Church work

Hospitality to individuals on the autism spectrum and their families

Susan Q. Claytor
In discussion with other congregational leaders around the members of their community, a growing population seems to be absent. The individuals and the families of those on the Autism Spectrum Disorder are not present in our worship services. This neuro-different population is not participating in communal worship, nor are their family members. It is time for intentional outreach to this important and tremendous segment of our general population. Anecdotal evidence shows that quite often the parents of children on the spectrum are worried about both the reactions and welcome their child might generate and receive, and the disruption their child may bring to the service. However, the strong theme of hospitality throughout scripture, including the teachings of Jesus, compel us to be welcoming and accepting. Providing some basic education to the congregations will increase the likelihood of a community that is able to truly welcome and embrace the individuals and families of those on the spectrum. Additionally, embracing all of God's children, including those who are neuro-different, brings new gifts and talents into the gathering and ministries of the organizations. Pastorally, all people are in need of safe places to worship, grow spiritually and to receive care and support. In addition, many of the normal activities and programs of worshipping communities will prove to be greatly beneficial to those on the spectrum, proving unintentional intervention simply by offering acceptance and interaction. This paper encompasses the theological implications of hospitality, provides a four week educational series for all members of the congregation, and has some helpful hints and understandings for those in leadership or who volunteer in various ministries where they may work directly with those on the spectrum.

An exploration of the relationship between combat and changes in Christian religious practices among World War II veterans

Timothy R. Reichard
Warfare not only taxes a soldier physically and psychologically but spiritually. For Christian soldiers having to take the life of others or witnessing the tragic death of friends brings challenges that may alter faith, beliefs and practices. This study explores the relationship between combat experiences and changes in Christian religious practices among World War II veterans. Six Americans and one German veteran were interviewed and asked a series of questions assessing the impact of war on their religious beliefs and practices during and following the war. The goal of the questions was to determine if there were changes in religious practices that resulted from: a previous practice taking on a new meaning in light of their experiences, a sense of thankfulness for having survived the war, or a sense of guilt for having killed another human being. Three areas of Christian practices were explored: practices related to church community, practices related to personal spirituality, and practices related to forgiveness of self and others.

The results demonstrated a number of things: warfare deepens Christian practices, there are spiritual costs and questions associated with war, there are spiritual experiences present that serve to deepen or reinforce faith, practices change as expressions of faith, and there is little time for reflection on spiritual matters during times of war.

The study has implications for understanding the struggles of faith that soldier's have during times of war and when they return home. It also illuminates that there are special considerations that need to be taken into account when providing pastoral care to veterans. Finally it offers suggestions for including veterans in the on-going conversation of warfare in general.

Developing a Manual for Multi-Ethnic Church Planting at Nations Church, Houston, Texas

Zane Buddy Brents
Houston, Texas, is a multi-ethnic city with a need for more multi-ethnic churches. As a result, Nations church Planting Network and Nations Church Houston have adopted a goal of starting multi-ethnic churches. This Doctor of Ministry Project aimed to research the field of multi-ethnic church planting to design a training e-manual for Nations Church Planting Network and Nations Church Houston.

This project was guided by the ministry research model as prescribed by New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary. Research goals included understanding the main key components for multi-ethnic planting and skill development for learning how to design a manual. This research project has increased the director's knowledge of multi-ethnic church starts and his ability to write a functional 3-manual. In the end, the research goals shaped the project outcome of a multi-ethnic church planting e-manual.

Desafíos y oportunidades para la iglesia hispana de tradición reformada en una era secular

Gianni Gracia
In this academic exercise, the author will reflect on and express his conclusions about secularism and how this phenomenon has influenced Hispanics once they emigrate and integrate into the culture of North American society. This exercise will also explore how this phenomenon impacts pastoral work, both positively and negatively, in the process of formation of Hispanic congregations within our context. And finally, the author will analyze the different scenarios and opportunities that arise to rethink strategies and models of ministry in accordance with the relativism and pluralism of today's secular society and within the context of the reformed influence on the reality of first-generation Hispanic immigrants. First, we must ask the following question: What does it mean that we live in a secular age? And consequently, how can secularism be defined?

A doorway to Mark : a commentary on Mark for lay people

Charles A Wiessner
The goal of this project was to produce this type of commentary for the first half of the Gospel of Mark. This commentary serves to create a door in the barrier between the Bible and lay people. The project creates a door so that people can enter into the world of the Bible. The customs, social life, religious practices, and other aspects of first century Palestine are explained in relation to the various pericopes in Mark. As people understand the world in which Jesus lived, they begin to understand the spiritual truths that Jesus was communicating.

The project also creates a doorway that allows the Gospel to enter into the lives of people today. As people understand the spiritual truths of Jesus' ministry, they begin to see how these truths can enter into their own lives. Suddenly they discover that God's word is a living word.

The commentary begins by using Mark 1:1 as the framework for organizing the introductory material to the Gospel as well as delineating the theological assumptions behind the commentary. The body of the commentary consists of twenty-two sections which contain the first eight chapters of Mark. the comments on each section of the Gospel are divided into two parts.

The commentary is designed for lay people. It was created within the context of a congregational Bible study, and was tested by a panel of readers throughout the denomination. The approach of the commentary, and the language used within it, are designed for lay readership. The total comments on each section can be read in fifteen minutes or less, which fits into the maximum devotional time most people alot each day.

Churches in conflict : a conflict management manual for church leaders

David P Breen
This four-unit manual is designed for church leaders as a guide to conflict management in the local congregation It discusses : 1) the theory of organizational conflict management, 2) the compilation of data from a study of how church leaders respond to conflict, 3) the relationship between self-esteem, power, anger, and conflict management, and 4) the biblical and theological themes related to conflict and conciliation.

Unit One defines what happens in a church conflict. Feelings about conflict, types of conflict, the elements of conflict, the patterns of conflict, and the important place of self-esteem in conflict response are identified here.

Unit Two reports the results of a survey of approximately 500 church leaders in the Reformed Church of America's Particular Synod of Michigan. This study measured the substance of church conflicts and the style of conflict response church leaders developed. A statistical analysis of the results identifies which of several variables affect the substance of conflicts and the conflict response of church leaders.

Unit Three explores the relationship between attitudes toward self-esteem, power, anger, and conflict management. These discussions form the basis for a formulation of skill development in conflict collaboration and conciliation.

Unit Four is a resource unit. Three Old Testament and three New Testament conflict narratives are discussed with attention given to identifying biblical and theological themes about conflict and its management. Other resources included in this unit are 1) an annotated bibliography of published resources, 2) a list of agencies who provide assistance in conflict management, and 3) a model of a two-part workshop on conflict management for church leaders.

A supervision model for pastoral training in interpersonal relationship counseling

Albert DeVoogd
Professionalism is an important component of contemporary occupations. It is especially important to the minister-therapist. The concept and its particular application to the ministry are discussed below.

In medieval Europe, the Guild provided a stable caste society within which human vocation was so much a part of self that it became a part of personal identity and self-concept. My family name, DeVoogd, is an illustration of such a time in history when one of my forebearers was a caretaker on a large estate, and he took the name of "keeper", voogd in Dutch, as his surname. This forefather described himself by the occupation that he held and even took his name from it. Today in our technological society, the mechanization of the concept of occupation has made it possible for a person to shift jobs easily in order to make a living. The work concept, while still a part of our thinking, is now considered as external to the self. Professionalism has emerged as the modern counterpart of the medieval occupational identity.

Let those who have ears : interpreting the Christian faith through sign language

Loren B McClanahan
This book is designed as a resource for persons who interpret the Christian Faith through sign language. It resupposes the interpreter has had basic sign language training. The work is composed of five chapters, a bibliography, and an alphabetical listing of the words found in the lexicon.

Chapter One discusses the author's own involvement with the deaf community of his parish; the need for better sign language training for those who interpret the faith in a worship setting; and the specialized vocabulary needed to interpret biblical, theological, and liturgical concepts.

Chapter Two presents a brief history of sign language, highlighting the major personalities and controversies which evolved over the past four hundred years; and the implications of that history for the interpreter in a religious setting.

Chapter Three looks at the role of an interpreter in a religious setting, with special consideration given to the ethics governing the exercise of this gifted ministry within the church.

Chapter Four presents approximately five hundred signs frequently used within the context of the church's worship. Each sign is accompanied by a definition; its etymology, if known; an illustration and verbal description of how the sign is executed.

Chapter Five introduces a series of "modifiers" which expand the basic lexicon. Some of these affixes are well known within the deaf community; others have recently been introduced in those schools which place great emphasis on manually coded English.

The five tools of team leadership : a collegial and collaborative leadership development process

Scott Christiansen
In every church all over the world there are teams of people gathered together around ministry that is core to their mission. Yet as vital as team ministry is to the church, a disheartening number of those teams end up accomplishing very little and either end their time together in frustration or continue in m ediocrity. While there are doubtless many reasons for this poor performance record, they often boil down to poor leadership of the team. Teams are vital to church ministry and leaders are vital to team ministry so it is essential for churches to train team leaders in skills that enable effective and encouraging leadership. Based on research, interviews and experience five characteristics of effective team leadership immerge: great leaders glow, great leaders love, great leaders vision, great leaders plan and great leaders coach. Training in each of these characteristics can help ensure that ministry teams in a church have the leadership they need to prosper. The 5 Tools of Team Leadership: A Collegial and Collaborative Leadership Development Process is a learning process designed around those 5 leadership characteristics and a small group of leaders lead by a coach or mentor. In group sessions and between group sessions the participants learn from each other and from a set of teaching materials that expound on those 5 leadership characteristics how to lead their ministry teams more effectively. The process absolutely depends on a group dynamic of openness, love and acceptance. The process invites the Holy Spirit to use the process to maximize the leadership potential of each individual.

Speaking the unspeakable : the launch of a church

Richard Russell Patterson

Launching a new church has been an expedition fraught with spiritual and psychological baggage; it' s not simply an act of compiling the right worship director and children' s ministries leader. An adequate understanding or at least appreciation of these spiritual and psychological issues is necessary to prevent damaging results for the pastor, congregation, and the world to which it intends to minister. However, with a proper appreciation of these issues, there exists the real possibility for developing a community of grace, hope, and healing in a world crying out for such a thing.

The issues presenting themselves include the role of narcissism in the development of the pastor and the congregation in our context. Particular attention should be given to the powerful weight this psychological phenomenon has on an institution such as the church in our culture. These issues go so far as to skew our right understanding of fundamental aspects of the church such as discipleship and evangelism.

Lastly, this issue of narcissism, left unrestrained and misunderstood, will ultimately affect that spiritual entity having authority over the church which comes to life at the intersection of a church and its Creator -- the angel of the congregation. Discerning God' s message to that angel has brought a sense of healing and empowerment to our community and a new sense of commitment to our collective call.
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