Church (Ecclesiology)

To Be Churched or Unchurched: The Millennial's Dilemma

Author
Robert J. Phillips D.Min.
Abstract
This project will address the decline of the millennial generation’s church attendance within the 08033 zip code during the past decade. There are times a church can have the appearance of being a successful church, but the zeal of both the clergy and the respective congregation is slowly diminishing. The older generation continues to do their best to keep the ministry viable and alive to some degree, but at the same time, a younger generation, many times made up by millennials does not see the importance of the communal aspect of church other than what occurs on Sunday morning. It is becoming more obvious that that we are dealing with a generation of believers that are not like our parents or grandparents. Tradition appears not to be the millennials calling card. We will show that millennials love God, not just the church service that has stood for decades. Today’s church must provide opportunities for them to serve based upon their needs for church and commitment. The statistical data was gathered by the author of this thesis through several one-on-one discussions with the clergy of the five surveyed churches and with several millennial residents of the town of Haddonfield, New Jersey. Examples in the ministry of the apostle Paul were gathered from the MacDonald Believer’s Bible Commentary by William MacDonald and A Theology of the New Testament by George E. Ladd.

IDENTIFYING COMMON CHALLENGES FACING LEADERS IN THE SECOND GENERATION OF LARGE CHURCHES TO FORTIFY HOPE COMMUNITY CHURCH DOWNTOWN (MINNEAPOLIS)

Author
Cor M Chmieleski D.Min.
Abstract
The purpose of this project was to identify common challenges facing leaders in the
second generation of large churches. This was the reality of Hope Community Church
Downtown (HCC DT) in Minneapolis, MN at the time of this paper’s formation. Specific areas
of challenge which have been explored include growth from small to large and transitions in
leadership between generation and senior leaders. The fortification of the church depends on
building an accurate list of common challenges that can be later addressed by church staff and
leadership.

The process utilized to accomplish that purpose included robust biblical and literature
research followed by interviews with seven pastors serving in churches similar to HCC DT. The
initial research led to a preliminary list of challenges which were then utilized in interviews to
determine their relative validity within the lived experiences of pastors. Analysis of the research
and field work revealed five significant findings churches must address for the sake of long-term
endurance: (1) Answer the question, “Who are we today?”, (2) Address unavoidable realities, (3)
Foster the following, (4) Protect against these, and (5) Achieve success in pastoral succession.
Each of these is explained and illustrated with real-life examples from within local churches.

Upon completion of this project, a list of common challenges was presented to the elders
and staff of HCC DT. It was then their responsibility to read, discuss, pray, and respond to the
challenges addressed herein.

The Role of the Family-Equipping Model in Church Planting and Replanting Training for the Calvary Family of Churches in Englewood, CO

Author
Franklin Samuel Trimble D.Ed.Min.
Abstract
This project focuses on the combined efforts of the family ministry movement and the replanting movement in equipping current and future planters and replanters in family ministry. In the project, the reader will be given biblical, theological, historical, and ecclesiological examples of what a healthy family ministry can look like. This project is meant to encourage and equip future and current ministers, especially those with few resources, as they seek to develop a healthy family ministry culture in their contexts. Churches can see healthy family ministry established in their midst regardless of the number of resources at their disposal.
Throughout the project, the reader is given biblical instruction regarding the primacy of parental discipleship in relation to the biblical instruction of children. This primacy is made even more specific when the project addresses the role of the husband and father in the home-discipleship process. The project then looks to Hebrews 3 & 10 to address the need for all ages of the church to meet regularly. Once the biblical and theological groundwork has been laid, the project then moves into a section in which the history of modern youth ministry is examined in contrast with the historical precedent of family worship. Ecclesiological matters are then discussed in detail such as the importance of intentionally limiting church calendars and the need for a plurality of elders that can lead a congregation in meaningful membership which then leads to accountable shepherding.

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.

TOWARDS A STRATEGY OF GOSPEL GROWTH FOR CHURCHES FACING THE CHALLENGES OF MINISTRY & MISSION IN COASTAL CONTEXTS IN SYDNEY

Author
Richard Wenden D.Min.
Abstract
Churches in the 21st century find themselves in a post-Christian context, and the ongoing challenge for ministry teams and their congregations is how to adapt to this changing landscape with the accompanying cultural shifts. Churches in suburban coastal contexts face a myriad of challenges, especially the lifestyle that comes with living in what are deemed to be ‘destination’ suburbs. This Project is an attempt to consider these challenges afresh against the biblical and theological backdrop of the church’s mission, in line with God’s mission in Scripture. It explores these challenges through the lens of the Bible, 1 Peter in particular, where Christians are very much ‘in exile’.

The Project shows how an understanding of cultural movements and demographics, the importance of contextualization as a way of engaging people with the gospel, and how a shift in the church’s thinking towards adopting a ‘Third Place’ posture enables us to show people what real gospel-oriented community looks like. Ultimately it seeks to offer some ways forward along the lines of embracing an urban spirituality, helping people to see how the gospel can ‘reorder their disordered loves’ as they are pointed towards Jesus, and how more intentional training in discipleship and evangelism might equip congregations to be a faithful presence in their spheres of influence.

This Project focused upon congregations along Sydney’s coastal fringe. Through interviews with ministers of Anglican churches at the ‘coalface’ and by utilizing qualitative data, the goal is to assist churches that have historically struggled in coastal contexts to formulate strategies enabling them to be missionally effective, through a renewed approach to ministry planning. It is hoped this planning may bring significant, gospel-based, long-term impact on individual church members and the churches, to bring blessing to their suburbs, gospel growth to churches, and glory to God.

From Ecclesial Ruin to the Blessed Hope: The Connection between John Nelson Darby's Ecclesiology and His Dispensational Theology in His Sermons

Author
Stephen Mark Fulmer D.Min.
Abstract
The author examined how the preaching of John Nelson Darby demonstrate a correlation between his ecclesiology and the formation of his dispensational theology. A total of 15 of Darby’s sermons were reviewed within the context of five eschatological themes: (1) the ruin and apostasy of the church, (2) a call to separation and holiness, (3) the blessed hope – Christ’s soon return, (4) the coming eschatological judgment, (5) the church as the bride of Christ. The author concludes that Darby’s sermons are an important resource that reveals that his ecclesiology and his eschatology are developed in a profoundly interconnected manner and reinforce one another.

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

Author
Erwin Samuel Henderson Dr Ph.D.
Abstract
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.

OPEN WOUND, OPEN TABLE: A THEOLOGICAL EXPLORATION OF HOLY COMMUNION AS PRACTICED BY THE BORDER CHURCH/LA IGLESIA FRONTERIZA

Author
Seth David Clark D.Min.
Abstract
This study explores the Border Church, which worships across the San Diego-Tijuana border fence at Friendship Park, and how its weekly bi-national, bilingual, nonsectarian communion service, intersects with the lived realities of its borderlands congregants. Through participant-witness ethnography of my congregation and five semi-structured, open-ended interviews, I examine how God is experienced in Christian practices, especially communion, at the border wall. I conclude that borderlands experiences are not monolithic, which counters false groupings of and “othering” tropes about migrants, deportees, and activists. I also theologize about unity amid division and how to make the bread of the table even more open.

Overcoming Obstacles to Churches Planting Churches

Author
Brent Frederick Burckart D.Min.
Abstract
The thesis of this dissertation is that existing churches can successfully overcome common obstacles to planting new churches when church leaders learn to adopt three vital practices: communicating a compelling vision for church planting to their congregations, cultivating a spirit of bold faith within their congregations, and implementing a sustainable church planting strategy for their congregations.

The literature review will survey some of the key literature and research on church planting generally and on the mother-daughter model of church planting specifically. Using the case study method, three churches that have successfully overcome obstacles to develop an ongoing rhythm of planting daughter churches will be analyzed through interviews and surveys. From the findings of these cases, applications will be drawn to assist other churches seeking to regularly plant daughter churches.

The Baptized Community: Community Formation as Seen through Anglican Baptismal Ecclesiology
and the Liturgical Practice of Morning Prayer

Author
Kyle Norman D.Min.
Abstract
Beginning with The Book of Common Prayer, the first version of which was published in 1549, Anglicans have mediated their spirituality through participation in a common spiritual life. This is to say, formation toward Christlikeness is not to be understood as an individualized process whereby the individual grows in Christlikeness in an isolated and privatized manner. Rather, formation toward Christlikeness is a Spirit-led process that primarily occurs within the community of faith. The baptismal community is the very context of Christlike formation. This portfolio looks at communal formation through three, integrated components. Firstly, communal formation, along with its various components and nuances, will be described through an appeal to the Anglican baptismal liturgy. Secondly, scenes from the author’s own autobiography will serve to illustrate how communal formation may be practically experienced. Lastly, the author’s own research into the practice of Morning Prayer will highlight the importance of shared liturgy within communal formation. The portfolio argues that one is not formed individually, rather one is called to participate in the formation of the community. This is seen as occurring through immersion in shared liturgy, embodied action, and evangelistic mission.
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