Christian education--Curriculum

Developing a Method for Growing in Intimacy with the Triune God Through Knowing, Being and Doing.

Benjamin Paul Vanderheide Dr. D.Min.
In this Research Portfolio, the author develops a method for growing in intimacy with God, through faith in Jesus Christ, empowered by the Spirit using the metaphor of a fruit bearing tree. The method is developed in three parts. The first part is a spiritual autobiography where the author describes his life in Christ: Seed (Life before Christ), Death (New Life in Christ), Rooted (Learning from Christ), Pruning (Suffering with Christ). The second part is a spiritual formation model exploring how we grow in maturity in Christ: we discover our true identity in relation to Christ (know), as we abide in Christ (be) by intentionally practicing spiritual disciplines, and over time, we bear the fruit of the Spirit in Christ (do). The third part is a research project that reproduces the knowing-being-doing model in the context of a spiritual direction relationship, where the participants are led to use their imagination in prayer. As the participants connect with God using their imagination, their experience of God deepens, and the fruit is a positive change in their relationship with God.

Between Two Worlds: Navigating the divide experienced by second-generation Chinese Americans in cultural identity development

Nathan Willems D.Min.
Identity development is fraught with difficulties, especially for children of immigrants (the second-generation). This thesis-project explored the possibility that embracing a Christian identity can help second-generation Chinese American college students and young adults navigate the potential difficulties between their ethnic and national identities. To help participants embrace a Christian identity and apply it to their cultural identities, a 13-week lesson series, Between Two Worlds, structured around the categories of believing, being, belonging, and behaving, was implemented. Participants took initial and final surveys to evaluate the efficacy of the lesson series in establishing the necessity of a Christ-centered identity and in providing a mental framework for identity development.

Rehearsing resurrection by practicing what we proclaim

Kim Louise Blocher
This project explores the ways in which we teach, preach, and think about the resurrection within a church setting. The resurrection is the foundational doctrine of our faith, and yet many pastors struggle with imparting his or her belief. A pastor's beliefs surrounding the resurrection may be at odds with the primary belief systems of the people in the pews. Or perhaps a pastor does not know what he or she believes. A vacuum is formed that gets filled with popular theology from books promoting a dispensational worldview, television or movies. Sermons often promote the notion of heaven without confronting what we really mean when we say, "I believe in the resurrection of the body."

The study presents the point of view that our understanding of resurrection can be opened up through attending to the gap between belief and practice. In other words, what does it mean in our lives today when we say we are a people of the resurrection? Can we think of ourselves as rehearsing resurrection right now? Toward that end a curriculum was developed for an adult study on resurrection, based on the shared praxis model of Thomas Groome.

The curriculum was found to be a tiny, first step in a re-shaping of the way a congregation apprehends the resurrection. Other necessary pieces are pastoral study and reflection, developing a theology of practices within the congregation, the importance of the funeral sermon in teaching about resurrection, theological imagination, and a willingness of the pastor to be forthcoming about his or her own beliefs.

I wonder : scientific exploration and experimentation as a practice of Christian faith

Ruth E. Shaver
“I Wonder…Gaining Wisdom and Growing Faith Through Scientific Exploration” is an intergenerational science curriculum designed to be used in congregations. The goal of this curriculum and the theoretical work underpinning it is to counter the perception that people of faith cannot also be people who possess a scientific understanding of creation from quarks to the farthest galaxies and everything in between. Deepening faith in God and growing scientific understanding of the world around us both begin with the statement, “I wonder…” With this phrase as the common ground between faith and science, Lady Wisdom (Sophia) serves as the guide for hands-on experiments as learners develop an understanding of scientific methods including observation, creating and testing hypotheses, and analyzing results. One original photograph of a fossilized dinosaur footprint is included in the curriculum with the express permission of the photographer, William D. Richards, who took it specifically to be used for this purpose. An analysis of the author’s contextual experience with the curriculum and similar programs, as well as the author’s personal understanding of what mature faith requires as a result of this work, follows the curriculum. There are two appendices: “Faith, Science and Technology Sunday Liturgy” for Sunday, February 7, 2016, produced by the author for “Worship Ways,” a supplemental service of Local Church Ministries of the United Church of Christ; and the author’s sermon for The United Church of Schellsburg United Church of Christ for the same Sunday, “Improbable But Not Impossible.”


Vernell Ross
The purpose of this ministry research project is to increase the knowledge of transurban discipleship at Jordan Missionary Baptist Church of Lancaster, Texas (JMBC). Chapter 1 illuminates the history and the ministry context of JMBC’s African American membership and the goals of this project. Chapter 2 provides an exegesis of three passages of Scripture (Luke 14:25–35, 1 Kings 19:19–21, and Philippians 3:17–21) that examine biblical principles regarding personal Christian discipleship along with a brief overview of the usage of μαθητής (disciple) concerning Jesus’ command to “go make disciples” in the Great Commission. Chapter 3 examines relevant scholarship that presents a rationale for transurban discipleship by exposing racial discipleship while espousing and embracing Black evangelical theology. Chapter 4 describes the project itself, recounting the content and training method of the specific curriculum used as well as the measure utilized to determine if project goals were achieved. Chapter 5 evaluates the efficacy of the project based on the completion of specified goals. Ultimately, this project seeks to equip Christians with an understanding and praxis of vital spiritual disciplines that aid them in becoming more and more like Christ.

Vernell Ross, D.Min.
Supervisor: Carl Bradford, Ph.D.
The Jack D. Terry School of Educational Ministries
Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, 2022


David Hockman D.Min.
This project is focused on the period of life known as emerging adulthood. Adolescents graduate from high school but then have a difficult time transitioning to adulthood. Emerging adulthood is not a generational designation like “Generation Z.” Rather, sociologists describe those age 18-30 as emerging adults. Young people in this age group are no longer adolescents, but they do not consider themselves full-fledged adults. Emerging adults face many challenges during this period in life in the areas of education, relationships, work, careers, living arrangements, and many more. They are looking for answers to questions such as: Who am I? Why am I here? What is life all about? These individuals need guidance in understanding their worldview, values, vocation, and personality and giftedness. Emerging adults need a decision-making paradigm to assist them in navigating the challenges and questions during this crucial stage in life.

A Contextualized Approach to Leadership Training in Jesus City Mission, Cameroon

Jerome Ebua Awah D.Min.
The goal of this project was to understand the approaches that should be present in a contextualized curriculum for leadership development at the Jesus City Mission (JCM), Cameroon. The need for an indigenous approach to leadership training contextualized to the Cameroonian African context, in contrast to the current adopted Western model was identified. This project developed a model for leadership training to prepare ministers for service in the rapidly growing JCM church. To reach this understanding, a participatory action research process incorporating qualitative data-collecting instruments was employed, interviewing and surveying of Ministerial Academic (MINACA) students and JCM stakeholders. A focus group of 8 participants was constituted, 10 MINACA former students and 25 current students were interviewed. Sixty questionnaires were administered to participants. We discovered that trainers must not only be qualified but must be conversant with the sociocultural realities of where training is taking place. Leadership training must be hands on. This information provided a foundation for the future development of various training processes in JCM and other Christian denominations facing similar challenges.

Developing a Biblical Response to the Providence of God and Natural Disasters at First Baptist Church of Collinsville, Mississippi

Wade Lee Ricks D.Min.
This project evaluated whether an introductory curriculum on the providence of God could equip a select group of First Baptist Church of Collinsville, Mississippi to respond biblically to God’s providence in natural disasters.

Chapter 1 introduces the need to reexamine the theology of the providence of God as a result of scientific discovery. Additionally, the project's thesis, rationale, purpose, methodology, and goals are also presented.

Chapter 2 presents the theological background with an exegetical analysis of three major texts detailing the foundation for the theology of the providence of God.

Chapter 3 outlines the project description, scope, design, and weekly progress report.

Chapter 4 presents the project analysis gathered from both a pre- and post-study survey.

Chapter 5 concludes with an administrative summary and suggestions for further implementation of the project.

Wade Lee Ricks, D.Min.
The Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, 2022
Supervisor: Dr. Thomas Kiker, Ph.D.

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

Richard Paul Grendahl D.Min.
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.

Educación teológica Pentecostal y su impacto en la iglesia local, en el contexto de la Iglesia de Dios de la Profecía en Chile

Sergio Cedeño González
This thesis analyzes the impact of Pentecostal theological education in the local church and the community, in terms of the fulfillment of the church's mission. This work focuses on the context of the educational programs of theological formation of the Church of God of Prophecy in Chile. The purpose was to verify how the local churches have been impacted by the Pentecostal theological formation programs and to find out if the pastors and members who participate in these programs have developed in terms of their spiritual life, preparation to serve and commitment to the local church and its mission. And at the same time to evaluate if the curriculum responds to the needs of the local church and the context where they develop the mission.

In order to achieve this purpose, I used documents and reports related to this topic, and interviews with actors involved in these formation processes. Secondly, I used the survey methodology, directed to about 60 students (30 pastors and 30 members), which allowed us to have a representative sample of the population to be studied.

I came to the conclusion that the majority of the students surveyed have experienced progress in their spiritual development and commitment to the local church where they serve, however a smaller percentage, but no less important, understands that important changes are needed in the approach of the curriculum.
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