Church and social problems

Creating a Narrative Empathy Among Southern Baptist Leaders: Shaping a New Perception of Islam, the Prophet Muhammad and Jihad

Author
Charles Wesley Powell Dr. D.Min.
Abstract
The Southern Baptist denomination is the largest Protestant religious group in the United States. Since the terrorist attacks of 9/11 there has been an increase of negative rhetoric among Southern Baptists towards Muslims. This thesis-project asks to what extent a lack of narrative empathy towards Muslims can be altered in the life of the Southern Baptist leader thus enabling the leader, consequently the denomination, to better understand and communicate the teachings of the Prophet Muhammad as embodiments of spiritual discipline and peaceful living. The theoretical framework and in-depth qualitative interviews provide invaluable insights into the dynamics and use of anti-Islamic rhetoric among Southern Baptists. Concrete strategies of action are proposed, such as strategic personal encounters between Southern Baptists and Muslims which when combined with a better understanding of Islam can help uncover the Southern Baptist denominations preconceived prejudices and misunderstandings of Islam that so often hinder constructive dialogue. This project has crucial practical implications that has not yet received scholarly attention.

UNDERSTANDING AND CONTEXTUALIZING THE MARKS OF HEALTH AND ITS OBSTACLES IN SELECTED BRAZILIAN EVANGELICAL CHURCHES BASED ON THE TRANSFORMATIONAL CHURCH CRITERIA

Author
Sergio Queiroz D.Min.
Abstract
This major project was designed to understand and contextualize the marks of health and its obstacles in selected Brazilian churches, using the Transformational Church criteria. The report began with a theological and missiological foundation about church health and missionality, composed by a storyline of the most important reflections on church growth and mission over the last fifty years, from the Church Growth Movement until the Missional Church Conversation, with emphasis on the Transformational Church.

Following that, in order to understand and contextualize the Transformational Church marks of health into the Brazilian church, the cultures of Brazil and the US were compared in search of how the cultural constructs of power distance, individualism/collectivism, uncertainty avoidance and others can work either as obstacles or facilitators of health and missionality in Brazil. The last part of the project was in-depth interviews with senior pastors of forty-five churches from different denominations and regions of Brazil about leadership practices, evangelism, worship, prayer, local and global missions, small groups, involvement with the city, assimilation of new believers, as well as about the hindrances those churches face in order to be healthy and missional.

The main conclusions of the research were that the Transformational Churches in Brazil show similar marks of the American ones: they discern the context with a missionary mentality, embrace the values of vibrant leadership, relational intentionality and prayerful dependence, and engage the right actions of worship, community and mission. However, the Brazilian Transformational Churches have to face major obstacles to be healthy and missional, especially the teachings of the Prosperity Theology, financial problems, and the lack of commitment of their members to the mission of God.

Spiritual Care for Missionaries within the Ministry Context of Make Way Partners

Author
Milton R Smith
Abstract
Spiritual Care for Missionaries Within the Ministry Context of Make Way Partners is the report of a research project. The objective of this project was to study the spiritual care of missionaries within the ministry context of Make Way Partners (MWP). The ministry context of MWP is to prevent and combat human trafficking. The context of this project was in the country of Sudan, in and near Darfur.

In particular, the study addressed the possibility that the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator might aid the leadership of MWP in predicting how missionaries might respond to stress in the field. Also, the project provided an opportunity to find a tool to help evaluate those missionaries who experience trauma due to the stress of the field. Additionally, this project gave an opportunity to reflect upon the mission strategy of MWP.

THE INTEGRATION OF HIGH SCHOOL STUDENTS SERVING AMONG FAMILIES IN HOMELESS CRISIS FOR TRANSFORMATIONAL MINISTRY

Author
Scott Mills D.Min.
Abstract
This project explored the transformational growth of high school students who served children in homeless crisis by implementing a pilot program at the Fort Wayne Charis House. The findings revealed student growth in three goal areas: greater cultural understanding, greater appreciation for life situation, and greater motivation to serve. The project explored biblical foundations and the causes and consequences of families in homeless crisis. It also examined similarities between “service learning” in the public schools and integrative ministry. Through this program, students built critical thinking skills, positive relationships, and a sense of responsibility as they engaged in serving their community.

Congregational and Nonprofit Social Service Agency Partnership to Move Families Experiencing Intergenerational Poverty Toward Self-Sufficiency Using a Two-Generation Approach

Author
Kendra R Grams
Abstract
The author researched how a congregation could partner with a social service agency to empower families experiencing intergenerational poverty toward economic self-sufficiency using a two-generation approach. The author led a three-year pilot partnership, evaluating program effectiveness using both quantitative and qualitative metrics, and incorporating lessons learned throughout program implementation. Client families built skills and achieved numerous goals while engaged with the program. Program evaluation suggests the following elements advance program effectiveness: clear expectations of client families from the outset, focus on support practices that empower client families, and robust coordination of support provided to client families by all partners.

Preaching for Prophetic Witness Inspiring a Black Middle-Class Congregation to Engage its Marginalized Community

Author
Richard D Shaw
Abstract
Following the Civil Rights movements of the sixties, many Black preachers turned their away from prophetic preaching, and despite the critical need, chose not to preach sermons addressing social injustice during Sunday morning worship services. As a result, the Black church, in many cases, has become irrelevant on social issues that affect the communities where they are located. This thesis project addresses the requirements for preaching prophetically during Sunday morning worship to a Black, middle-class congregation, and aims to show that preaching for prophetic witness can be used as a means of inspiring a congregation that identifies itself as Black middle-class to reach out fully to its marginalized community.

Proclaim The Message (NRSV, II Timothy 4:2a: Preaching A Sermon Series on The Nicene Creed Taking into Consideration the Seasons and the Scripture Lessons of the Church Year

Author
Andrew H Zeman
Abstract
The purpose of this project was to present to the author's congregation the content of the Nicene Creed by means of a series of Sunday sermons. This project was based on the premise that theology is critically important in dealing with life's problems and in dealing with the universality of death. The project consisted of twenty-eight sermons preached over six months. The author's hope was that by hearing these sermons, his parishioners would have a deeper appreciation of the Nicene Creed. He believes that he did achieve his main purpose, but he was not completely successful in accomplishing all that he had hoped to do in the parish.

Connecting Church and Community The Ministry of Presence as a Community Pastor

Author
Cynthia R Bolden
Abstract
This ministry project assisted a local church in going outside its walls into the neighborhood in order to connect with the community. A primary objective was to embody sacred presence in the community. Another objective was to discover principles, practices, language, and metrics for the ministry of presence. The project was rooted in the practices of table fellowship, spiritual formation, and engagement with the Other through invitational conversation, acts of charity, and hospitality. The project offers insight for implementing and measuring relational and community ministry, particularly with millennials; it also explores the role of community pastor.

African American churches and green ministry: African American church and community empowered through resolution of climate change and environmental racism

Author
Janelle J Thompson
Abstract
The central theme of this project is grounded in the assumption that prophetic preaching forms a Christian body with a prophetic consciousness and identity. In order for preaching to be profoundly transformational in the shaping of a faith community's identity, the prophetic preacher must recover an eschatological awareness and urgency. The goal of this project is to explore the matter at hand from the rich African American preaching tradition which has been a conduit of life to a community encircled by life-negating forces.

Kingdom outposts: a church-based theology of relief and development with a demonstration project in Haiti

Author
Dru A Dodson
Abstract
Relief and development (R & D) is best understood as a forgotten part of Jesus' gospel of the kingdom. A storied, church-based biblical theology of R & D traces the themes of God, His people, and His land through the scripture. The thesis is developed that the kingdom advances over the earth through the apostolic establishment of new kingdom communities, who function with a kingdom economics, i.e., kingdom outposts. Kingdom outposts are the locus of R & D. Haiti suffers extreme poverty in spite of decades of evangelism and conventional R & D. A R & D project in Haiti is assessed in light of the theology of kingdom outposts.
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