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Russell Hart D.Min.
This Doctor of Ministry Project researched six pastors in Western North Carolina to see how they balance administrative duties and evangelistic efforts to produce a healthy church. The project began from my experience of pastoring three churches in the area and experiencing the struggles firsthand. It then looked into the Scriptures to understand the historical accounts and theology of administration and evangelism to comprehend the responsibilities of pastors. Further research was conducted from literature to evaluate what others say about the subject and if they have discovered this problem.

The data was collected through qualitative research of interviews with six pastors. The interviews were conducted with ten questions to discover how they balance administrative duties and evangelistic efforts as a pastor. The interviews were analyzed and synthesized from their experiences, theology, and literary viewpoints for the conclusions.

The research results showed a problem among pastors who have administrative demands on them because of the expectation of the congregation or the lack of others willing to take responsibility. The research also showed that evangelism efforts fail to reach the community because of the heavy administrative load of the pastor. The final results show, pastors that do have a balance, revamped or updated how administration is done, to simplify it for both him and the congregation. The process of updating the administration did require time for trust to build between the pastor and the congregation. The results prove a significant need for pastors and churches to work together to simplify the administration and intentionally reach the community with the gospel to produce a healthy church.

Embodied Spiritual Practices for Brown and Black Bodies Exploring Sabbath Rest

April Rae Gutierrez
“Embodied Spiritual Practices for Brown and Black Bodies Exploring Sabbath Rest” addresses spiritual formation, discussing an approach to Sabbath Rest for healing and restoration that is countercultural on personal and societal levels. Through a retreat, participants engaged in embodied spiritual practices that promote rest as a tool for spiritual formation and transformation that is rooted in decolonizing theology and spiritual practices. Working in collaboration with The Board of Young Peoples Ministry and the Hispanic /Latino Ministry of the Michigan Conference of the United Methodist Church, the retreat model was reviewed by the committees for use in the work of spiritual formation for Black and Latinx Young Adults. The implementation of this project and retreat shows that culturally relevant spiritual practices that honor Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC) stories and spiritual practices may deepen the encounter with God and relationships with participants within the retreat setting.


Miles Anson Hanbury D.Min.
This project seeks to address the problem of a lack of experiencing the presence of God in church services by exploring the history and theology of God’s presence in worship and constructing a four-week sermon series at Christ Church, Lake Forest, IL aimed at helping people invite, expect, and experience the presence of God in worship. Drawing on data from eighteen research participants, several key lessons were learned about ways church leaders can modify worship services to engage congregants more deeply. Among them are creating quiet space for reflection, giving explicit permission to engage God, and giving various opportunities to engage God.


Dawn Spies D.Min.
The time between pastors can be a season of renewed focus on God’s actions in the life of a congregation. Walking through this interim time can also be colored by stress, grief, and frustration. Intentional interim ministry (IIM) provides a congregation with a trained and experienced guide to help a congregation discern God’s leading and prepare well for their next pastor. Communicating the need for and benefits of IIM to Lutheran Congregations in Mission for Christ (LCMC) associated congregations provides targeted options for congregations addressing an upcoming pastoral vacancy.

LCMC’s congregational polity and mutual accountability calls association staff and pastors to provide resources, support, and best practices for congregations entering a time of pastoral transition. An introductory presentation and facilitator training were created, taught, and evaluated with the goal of equipped intentional interim pastors to facilitate the presentation for LCMC as requested.

The facilitator training and an example of the introductory presentation were evaluated using two questionnaires. To further refine these tools, LCMC leaders with experience working with congregations in pastoral transition were invited to participate in a semi-structured interviewed. The initial training, evaluations, and interviews identified strengths in the introductory presentation where common questions were addressed, clarifying the need for and benefits of IIM, and reminding congregations that transition is a natural part of life in the church. Unaddressed questions were also identified. While the facilitator training was useful, the erroneous assumption that a brief training session for facilitators would be sufficient preparation to meet any congregations, including conflicted and anxious congregations, was identified. Overall, training pastors to facilitation an introductory presentation was successful, and a refined version of these tools could be utilized within LCMC to communicate the need for and benefits of IIM to congregations entering a time of pastoral transition.


John Michael Barefield D.Min.
This Doctor on Ministry project created a training program to train small group leaders to lead the emerging adults for Trinity Church of the Nazarene in Charlotte, North Carolina. This project shared the concerns of the church in losing emerging adults after they graduate from high school. The project explored the concerns of the emerging adult generation. The literature research included the writings of Chap Clark, Kara E. Powell, David Kinnaman, Corey Seemiller, Meghan Grace, Pew Research, and others.

This qualitative research project focused on how to train leaders to lead a small group of emerging adults. This project was conducted in three phases. The first phase presented in a six-part sermon series to the congregation. The second phase interviewed emerging adult participants. The third phase trained small group leaders to lead emerging adults.

This project helped the congregation, and small group leaders, to have a better understanding of emerging adults. The small group leaders gained confidence in leading emerging adults. The pastor learned to be sensitive to the needs, interests, and values of the emerging adults in his congregation.

Resting to Preach: A Biblical—Theological Evaluation of Rest Toward the Preparation of Sermons

Stephen Trent Thomas M.Div.

Resting to Preach: A Biblical—Theological Evaluation of Rest
Towards the Preparation of Sermons

This project will argue that, because deliberate rest is restorative to the intellect and to creativity, and because preaching preparation is a creative and intellectual endeavor, preachers should intentionally incorporate deliberate rest into their sermon-preparation process. The writer will explore the biblical basis for rest using six passages of Scripture. Genesis 2:1-3 and Exodus 20:8-11 will establish the importance of Sabbath rest. Psalm 19 will describe rest as one experiences nature. Matthew 11:25-30 will reveal the rest Jesus promises to those who are weak and heavy-laden. Mark 6:30-44 will develop the rest Jesus provides to His followers when they become overwhelmed with ministry. Hebrews 3:18-4:13 will explore the rest promised to the obedient.
The writer will present research from scientific sources. Rest, Why You Get More Done When You Work Less by Alex Sooing-Kim Pang, The Wandering Mind by Michael Corbalis, In Praise of Slowness by Carl Honoré, and The Secret World of Sleep by Penelope Lewis are the sources that will reveal the value of sleep to the intellect and to human creativity.
The writer will survey Christian authors to provide biblical insight into the value of sleep. These books are Saints’ Everlasting Rest by Richard Baxter, The Rest of God by Mark Buchanan, The Art of Rest by Adam Mabry, Subversive Sabbath by A. J. Swoboda, and The Ruthless Elimination of Hurry by John Mark Comer. These authors accentuate the necessity of rest for the follower of Jesus.
The project’s goal is to help preachers improve their preaching by adding various forms of rest during their sermon-preparation process.


Joel Howard D.Min.
Grace Lutheran Ministries in Menomonee Falls, Wisconsin, strives to affect both its congregation and community through ministry. As ministry grows, it is essential for Grace to implement a strategy for developing leaders and deploying them into ministry. This major project focused on the essential nature, culture, and strategies for empowering leaders from not just the paid staff but from among all of God’s people and then developing them in areas of character and competency. The project also focused on the importance of alignment in the leadership development process.

The project utilized three research methods. First, a Biblical, theological, and literary study of leadership development was done in the areas of character, competency, and alignment. Second, questionnaires and a focus group were used to understand the current view of leadership development and alignment among Grace’s leaders. Third, the nominal group technique was utilized to brainstorm key ideas and strategies for the leadership development strategy.

A strategic plan was developed that began with creating a leadership culture around the unified use of language through leadership principles. Then, four strategic goals were created to develop, deploy, and debrief leaders at Grace through the use of small groups, coaching, and large group settings. Finally, the effectiveness of the leadership principles and strategic goals were evaluated by Grace’s senior staff through a SWOT analysis.

Incarnational Preaching: The Three-Perspective Model of Timothy Keller

Joseph Chihyu Huang D.Min.
This project will demonstrate how Timothy Keller applies the three-perspective model (biblical, situational, and personal) to deliver his sermons, thereby providing effective expository preaching and quality pastoral ministry. Keller’s methodology for preaching is Christ-centered, text-centered, compassionate, exegetically sound, and pastoral. He applies some elements of text-driven preaching. This project chooses twenty of Keller’s sermons from the Old and New Testaments in three different genres (Story, Poetry, and Epistles) to examine his preaching model. This project’s primary goal is to enhance pastoral ministry’s effectiveness through preaching, particularly in moments of crisis and tragedy.

John M. Frame’s Perspectives on the Word of God and Vern S. Poythress’s Symphonic Theology shape Keller’s three-perspective model for preaching. Both of them argue that applying multiple exegesis perspectives helps deliver absolute truth and relevant application in the different contexts of the audience. Keller’s preaching methodology can be named “incarnational preaching” because Christ’s incarnation and ministries are evident in all these three perspectives.

The result shows that Keller applies almost equal emphasis to both biblical and situational perspectives in his sermons. Sometimes he applies more emphasis to the situational perspective than to the biblical perspective so that the modern audience could comprehend and apply biblical truth to their lives. Additionally, Keller’s personal view takes less than 14 percent of his sermons. It shows that his personal experience and preferences do not dominate his sermons. Keller is willing to share his weakness and get involved with the audience. He shows his compassion for the suffering and expresses his passion for the Gospel. Keller is like a friend of the bridegroom to show that Christ is the center of the entire wedding because “he (Christ) must increase, but I must decrease” (John 3:29-30).

Keller demonstrates how to balance, integrate, and unite biblical, situational, and personal perspectives in his preaching. By observing Keller’s sermons, preachers could find that utilizing Keller’s three-perspective model helps explain the text and capture the whole picture. Preachers could learn from his methodology and examine their sermons for these three perspectives to enhance pastoral ministries.

A Pastoral Approach to Preaching Difficult Texts

Brian James Lays D.Min.
This project proposes that preaching difficult texts with pastoral sensitivity can produce edifying sermons, proving useful certain texts of the Bible which have been excluded from the lectionary and thereby written off as irrelevant or even harmful to the Church. Six challenging biblical texts, from Genesis, Exodus, Psalms, Isaiah, Matthew, and Acts, none of which appear in the Revised Common Lectionary, are presented to a focus group for study and feedback. Utilizing data from the focus group, a sermon will be prepared from each text, and the focus group will evaluate whether or not each sermon proved the challenging biblical text useful.


Steve Tomlinson D.Min.
This major project, Breaking Free from Personality-Driven Ministry, investigates the tendency of pastors of evangelical churches to develop a cult of personality around their ministry. The project considers the biblical mandate to pursue humility, exegeting both narrative and didactic passages from the New and Old Testament, and then considers secular and Christian literature on the topic of humility and leadership. The field research includes qualitative and quantitative data seeking the perspectives of both clergy and lay leaders on what effective, humble leadership should look like and evaluates the responses in light of the biblical material and literature studied. The conclusion of the project is that humble, non-personality-driven church ministry is not only possible but should be pursued in a context of team leadership, accountability, and personal disciplines. Central to the project's findings is the need for a leader to nurture and pursue a gospel-focused vision.
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