Revitalizing congregational life

Gene Wilson Aulenbach
As we minister in the local church, we are constantly faced with its challenges. Meetings, counseling, “oiling,” sermon preparation are an ever-present drain on time and talent. But to add to the challenge, membership roles and interest in the church seem to lessen as the “job of the ministry” demands another day in the “eight day” week. How do we spark enthusiasm? How do we overcome the apathy that surrounds the church? In the past two and a half years we at Bausman Memorial United Church of Christ have been involved in a process of “revitalizing congregational life.” As a result, our participation in worship over the past year has increased over 30%. Our program of Christian Education has experienced the same growth. In fact, there is a whole new attitude toward the church evolving as a result of this process. It is the purpose of this paper to explain the model we used in this revitalization in the hopes that other churches might experience a similar spark… the same excitement. Chapter 2 looks at its organizational design. Chapter 3 explains the attitudinal survey which receives its correction in chapter 4, the demographic survey. Chapter 5 describes a congregational survey which is designed to elicit the ideas of the people, and chapter 6, goal setting, follows directly from those ideas. Chapter 7 reviews the validation of this project by a trained interviewer to determine whether or not the process has been the major cause of growth and revitalization in the congregation.

Equipping Next Generation Ministers at Cross Church, Northwest Arkansas, with Strategic Evangelism Implementation Skills

O. Henry Powell Young IV
The purpose of the project is to equip next generation ministers at Cross Church, in Northwest Arkansas, with strategic evangelism implementation skills. The student did so by exploring the fields of evangelism and strategy implementation in next generation ministries. The project included the design and execution of a curriculum workshop which will be used to train next generation ministers at Cross Church, Northwest Arkansas, in strategic evangelism implementation skills. Research regarding the trends of salvations and baptism rates in the Southern Baptist Convention from 2010 to present. Existing strategic evangelism tools were presented along with new material designed by the project director. The project resulted in the development of a next generation evangelism strategy workshop and the equipping of next generation ministers at Cross Church, Northwest Arkansas.

Gone fishing : marketing faith to millennials in the postmodern era

Gary W. Filson
This project 1.) recommends the use of business language and practices in and for the Church. Whether or not the Church acknowledges it, the Church operates as a not for profit business, performing the functions of a theater (the worship service with music and programs), a school (with teachers, students and curriculum) and even a restaurant (family night potluck dinners and fundraising dinners). Yet the Church typically resists business practices. 2.) This project emphasizes the need to know what our product is and what message we need to use to reach Millennials. Assuming we agree Jesus is the “product”, we need to know how to proclaim to others why Jesus matters. And, we need to know the best way to message our product in this Postmodern Era. 3.) This project promotes developing a marketing strategy in and for the Church. Marketing strategies seek to understand the best way to attract the targeted group and develop programs to meet their needs whereas evangelism usually seeks to assimilate people into the membership of the existing programs of the Church. 4.) This project suggests a step by step plan to do Inreach, which is a deliberate process to prepare a congregation to do Outreach. Inreach is a necessary but often neglected step in preparing people to accept an adaptive change. People within the organization must be trained to see themselves as part of the sales team so that Outreach can be successful. 5.) This project suggests a step by step plan to do an Intentional Outreach Program. 6.) This project distinguishes the difference between preference and purpose driven programs, encouraging leaders to choose purpose driven programs. Not every successful program will work everywhere it is tried. Programs must have a purpose that appeals to the targeted group; programs must be tested (marketed).

Developing an Evangelistic Outreach Strategy for Fellowship Memphis, Memphis, Tennessee

James Keith Adams
The purpose of this project was to develop an evangelistic outreach strategy for Fellowship Memphis. The project focused on local evangelism for the surrounding area of the two campuses of the church using demographic and psychographic research. Demographics describe who people are while psychographics explains what people prefer. The project director contracted with Church Answers to obtain demographics and psychographics. Dr. Sam Rainer disaggregated the data obtained from the report.

The goal of the demographic and psychographic analysis was to determine marketing and outreach strategies best suited for the community surrounding both campuses of the church. The demographics and psychographics of the campuses were similar, but the strategy planning team identified differences that would produce different focuses for each campus. The next stage of the project was researching best practices of evangelistic outreach utilized by effective churches. The project director surveyed and interviewed selected ministers from evangelistic churches to determine best practices in the field of evangelistic outreach. He then developed the strategy with the assistance of a strategy planning team.

Equipping selected Adults of First Baptist Church, Forney, Texas, with Personal Evangelism Skills

Matthew P. Hill
The purpose of this project was to equip selected adults of First Baptist Church, Forney, Texas, with personal evangelism skills. To accomplish this purpose, the project director first researched the field of evangelism to identify personal evangelism skills. From his research, he then produced an annotated bibliography and report on personal evangelism skills. Next, the project director researched curriculum writing. He then developed a curriculum that incorporated the personal evangelism skills discovered in research. Finally, the project director equipped eighteen selected adults in a one-day, personal evangelism training workshop. The personal evangelism skills the participants acquired taught them how to adopt a new mindset, live and attractive life, and share the message conversationally. These skills will help the participants reach the increasingly post-Christian and fast-growing population of unchurched people of Forney. Expert evaluators in evangelism and curriculum design validated multiple aspects of the project to ensure accuracy and effectiveness.

A contextual commentary on the Apostles' creed : envisioning the formation of a Christian missionary community in Japan

Manabu Ishida
The purpose of this project is to demonstrate that the Christian faith community is essentially a missionary community. I produced a contextual commentary on the Apostles' Creed for that purpose, interpreting the symbols of the Creed from the Japanese socio-historical perspective.

Chapter One briefly reviews some negative legacy of Christendom commonly known to Japanese people. This kind of knowledge is crucial to make effective communication of Christian faith to the non-Christian people.

Chapter Two is a brief introduction to the commentary and the text of the Creed.

Chapter Three deals with the first part of the Creed. I point out that it is necessary to convey to Japanese people the meaning and importance of the terms "believe" and "God" in a Christian sense.

Chapter Four is a commentary on the section of the Creed on Christ. I present the possibility of interpreting the credal symbols within a Japanese socio-historical context. I conclude that our way of life, in accordance with the coming of Kingdom of God in this world, is what identifies us as the people of God.

Chapter Five is an experimental description of how a Japanese Christian community can be a missionary community. I suggest the following three points: l.The church should be freed from a church growth oriented concept of mission. 2.The participants of the community are the narrators of God's saving activities in the world, and at the same time those who act out God's divine will. 3.The faith community should live a minority way of life in its society.

Playing Christ : preaching and performing the drama of God’s mission

Brian Robert Keepers
In my survey of missional literature produced over the past ten years, I was struck by the minimal space given to (and often complete omission of) the role of preaching in the missional church conversation. In more extreme cases, preaching is regarded as “ineffective” and even an “impediment” to “going missional.” This greatly troubled me, especially since I am part of a Reformed tradition that affirms the ministry of Word and Sacrament as a primary means of grace by which the triune God missionizes us and forms us as a missional people. So I set out to explore the relationship between the Ministry of Word and Sacrament and the missio Dei, particularly interested in what kind of preaching cultivates a missional imagination among God’s people. I came to the conclusion that the kind of preaching that does this is that which draws people into the drama of the triune God’s mission, where our lives get re-scripted in Christ and we are transformed and empowered by the Spirit to improvise our parts (“play Christ”) to the glory of God and for the sake of the world. I then set out to identify key characteristics of missonal preaching toward this end. In addition, I was curious as to which of these key characteristics were most present and most absent in my own sermons and how I might increase my capacity to incorporate them in my regular practice of missional preaching.

Worship as public truth : toward a liturgical-missional ecclesiology for evangelical congregational leaders

Anthony James Stiff

This Final Project is focused on helping Evangelical congregational leaders move toward embracing a liturgical-missional ecclesiology. I contend that many Evangelicals have embraced only part of what it means to be missional. They are missing one of the essential practices of Lesslie Newbigin’s original vision of missional ecclesiology, the practice of liturgical worship. In order to help Evangelical congregational leaders embrace liturgy I have chosen to draw heavily upon the practical theology method of Richard Osmer. Osmer uses four tasks in his approach to practical theology, which can be arranged in a variety of ways. I begin with the interpretive task, then I move to the normative task, then I move to the descriptive-empirical task, and I conclude with the pragmatic task. In the interpretive task I explore theories from social sciences that argue that human identity is shaped through corporate narratives. I make the observation that corporate narratives can have a liturgical quality to them. In the normative task I explore concepts from Scripture and church history that can encourage Evangelicals to embrace a liturgical-missional ecclesiology. To do this I look at Paul’s narrative ethics in Philippians 2:5-11 and at Lesslie Newbigin’s reflections on liturgy and mission. I also offer some ‘good practices’ that have come out of liturgical-missional conversations in North America. In the descriptive-empirical task I use the case study method to explore the practices of four different Evangelical churches that have embraced liturgical-missional ecclesiology. Finally, in the pragmatic task I offer Evangelical congregational leaders a tool (a guidebook) to facilitate critical reflection on the missiological value of worship. In the preface and postscript I place this project into critical dialogue with the wider question of Lesslie Newbigin’s continuing legacy for the western church.

Evangelism as care : four Christian practices for the 21st century

Kathryn Grace Nichols Campbell
Adam and Eve. Cain and Abel. Mary and Martha. Jesus and John. Relationships, one with another whether healthy or otherwise, permeate the Bible. When two people are in a relationship, there are expressions of care and concern as well as an understanding of each other’s backgrounds. When we are in relationship with one another, we want to know as much about the other person as we can. In many cases, this includes knowing about one another’s faith traditions and experiences. From a very early age, I have done what I can to make sure that people around me feel welcome in whatever environment we share. In high school, I welcomed each person who came into the doors of youth group by name with a smile and a hug. I invited all of my non-youth group friends to events because I thought they would enjoy them. Some of my strongest relationships are with people I have known for more than 75 percent of my life. To this day, I want to make sure that wherever we are, all with whom I gather have everything they need to have the best experience possible. Invitation, hospitality, nurture, and welcome are four practices people do daily and would acknowledge they do so. However, they do not believe they can be successful when asked to evangelize. I argue that, when examined through a theological lens, when people engage in these four practices, they are successfully evangelizing. Through the work of this project, these four Christian Practices are defined, examined, and discussed while thinking about how they can benefit a congregation in helping the church to grow in membership.

Outreach to embracing : a Johannine model for community engagement

Denise Kingdom Grier
Outreach ministries often perpetuate systems of apartheid. Embracing is an alternative model inviting vulnerability and mutual sharing. John’s gospel is concerned for the faith of the one reaching out. John 4 will yield the four congruent steps from outreach to embracing. This project employs a mixed methodology drawn from Richard Osmer’s 4- step Consensus Model for Practical Theology and Robert O. Brinkerhoff’s Success Case research method. The success case method brings stories from three actual congregations who exercise embracing practices. The stories are accompanied by song lyrics that harken from the receiving end of the apartheid.
Outreach programs have been established by evangelical Christian churches in
America to respond to the needs of impoverished communities, to evangelize non-
professing citizens, and to attend to systems of injustice.1 These programs have
successfully led to the physical growth of the Christian church in America. The church
can celebrate the countless children fed, numerous communities resourced, and all the
followers of Christ who have actively complied with the teachings of Jesus in the Bible
because of its efforts. Christian outreach programs in America have done a great deal to
help less fortunate people, but they have also done a fair amount of harm to those they
endeavor to aid.
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