Discipleship

Christ-Centered Leadership: The Formation of Millennials

Author
Sean Wood D.Min.
Abstract
The problem this project addressed is the perceived lack of Christocentric leadership development among millennials of Canadian churches with over one thousand people in attendance. In response to this problem the researcher explored Christ-centered leadership formation and discipleship in the New Testament and early church. The literature reviewed related to the uniqueness of millennials as it connects to leadership development. The researcher interviewed two Senior Pastors who are considered highly influential with the millennial cohort. These two leaders have both led effective church congregations in Canada during their respective twenty-plus year tenure serving the same churches. Millennial leaders who are actively serving in roles of influence within these two churches also participated in this project. Fourteen were personally interviewed from the thirty-seven who completed an online survey. Three millennial cohort specialists were also interviewed. One is a respected Canadian sociologist, one is a counselor, author, corporate coach and Canadian media personality, and the third leads Canada’s premier sports camp and retreat center. Canada is an increasingly secularized country in which emerging generations are struggling to be rooted in Christ and effective in discipling and serving those within their sphere of influence. Through the analysis of the results of this project, and leaning on the research discovered, the researcher developed and presents seven principles in Christ-centered leadership for millennials living in Canada.

Cultivating Relational, Developmental and Missional Discipleship within a Lutheran Mega-Church

Author
Richard Michael Webb D.Min.
Abstract
Over the last two decades, many Lutheran mega-churches have become stagnant or have begun to decline in worship attendance. Some have even closed their doors, not surviving past their founding leadership. Furthermore, few of these mega-churches offer any kind of intentional growth pathway for their members. What is called discipleship often appears instead to be a classroom-driven assimilation process. This project addressed the problem Lutheran mega-churches have in making disciples by exploring the relational, developmental and missional aspects of discipleship and how they might be integrated into an effective discipleship strategy for use in these mega-churches. This project began with an exploration of Jesus and his followers’ approach to discipleship, as found in the books of Matthew, Luke and Acts. This project also included a review of literature focusing on the relational, missional and developmental aspects of discipleship, as well as Lutheran theological reflection on the overall nature of discipleship. Using a case study format, this researcher then investigated and analyzed the discipleship practices of three Lutheran mega-churches through the use of interviews, documentation, and field observations. Synthesizing the findings resulting from the exploration of Scripture, the review of relevant literature and the field study of three Lutheran mega-churches, the researcher developed an integrated relational, developmental and missional mega-church strategy and pathway for Lutheran mega-churches, particularly for Lutheran Church of Hope, West Des Moines, Iowa. This strategy and pathway include program alignment and mentoring strategies, a revised visual developmental pathway for use by church members, and a discipleship assessment and resource navigation tool, designed to equip members with the resources they need along their unique discipleship journey.

The Role of Transformational Leadership in Preparing Youth as Future Church Leaders

Author
Michael Kiju Paul D.Min.
Abstract
The membership of St. Peter's Episcopal Church has been on the decline. The most affected members of the church congregants are the youth. In return, this threatens the future of the ministry. The issue is mainly attributed to the failure of former and current church leaders to prepare youth as future ministry leaders. The biblical and theological foundation of the study was based on various passages, such as Gen. 17:4-5, Exod. 3:11, Luke 10:1-16, John 20: 11-18, and 1 Corinthians 11:1, among others. The researcher depended on the above listed biblical passages since they offered insights into Abraham, Moses, Jesus, and Apostle Paul’s transformational leadership. The researcher also reviewed literature about transformational leadership traits exhibited by Abraham, Moses, Jesus, and Apostle Paul. The researcher also reviewed examples of the actual practice of transformational leadership in the church setting. The review revealed that transformational leaders promote individual development of their followers, empowers followers, encourage creativity by being open to new perspectives, and offer individual mentoring and coaching. A case study approach was employed for the thesis project. The researcher collected primary data from seven pastors and seven youth aged between 18 and 25 years using a self developed interview protocol. The collected data were analyzed using thematic analysis, where main themes were identified. The results revealed that transformational leadership practices, including empowerment, delegation, appreciation, encouraging creativity, and articulation of clear goals, have the potential to help youth to take up church-related roles and promote their church attendance. The thesis project plays a significant role in shaping and challenging the youth ministry at St. Peter's Episcopal Church. God challenged me to work on church growth in terms of attendance and youth participation in leadership roles. He also called me to address the issue of declining youth congregants as posing a threat to the continuity of the ministry.

A CURRICULUM ON THE GENEALOGY OF MATTHEW

Author
Sha (Simona) Zeng D.Min.
Abstract
Genealogies have been one of the least studied literary forms in biblical scholarship over the years. This major project designs a seminary curriculum on the genealogy of Matthew and contends that Matthew’s Gospel, a synoptic and historical record similar to Chronicles, closely follows the Chronicler’s ideology and methodology. Thus, Matthew’s genealogy is purposefully devised to contain breaks (which I define as every insertion and deviation beyond the normal pattern of father begat son in the genealogy). These breaks highlight the numerical discrepancy of generations which are based on the pattern and concept of Chronicles are used to convey the unique Matthean message, and also function as an introduction to the whole book, just as the genealogies in Chronicles. The interpretations of the breaks and the numerical discrepancy of generations show a Christ-centered, suffering theology-based yet hope filled, and incarnation-powered life for Christians as well as an inclusive mindset, marginal-esteemed mentality, retribution-saturated, and cultic-oriented ministry for churches in addition to an influential-exerted leadership.

This project does more than teach the genealogy per se; instead, it explains the canonical priority of Matthew in the New Testament, enhances the knowledge of canonical reading of Scripture through studying the relationship between Chronicles and Matthew, demonstrates connections between the Old Testament and New Testament, contributes appreciation for often ignored portions of Scripture, identifies synoptic relationships in different parts of the Bible, teaches a way of interpreting the synoptic texts, strengthens the ability to read the biblical text, provides the transformational applications for Christian life and church ministry from the interpretations, includes the suggestions of improving the curriculum through multiple evaluation instruments, and provides plans for future teaching ministry. Moreover, lessons learned throughout the execution of the project will hopefully increase my own pedagogical effectiveness in general.

Developing Mutual Spiritual Intimacy Among the leaders of Walking on the Water Ministries Through the Use of Ruth Haley Barton’s Book Pursuing God’s Will Together

Author
Walter Gregory Joseph D.Min.
Abstract
This research project used Ruth Haley Barton’s book Pursuing God’s Will Together, as a tool to develop mutual spiritual intimacy among the leaders of Walking on the Water Ministries. Sessions were completed with the leadership group over an eight-month period using some of the principles of participatory action research. Research methods included surveys, group sessions, Barton’s Personal Reflection exercises and questions, and my personal observations. The result was a personal growth experience for the leaders, as we journeyed together in developing mutual spiritual intimacy. x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x

The Use of Appreciative Inquiry to Help a Congregation Through a Crisis Towards a More Positive Outlook: Reemphasizing Discipleship and Leadership Development

Author
Martin Edward Spoelstra D.Min.
Abstract
ABSTRACT

This portfolio was originally intended to research Discovery Church’s
journey to multisite. Over a four-month period just prior to launch of the second
site, the church dealt with a leadership and financial crisis brought on by a drop in
attendance. These changes necessitated putting multisite on hold and refocusing
energies on discipleship and mission.

The original research question proposed the use of an Appreciative Inquiry
model intended to help the congregation deal with the emotional and social shifts
to become one church with two locations. Facing new circumstances, the
Appreciative Inquiry model was modified to help the church deal with the
emotional and social concerns they had around the dramatic change in their
attendance and vision for multisite. This exercise gave an opportunity for the
Church to recall why they started as a church plant, some of the great things that
God had already done, the courage to risk once more, and step into a new future.

Out of the Appreciative Inquiry, Discovery Church embarked on the
rebuilding process that focused on clarifying their existing vision, developing
disciples making disciples, and a missional leadership development process,
eventually leading them back to the potential for multiplication.

The Growth of Faith Lutheran Church of Castle Rock through Intentional Evangelistic Efforts

Author
Ebassa Berhanu D.Min.
Abstract
The author research what difference if any, a six-week teaching on the Great Commission and an instructional program on discipleship making, will have on the thinking and behavior of the people of Faith Lutheran Church on the importance of evangelism. The author used narrative qualitative method to measure his results. The research was fruitful from the point that the correct biblical understanding, by large, changes the thinking and behavior of people. Before the teaching a majority of the participants had a limited understanding of the word "go" in the Great Commission. They understood it as a suggestion rather than implied command to support the only command in Matthew 28:19 to "make disciple." Having the correct understanding shifted their thinking: going from point A - B had a greater purpose, which is to look for opportunities to "make disciples." Another misconception the participants was on evangelistic efforts. They had a very negative perception of what evangelism meant. The image they had was people holding "repent or you will go to hell," which left a bad taste in their mouth. This caused them to distance themselves from the work of the evangelist. The correct understanding of the word evangelism being a bearer of Good news, changed their thinking and behavior. The instructional program had positive results as it equipped people on how to share the gospel with others, creating confidence in the lives of the participants.

Discipleship in a Disney Culture: The Effect of Christian Self-Denial on Perceived Delight in Jesus and Others

Author
Joel Van Soelen D.Min.
Abstract
The purpose of this project was to test the hypothesis that a six-week small group focused on
Christian self-denial, in loving God and others, would lead to an increase in perceived delight in
Jesus and others among members of Anaheim Christian Reformed Church in Anaheim, CA.
Self-denial is a key component in living as a disciple of Jesus. The research identified
consumerism as an obstacle. Self-denial in the writings of Augustine, John Calvin, and Timothy
Keller were researched. Small group participants learned about the role of self-denial in the
Christian life and completed assignments to help them grow in their relationship with God and
others through Christian self-denying practices. A mixed methods approached was utilized to
assess the effectiveness of the project. Quantitative data showed a significant increase in
happiness from pretest to post-test. Qualitative data evidenced a change in thinking in regards to
the positive nature of self-denial in the Christian life through journal entries and from pre-interview to post-interview responses. The conclusion of the project revealed the positive view of
Christian self-denial in discipleship, the vital nature of small groups, and the importance of
reflection to encourage delight Jesus and others.

EVALUATION OF A TEACHER TRAINING WORKSHOP FOR BIBLICAL WORLDVIEW EDUCATION AND TRANSFORMATION

Author
Rhonda Kaye Kamakawiwoole D.Ed.Min.
Abstract
Given the world’s plurality of worldviews, transformation to the biblical worldview—God’s understanding of reality—remains the paramount task of Christian parents and the church in cooperation with the Holy Spirit. Christian parents are to impress God's commands on their children so the next generation might come to know, love, and serve Him (Deut 6:6-7). Jesus charges the church to make disciples, baptize, and teach others to obey his commands (Matt 28:19-20), yet, spiritual formation is not the target it should be for most Christian families and the American church. The literature reveals a general lack in understanding of the biblical worldview in Christians across generations, and thus, believers lack confidence and motivation to share God’s worldview with others.
This study sought to evaluate the effectiveness of a workshop designed to address transformation in the comprehension, commitment, and intended conduct of participants to train others to the biblical worldview. Statistical analysis revealed participants changed in understanding, confidence, and motivation toward engaging in further growth to the biblical worldview and training others to it. Anecdotal information gathered from comments on the post-training survey provided additional evidence of the above, as well as qualitative evidence demonstrating participants changed in their commitment to share God’s truth with others and planned for future change in this “commissioned” area for Christ.
The workshop effectively addressed the lack of intentionality about growing in and sharing the biblical worldview with others. The study showed adult Christians of all ages are more likely to engage in sharing the biblical worldview with others once they better understand the distinctives of the biblical worldview, gain confidence in their knowledge and abilities and are motivated to share it, and are equipped with models for training others to the biblical worldview.

Redemptive Understanding of God's Genocidal Commands to the Israelites

Author
Jeremy J Ahn D.Min.
Abstract
Acquiring new discipleship members is difficult when many potential candidates protest that thew instances of Old Testament genocide reveal God as one to be feared rather than loved. This thesis explains how this author's newly designed classroom materials encouraged the development of understanding and empathy in discipleship candidates for the journeying Israelites. Of fundamental importance to this thesis is this author's insight illuminating the paramount significance that each recorded genocidal command correlates with a certain Stage of the Old Testament. Formal qualitative evaluations at the conclusion of this specialized course supported this researcher's hypothesis that deeper cognitive and spiritual enlightening of the recorded Old Testament events would authentically convey a holistic, loving, and paternal God, unfolding a redemptive plan for humankind throughout the ages.
This course was also designed to assess if our church's static number of new discipleship candidates would increase, especially if the instances of Old Testament genocides could be presented as acts of a a loving, redemptive God. Those discipleship candidates who completed this revised course are enthusiastically drawing new candidates by word of mouth. With the next course still two months away, we have already doubles our usual applications.
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