Bible--Old Testament

Developing a Text-Driven Preaching and Learning Culture at Redemption Hill Baptist Church in Albany, NY

Author
Robert Eloy Martinez D.Min.
Abstract
The purpose of this project is to develop a healthy text-driven preaching and learning culture among the disciples at Redemption Hill Baptist Church in Albany, NY. Chapter 1 introduces the ministry context and story of Redemption Hill Baptist Church, along with the overall goals represented in this project. Chapter 2 shows the biblical and theological support for developing a text-driven preaching and learning culture within the local church through an exegesis of three passages of Scripture (Ephesians 4:11-13; 2 Timothy 3:16-17; 2 Timothy 4:1-4). Chapter 3 presents historical and practical support for the need of a healthy church culture that is centered on text-driven preaching and learning. Chapter 4 moves to describe the actual project implemented, concentrating on the biblical content, and the teaching methodology within the course that was developed and taught over a twelve-week period of time. Finally, chapter 5 is focused on evaluating the project that was completed while also regarding the success of the goals implemented, along with any variations desired.

A Strategy to Develop Change Readiness for Succession Plans in a Post-Baby Boomer Era at First Baptist Church in Crowley, Texas

Author
Aaron William Summers D.Min.
Abstract
The Church is at a tipping point. Over the next five-to-ten years, decisions made by the local church will either prepare it for closure or seize the future for the Kingdom. The Western Church loses the second-largest generation when the Baby Boomers [Boomers] either die or become unable to continue attending and serving.
Is the church prepared? Is the church constructing a succession plan for when the Boomers are gone? The church will experience extreme shifts during this transition in leadership style, methodology, authenticity, polity, structure, and behavior. This project sought to understand the complexities of the coming generational transition and provide a starting point through the development of the change readiness of First Baptist Church [FBCC], Crowley, Texas.
The results of the project revealed an increase in change readiness for organizational succession planning after a sermon series designed to promote understanding and readiness toward change. These findings demonstrate that with proper biblical presentation and much prayer, the local church can be hopeful for the future.

The Heavens Proclaim the Glory of God: Science as a Way of Seeking God

Author
Richard Paul Grendahl D.Min.
Abstract
This study presented modern scientific theories along with Christian theological concepts to lead young people to a deeper understanding of their Christian faith. The project consists of four lessons covering The Big Bang Theory and Creation, Evolution and the Image of God, Centering Prayer, and World-Class Scientists who are devout Christians. The participants were surveyed before the lessons began; after the lessons were completed, as well as a month later to determine the effectiveness of the lessons. An evaluation of the project with recommendations for future use is included. A PowerPoint presentation for this project is included in the Appendix.

"Doing Theology”: A Phenomenological Exploration of Knitting in the Lives of Contemporary Mennonite Women

Author
Gwen Ann Gustafson-Zook
Abstract
This research project explores the theological meaning in knitting for a small group of contemporary Mennonite women. Using Interpretive Phenomenological Analysis, including a five-week focus group (Knitting Circle) and intensive interviews, the study validates knitting as embodied theological practice. This research expands understanding of “doing theology” to include making things as a means of embodied theology, thus adding breadth, balance, and substance to the experience of doing theology. The results of this study promote an understanding of lived theology that celebrates creativity and embodied practice as significant and realistic expressions of faith as well as a means of doing theology.

SHOULD WE CURSE IN CHURCH? APPROACHES FOR, BENEFITS OF, AND CAUTIONS AGAINST PREACHING IMPRECATORY PSALMS IN CHRISTIAN WORSHIP

Author
Scott Kenworthy D.Min.
Abstract
Scripture teaches that the whole Bible is God-breathed and useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting, and training in righteousness (2 Tim. 3:16). Yet one genre of biblical literature remains largely unpreached in the local church—the imprecatory psalms. Some notable church leaders have discouraged Christians from praying these psalms in private let alone utilizing them in corporate worship. But if all Scripture is the inspired Word of God, then the imprecatory psalms hold value for both the Christian life and the ministry of local congregations despite the difficulties they present. This project seeks to supplement the available theological literature by preaching the curse psalms in a local church and discerning their homiletical impact. The effect of the Word preached was measured quantitatively through a pair of congregational surveys as well as qualitatively through both weekly focus groups and self-reflection essays. The gathered data indicates a positive correlation between hearing sermons from the imprecatory psalms and 1) a Christian’s intimacy with God in prayer, 2) their appreciation for the power and effect of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, and 3) the local church’s commitment to confronting injustice. The data also raises concerns about potential negative outcomes when preaching the imprecatory psalms. Drawing upon both positive and negative feedback, the researcher offers guidance concerning homiletical approaches, spiritual benefits, and pastoral cautions when delivering sermons from these oft-ignored texts. The paper ends by applying the project’s findings to Miroslav Volf’s memoir Exclusion and Embrace, a theological reflection on having enemies, in hopes of tracing the initial contours of a pastoral theology of imprecation for the church.

Children of God in Prison Exile

Author
Tami F Hooker D.Min.
Abstract
Incarcerated men often feel abandoned by God. Those feelings of abandonment result in their avoiding the church even if they have been raised in it, in religion shopping or choosing their own understanding of and way of relating to the divine over any religion, and in overt religiosity, Implications of this are that the men no longer identify themselves as children of God as defined by the Christian faith. For some, it means they have no relationship with God or with the Church as a whole or the congregation within prison walls. This work takes a look at prison as exile and exile as trauma using the exile and the trauma that resulted from it as described in the Hebrew Scriptures for comparison. The intervention is a Bible study based on narrative theology that inmates from a state prison created and that I facilitated and evaluated in a county jail. The study is titled "Where was God?" It was created so men could hear stories similar to their own and recognize that those telling them are aware that God had been present in their stories and also explore where similar stories had occurred in Scripture. The authors chose ten topics to explore. They were: where was God when I was hurt, felt alone, felt ashamed, was afraid, was pretending, felt invisible, felt un-forgiven and was unforgiving, felt desperate and in despair. It concludes by asking where was God when I felt hope and when I felt love. The hope was that this would help the participants to see their own stories as part of a divine narrative, which would lead them to build a more authentic relationship to God and healthier relationships with others.

EXPLORING AND ADDRESSING THE INFLUENCE OF LOCAL AFRICAN TRADITIONAL RELIGION
ON SOUTH AFRICAN CHURCHES

Author
Tim Graham D.Min.
Abstract
This project seeks an understanding of issues related to African Traditional Religion (ATR) that bear upon the churches of the pastors attending a biannual conference on preparing exegetical sermons and to develop a theological statement to be used to discourage ATR from further infiltrating the local churches represented at the conference. The pastors, mostly from South Africa, participated in a Delphi research process that promoted individual input about each person’s encounter with ATR issues in the first round. This input was reviewed and prioritized by the participants in the second two rounds identifying the five most significant challenges of ATR to their local churches. The study concluded with a roundtable discussion intending to address the influence of ATR and whether a theological statement would be helpful in that endeavor. Because the environment being addressed was a pastors’ conference on exegesis, the goal was to influence the preaching of these pastors in a way that would address the influence of ATR. This final project goal found a low level of support and met with some resistance.

Encouragement for the small church: Equipping rectors for fruitfulness in the Anglican Diocese of Sydney

Author
Stephen Anderson D.Min.
Abstract
Of itself, church smallness is neither an anomaly, a mistake, nor a virtue. In God’s providence and design, small is normal, and may in fact bring significant strengths. However, no prior research has investigated the distinctive dynamics and challenges faced by rectors of smaller parishes in the Anglican Diocese of Sydney, and despite extensive training pathways there is very little leadership development that focuses specifically upon the small church. This mixed-methods research project integrates theological and sociological insights and discoveries in order to equip and encourage these servants of Christ to persevere in fruitful ministry over the long term.

This dissertation presents a complete biblical theology of fruitfulness. Coupling this to the “Robinson-Knox” ecclesiology imbibed by nearly all Sydney Anglican rectors, a “purpose-of-churching” scale is derived to help stimulate theologically consistent models of ministry. At the heart of this project, the Nominal Group Technique is used to generate a list of the Top 7 challenges encountered by a pool of experienced small-church rectors. In light of this robust list along with critical insights from the secondary literature, four follow-up interviews are conducted on location.

This pilot research project includes major findings in three key areas. The full, biblical definition of ministry fruitfulness protects and encourages the small-church pastor, especially when tied to the proper purposes of churching. A perceptive analysis of typical small-church culture arising from the secondary literature equips the rector to lead in ways indigenous to actual church size. At the heart, the Top 7 list of small-church challenges renders a “thick” diagnosis widely applicable by such rectors to their ministry settings. As this project concludes, a fresh, rigorous, semi-linear coaching framework for emerging and established rectors serving in small Anglican parishes is proposed for initial implementation.

An Analysis of the Cultural and Leadership Differences Among Leaders in the Chinese Immigrant Church in America

Author
Ke-Chiang (Albert) Li D.Min.
Abstract
The author Ke-Chiang (Albert) Li saw that in the 21st century, globalization is impacting all industries and almost all aspects of our lives. Chinese immigrant churches in America, like most organizations, are facing many challenges. One of the biggest challenges is how to deal with cultural differences inside the church. The differences are not only between ABC (American Born Chinese) and OBC (Overseas Born Chinese), but also among OBC who come from different parts of China and all over the world. Chinese immigrant churches losing young people and failing to reach ABC have been known problems for more than the past twenty-five years. Most books and papers use old Chinese culture to describe OBC culture and American culture to describe ABC culture to analyze the problems and try to help people to know themselves and to know each other. This approach has helped some of the churches, but it has also caused some confusion and issues when people use this to stereotype the OBC and ABC leaders in the church.

This project used a survey to investigate the cultural and leadership differences among leaders in the Chinese immigrant church in America. The result clearly shows that it is a mistake and will cause confusion when we stereotype ABC is American culture and OBC is Chinese culture. It is mixed up. Each individual have their own even in their same age group.

The author sincerely hopes that through Biblical truth and information from social science, the suggestions in this project report can contribute to finding successful ways to lead across cultures in the Chinese immigrant church in America and help develop Christian leaders capable of leading across cultures in the church and in the world.

Measuring the Effectiveness of Equipping Families Using a Sermon-Based Curriculum at Fellowship Bible Church in Jacksonville, Texas

Author
Graham Hale D.Min.
Abstract
The aim of this project was to measure the effectiveness of using a sermon-based curriculum to combat biblical illiteracy and equip family shepherds for the work of home ministry. The two focus groups for this project at Fellowship Bible Church of Jacksonville, Texas, were the Sermon-Only Group and the Sermon and Sermon-Based Home-Discipleship Group. The Sermon-Only Group listened to four sermons through the book of Zephaniah (selected because of its length, unfamiliarity, and gospel themes). The Sermon and Sermon-Based Home-Discipleship Group listened to the sermons and also participated in a four-week, twenty-lesson study on Zephaniah in the home. The two groups were tested on their retention and application of what was taught from the book.

The thesis of this project was that parents and children in the Sermon and Sermon-Based Home-Discipleship Group would retain more of the Word of God and more faithfully apply the Word when compared to the Sermon-Only Group.

Chapter 1 addresses the problem of biblical illiteracy while also introducing the thesis. Chapter 2 makes an argument in favor of home discipleship both biblically and historically. Chapter 3 makes an argument biblically and practically for sermon-based instruction, introducing and explaining the effectiveness of using sermon-based curriculum in the home. Chapter 4 explains the preparation for and execution of the ministry project at FBC of Jacksonville. Chapter 5 includes a report on the findings from the project. In this chapter, the project director evaluates the strengths and weaknesses of the project and what he would do differently in hindsight.
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