Congregations

The impact of aging upon the attitudes older church members have about their congregations

Author
Leon W White
Abstract
This study reports findings based upon reading, Part I, and research, Part II, which describe how the experiences of aging can affect the attitudes older church members have about their congregations.

The opening chapter of Part I examines how the theology, leadership style, and training of clergy can influence attitudes of the elderly. This is followed by an examination of personal and social forces capable of affecting how older persons feel about life and themselves as well as their congregations. Also discussed is the discovery and the stewardship of those special gifts God gives the Christian in later life.

Part II describes a research project conducted among 451 active church members fifty-five years of age or older. Using a 103-item questionnaire distributed among members willing to participate from a number of churches, the study sought to determine, define, and measure the religiosity of these members using factor analysis. The items loaded into five factors named Orthodoxy, Personal Faith, Treatment, Satisfaction with Life, and Dissatisfaction with Life. By comparison and correlation of these factors, and of items within and between the factors, it was found that this population of older church members has a positive attitude about life and more so about their congregations. The attitudes of men and women were similar regarding life, but regarding their congregations women felt more positive. Men want to feel more useful to their congregations. Retirement in the past year appears to have a more negative influence upon attitudes than any other loss mentioned.

The Loss of Baptist Identity: How the Loss of the Baptist Name Impacts Theological Identity

Author
Josiah Hoagland D.Min.
Abstract
Throughout the United States, many Baptist churches have been following a recent trend of dropping “Baptist” from the church title. Research has shown that with the rise of post-denominationalism, there is a loss of identity in Baptist churches. This study explores the effects of dropping the name Baptist from a church’s title and its perceived impact on the theological identity of the church. This study includes a literature review analyzing the current body of literature on Baptist identity. Six Converge North Central Baptist churches were studied, three with a Baptist name and three without, using church surveys and interviews with church leaders to determine what theological differences exist between the two categories. The results of the study showed theological differences between the two categories; however, further research, including a quantitative analysis of Baptist churches spanning a broader region of the United States, would be helpful in determining catalysts for Baptist churches dropping the Baptist name.

Seeing visions and dreaming dreams : a case study of revitalizing god's visions for Westminster United Methodist Church

Author
Malcolm R. Stranathan
Abstract
Upon returning to two-hundred-year-old, county-seat church, the new lead pastor and a diverse group of twelve members worked to discern God's vision for the congregation. Two years on, this project was implemented to evaluate and refocus ownership of God's vision by the congregation. Using congregation behavioral surveys, a worship series based on Joel, and a balcony team (congregation's leaders and the lead pastor-- who served as consultant) planned, implemented and evaluated the congregational members' ownership of God's mission, vision and core values. A VisionWork tool evaluated the vitality and fruitfulness of existing ministries and created a refocused passion and revitalized mission to serve the community beyond the church's walls.

[Note about entry: Abstract submitted to the Atla RIM database on behalf of the author. The text appears in its entirety as it does in the original abstract page of the author’s project paper. Neither words nor content have been edited.]

A child shall lead them : embracing intergenerational leadership for the missional work of the church

Author
Loletuth Kalz
Abstract
The author researched using an intergenerational leadership structure for the purpose of addressing a missional opportunity in the life of a local church congregation. She studied the biblical support for intergenerational leadership and how this kind of leadership supports the missional work of the church. Analysis suggests that cultivating an intergenerational leadership team can be an effective means of cultivating relationships between people from different generations while at the same time developing more diverse voices of leadership that encourages and expands the missional impact of a worshipping community.

[Note about entry: Abstract submitted to the Atla RIM database on behalf of the author. The text appears in its entirety as it does in the original abstract page of the author’s project paper. Neither words nor content have been edited.]

Diversity is not division : brand loyalty and strengthening ecclesial identity through distinctively Wesleyan liturgical design

Author
Kyle Ivy
Abstract
What if secular organizational concepts, such as “brand loyalty” were tactically employed by congregations in an effort to strengthen ecclesial identity among parishioners and communities? Successful branding is achieved through specialization and differentiation. Theologically, this is the process of discerning the spiritual gifts and calling-to-ministry of individuals and communities. Practically, this is the implementation and marketing of those distinct spiritual gifts in order to faithfully serve God and underrepresented worldviews in a community. This project follows the brand development of one rural congregation, which led to strengthened ecclesial identity or “brand loyalty” among parishioners through adopting distinctively Wesleyan liturgical practices.

[Note about entry: Abstract submitted to the Atla RIM database on behalf of the author. The text appears in its entirety as it does in the original abstract page of the author’s project paper. Neither words nor content have been edited.]

A STUDY OF THE SUNDAY ATTENDANCE PATTERNS OF COMMITTED SYDNEY ANGLICAN CHRISTIANS

Author
Antony Barraclough D.Min.
Abstract
This project researches the present-day Sunday church attendance patterns of committed Christians within the Sydney Anglican context. The project seeks to establish the veracity of anecdotal comments by pastors that the regular member of the church attends church either two in four to three in four Sundays a month. From there it seeks to determine the reasons this group of believers give for absenteeism and thereafter to respond biblically and pastorally to those reasons. A tool by the way of a short paper with the main findings of the project will be made available to laity and clergy alike to assist them in dealing with this issue.

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.

All things in good order: how senior pastors experience the Carver Policy Governance System in their congregations

Author
Timothy J. Brand
Abstract
The purpose of this study was to explore how Senior Pastors experience the implementation of the Carver Policy Governance Model in their congregations. Every Christian congregation has a system of governance, an agreed upon method to administer and manage the day to day operations, and exercise the ministry in good order. Many congregations and pastors face great challenges and unrest because of church governance issues. This issue is critical for pastoral health and longevity, as well as, congregational vitality and viability.
This study utilized a qualitative design using semi-structure interview with seven pastors from various denominations who served their congregations as senior pastors for ten years or longer. The literature review and analysis of the seven interviews focused on three key areas: the implementation of the Carver Policy Governance Model into the Congregation, the unique advantages of the Carver Policy Model, and the unique challenges of the Carver Policy Model.
This study concluded that there are eight components necessary to implement a policy based Board of Directors as the governing body of a congregation: outside resourcing, biblically based content, special pastoral character, full implementation of the Carver Model with the addition of an elder’s board (or its equivalent), clear separation of the administration and spiritual components, a high level of relational trust, a continual use of evaluation, and the implementation of teams.

Preaching and Pastoral Care: Helping a Hurting Church Heal and Move Ministry Forward

Author
Curlee Lamont Adams D.Min.
Abstract
This thesis project focuses on preaching and pastoral care and its ability to help bring healing to a church hurting in the aftermath of issues that originated from previous pastoral leadership. In the black church context, such issues and the resulting hurt experienced by congregations have become almost normative, and the means by which it has been addressed is limited at best. People who have suffered from betrayal, hurt, and loss are often told to “let go and let God.” The perpetuation of this has often taken place from the pulpit, which should be a place from which the good news of Christ’s unending grace is preached. It is the effort of this writer to show through contextual practice how the integration of preaching and pastoral care can help churches overcome hurt in order to move ministry forward.

STUDYING THE IMPACT OF INTRODUCING A FOR-PROFIT SUBSIDIARY TO A LOCAL CONGREGATION

Author
Bradley Scott Stagg D.Min.
Abstract
This doctoral research project studied the impact of introducing a for-profit subsidiary to a local nonprofit congregation. The study reveals congregational leaders experienced emancipatory feelings of hope and spiritual agency when utilizing the innovation tool of a business Miniplan. Liberating congregations from the oppression of financial scarcity freed church leaders to consider new ways to address increasing costs, particularly deferred maintenance of aging buildings. This project used Participating Action Research as its research orientation, since it is ideal for business and church research. All participants reported significant spiritual growth in stewardship; emancipatory feelings of hope; and generalizability for the larger church.
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