equip the selected members of First Baptist Church of Chickasha, Oklahoma, with these six personal worship practices. Following a six-week format, the curriculum utilized a weekly group session based on a personal worship practice, followed by exercises and examples of expression of that practice. Coinciding with the curriculum, each selected member completed a pre-test and post-test, self-report questionnaire, and personal reflection as evaluations of the cognitive, psychomotor, and affective domains of learning. This project also served to increase the project director's knowledge of personal worship and his curriculum development skills.

The Effect of a Rule of Life on the Symptoms of Acedia at Church of the Epiphany

Stacey Timothy Tafoya D.Min.
The question that arises is how spiritual communities can be affected by the many
distractions of the modern world. Churches are not immune to the lack of “the ability
simply to be alone with our thoughts.” In fact, it would seem that the church, whose text
is the Bible, must go further to break through the endless distractions of the day to hear
the voice of God in the scriptures.
the church began a journey with international refugees when
twenty-five children and adults from the nation of Burundi came to church on a Labor
Day weekend. This started a mini-influx of folks from various parts of the world. The
church has discovered a new sense of purpose and excitement as there are folks present in
worship from five continents. The worship of Epiphany is also both ancient and future,
focusing on the best of classical hymnology and contemporary worship within the
worship of the Book of Common Prayer. In addition, there is also an emphasis on the
Bible as the pastor and the church seek to be Christ-centered and evangelical as well as

Measuring the Value of Guided Preparation on the Worship Experience at First Baptist Greenville, SC

Matthew Rollins D.Min.
Worship is a central part of the life of the church. There exists an understanding that the church will provide a time and space for regular, meaningful worship to occur, as well as an expectation that the people will attend and engage, open to an encounter with God, alongside their brothers and sisters in Christ. This study investigates the latter responsibility - that of the people to fully participate in worship that gives worth to God, listens to God, and responds to God. In this project, volunteers from First Baptist Church Greenville, SC, engaged with specially designed pre-worship guides to measure the value of intentional preparation for worship. The results of the experiment show that preparing for worship does in general lead to more meaningful worship.
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