(Re)Discovering the Joy of Ministerial Priesthood: A Spiritual Journey in Continuum

Thomas Philip D.Min.
This study identifies a pathway for the spiritual journey, particularly for those engaged in the ministerial priesthood as well as anyone who wishes to become closer to God and find joy in life. There is a discussion of the meaning of the priesthood, basing Bible and Catholic Church documents, and its challenges and demands. Importance of positive psychology in the spiritual journey is also studied. The interview responses have guided the development of this thesis in this direction. Real-life situations are brought out to show the importance of the cross in life and how one can find joy through the cross is emphasized.


Brett Gleason D.Min.
This project focuses on the best practices of the Evangelical Free Church of America (EFCA) as it seeks to support the replanting or reestablishment of local churches that are considered “dying” because of their unsustainability and inevitably will close. The project thesis is that replants that implement these best practices have more conversions, more growth, and a higher survivability rate than those that do not. Both best practices of replanted churches and denominations that support them were identified in this study. The field work was completed using qualitative research methodology through a series of interviews, surveys, and document review.

Ten best practices of replanted churches were identified. (1) Replant pastor develops pastoral skills before replanting. (2) The church has a disciple making emphasis. (3) The pastor models evangelism. (4) The church serves the community. (5) The church prays evangelistically. (6) The church uses a holistic approach to evangelism training. (7) The church has evangelistic worship services. (8) The church has a vibrant small group ministry. (9) The church has a Connections Ministry Team. (10) The church is committed to Children’s Ministry.

Ten best practices of denominations were identified. (1) Clear distinctions between revitalization, replanting, and church planting. (2) Denominational staff designated for replanting. (3) There is a vision for replanting. (4) A clear process for replanting is developed. (5) The denomination adapts and modifies church planting systems for replanting. (6) The church has a replanting residency. (7) There is an assessment process for dying churches. (8) Interim pastors are utilized in the replanting process. (9) An oversight board oversees the replanting efforts. (10) There is a committed sending church for the replant.

Finding Home in the Wilderness

Andrew Thomas Bossardet D.Min.
Finding Home in the Wilderness is an exploration of the intersection of pastoral care, Christian spirituality, Biblical studies, Reformed theology, and trauma theory. This work contains a survey of trauma studies in the United States and its influence on theology, particularly Reformed theology. It also surveys several passages in the Gospel of Mark through a trauma-aware lens. John Calvin’s legacy is reconsidered through his own potentially traumatic circumstances. The project contains independent research on the impact of trauma-informed spiritual practices on the pastoral care capacities of nine pastoral leaders over the course of approximately six months. This project was successfully defended in February 2022.

Clergy incarnate : embodied metaphors as epistemic gateways to the ideological commitments of ministers

David K Popham
The satisfaction or dissatisfaction of clergy with the church is tied into their expectations of ministry. These expectations are often expressed through theological language which obfuscates the underpinning ideological motivation. While clergy are aware of some of their ideological warrants, they remain unconscious of the full ramifications of these impulses. The result is vague feelings around the issue of contentment/discontentment with the ministry. Using the understandings of cognitive linguistics, this study undertakes the exploration of metaphor as an entrance to the hidden aspects of clergy ideologies and come to understand the consequences of unconscious drives. [This is the complete abstract from the original work.]

Bi-vocational ministry : what works from the perspective of bi-vocational ministers and their congregants

Daniel Jon Lundquist
This project seeks to answer the question, "what is working in bi-vocational settings from the perspective of both the bi-vocational ministers and their congregants?" This is being researched to better understand how the members of churches, in conjunction with their pastors, can better use their God-given gifts in bi-vocational settings. This is significant for two reasons. The first is that more and more churches and denominations, including the more mainline white United Church of Christ (UCC) churches, are either seeking or needing bi-vocational ministers. The second is that, as churches move forward, and hopefully embrace, bi-vocational church living, they can, and oftentimes do, discover their own ministerial callings. These callings are grounded not only in the biblical tradition but also in the Reformed tradition. This project is qualitative in nature. It conducted a survey in which ministers and congregations who are working and serving in bi-vocational settings were asked several questions on what, how, and why certain concepts are a success in their church settings. This was done mostly in the Central Atlantic Conference-UCC. This is what I tested in my surveys and interviews: the views about bi-vocational living held by both the bi-vocational minister and their congregants and how these views contributed to the success of "bi-vocationalism." The results appear to be able to give pastors, congregations, congregants, denominations, and seminarians--especially those in the UCC-Central Atlantic Conference--a better understanding of what makes for a successful bi-vocational ministry.

"Come away by yourself and rest awhile" : retreat as a model of self-care for United Methodist clergy

Nicholas Michael Bufano
This project seeks to demonstrate the critical need for improved self-care for clergy. Using biblical texts, as well as current books, literature in journals, and first-hand experiences, the project presents examples of clergy whose self-care process is in crises, as well as models of clergy who engage in proper self-care. I then propose the spiritual discipline of retreat as a pathway to improving, and in fact revitalizing areas of deficit for clergy. The retreat is built upon my initial research, and other research about creating and leading effective retreats. It is also designed using specific responses to a survey given to twenty-five United Methodist clergy in the Baltimore-Washington Conference of the United Methodist Church. In that survey, clergy identified their previous retreat experiences, and also their desired elements in a retreat they might want to attend. The end result of this project is the demonstrated need for improved self-care, and a four day retreat designed to offer healing and a beginning step for those clergy who desire to improve their self-care.

What pastors experience in their congregations as they represent the peace position in the Church of the Brethren

Jeffrey O. Copp D.Min.
It is the thesis of this study that the peace position of the Church of the Brethren is in danger of becoming more a matter of proclamation than practice in the Church. It is the assumption of this study that this development is a problem for the Church of the Brethren, now and in the future, and that it does require attention.

Among those caught in the middle of this development are pastors who must declare the position and interpret it. In their office as pastor they must deal directly with the implications of a position that one Brethren writer has characterized as “rhetorical” in nature (Bach 180). The author of the present study, a pastor, has struggled with those implications and his struggles prompted this project.

The aim of this study was to gather information from Church of the Brethren pastors about their experiences as they represent the peace position in their congregations. It was felt that this would be a fruitful window through which to examine the state of the peace position in the Church of the Brethren today.

A questionnaire was designed and administered to a random sampling of Brethren pastors active today to solicit that information. Analysis of the findings revealed that most Church of the Brethren congregations are not presently experiencing significant conflict over the issue, but a majority of pastors are uncomfortable with the current status quo in the Church in regard to it. Six concrete recommendations for changing peace demographics in the Church of the Brethren emerged from the data.

Preaching with feeling in mind : how cognitive neuroscience encourages a preacher's appeal to emotions

Jay Joye
The purpose of this study is to explore how a preacher appeals to emotions to impact congregants as it correlates with cognitive neuroscience findings.
Countless Biblical texts highlight the importance of emotions in the life of a believer. Likewise, homiletics has long encouraged emotional preaching, calling communicators to wed together logos and pathos. Recent advancements in cognitive neuroscience stress emotions’ importance. Despite the Biblical, homiletical, neuroscientific, and cultural emphases, a lack of expression of emotion may be characteristic of homiletical methodology in the dominant American Protestant church culture.
This study utilized a qualitative design using semi-structured interviews with six pastors of different races from reformed denominations. All six pastors were committed to emotional appeals in their preaching. The literature review and constant-comparative analysis of the six interviewees focused on four research questions: how does a preacher appeal to emotions, how is the impact of a sermon measured, what obstacles stand in the way of emotional preaching, and how do these appeals correlate to cognitive neuroscience?
The literature review focused on three key areas to understand a preacher’s appeal to emotions: homiletics’ emphasis on the use of emotions, cognitive neuroscience’s support for appeals to emotions, and the doctrine of illumination.
This study concluded four things regarding appeals to emotion in preaching.
Consensus exists between homileticians, neuroscientists, and practitioners regarding the importance of appealing to emotions. The effectiveness of emotional preaching outweighs the risks associated with it. No appeals to emotion are likely apart from preachers identifying with the emotions of others. The mystery of the Holy Spirit in illumination does not mitigate the necessity of emotional appeals.
Four practices are recommended for preachers: Know your emotional God. Know your emotional self. Know the emotion of your scripture text. Know your emotional contexts.

Anglican elders? : shared pastoral leadership in Anglican churches

Christopher David Edward Moll
Because the Church of England is historically clerical, the incumbent pastor formally shares the pastoral burden or cure of souls with the Bishop. Evangelical Anglicans are impelled by both Scripture and mission to consider the New Testament pattern of plural local leaders or elders. This research explored the experience of Anglican ministers and church planters who established locally-shared shared pastoral leadership through a Ministry Leadership Team (MLT).
The purpose of the research was to explore the benefits of shared leadership for making and maturing disciples. In surveying the literature advocating the benefits and biblical precedents of shared leadership, it was noted that in contrast to other evangelicals, Anglicans apply the biblical data using the Normative Principle derived from the work of Richard Hooker. Four questions guided the research: (1) How does the local church’s shepherding ministry strengthen the work of making disciples? (2) What are the benefits of a ministry leadership team in the work of making disciples? (3) What practices have promoted collaborative working between members of the ministry leadership team, with particular regard to the work of making disciples Church? (4) How is the pastors’ Anglican self-identity manifest in the practice of shared local ministry leadership?
Nine UK pastors were interviewed using a semi-structured questionnaire with the data analyzed using the constant comparative method. Common and clear benefits are articulated by the respondents. The lay offices of churchwarden and PCC were also re- evaluated with respect to the responsibilities outlined in the New Testament for church
officers. The respondents exhibited a clear and confessional Anglican identity. Possible models for accommodating a MLT within the existing parochial structures are explored. Finally it was noted that in these theologically complementarian churches, the role and place of female pastoral leaders was not fully resolved.

Transformational leadership in the church

Peter Borgdorff
This project is designed to explore and develop a perspective on transformational leadership in the church. An interest in this subject emerged as a result of the author's professional development in industrial, educational, and ministerial settings.

Chapter 1 explores selected biblical passages from both the Old and New Testament and selected theological themes which relate to the subject of transformational leadership in the church. Saint Paul's writings are the primary material used for the motivation and purpose of leadership.

Chapter 2 is a report on selected literature dealing with transformational leadership. The scholarly contributions of James MacGregor Burns and Bernard M. Bass are given primary consideration.

Chapter 3 describes the procedures used in the research part of this paper. The thesis tested in the research is that the core values of a transformational leader are different from the core values of other types of leaders and that in both cases those core values influence the style of leadership chosen.

Chapter 4 summarizes the results of the research and provides interpretation of the data collected. Specific core values are identified, especially for transformational leaders, and those values are compared to the values reflected in the control group.

Chapter 5 integrates the learnings of the preceding chapters and proposes a strategy for transformational leadership in the church.
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