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.

The Gospel : the power of God for salvation mobilizing the church for evangelism to Muslims

Barbara Yandell
Global geo-political realities have unsettled and promoted massive movements of Muslims fleeing countries formerly restricting Christian witness into Europe and North America. Many current Islamic regimes have been destabilized contributing to Muslims experiencing cognitive dissonance, disillusionment and despair. Christians now have the opportunity and urgent commission to witness to Muslims on their block, at their workplace, attending schools with their children, and attending universities. The scale of the upheaval in Islam demands an all-Church emergency mobilization training effort to fast track Church engagement with Muslims.
Evangelical leaders that I have worked with my whole ministry career are asking for Biblically faithful training for evangelism and missions. Many existing courses on Islam commend highly contextualized methodologies, dynamic equivalent models, peacemaking and friendship. They do not teach the fundamentals of evangelism, of communicating the Gospel for the conversion of Muslims from Islam to Christianity.
The methods of research employed are narrative inquiry in collaborative action research with colleagues having vast experience in missions, evangelism, apologetics and discipling Muslim people. Field notes, roundtable reflection, interviews and Kirkpatrick’s evaluative process collected and gleaned best practices from case studies and from the Engage Course classes that have been offered so far.

Ecclesiology and discipleship : rediscovering an effective communal approach

Robert Edwin McAndrews
I love what the Reformed Church in America adopted in 2013 as its 15-year vision for ministry (condensed to this phrase), “Transformed and Transforming.” It is both “life change” and “life changing.” There’s a considerable amount of time, effort, and growth that occurs between those two very different terms. These two basic endeavors are what disciples of Jesus should be doing with their lives. We have been transformed, redeemed through the work of Christ on the cross; it begins here with God’s grace and salvation, imparted by the Holy Spirit. Then it must continue by daily taking up our cross and dying to self, or transforming; the life-long process of sanctification. Our church leaders have recognized that it’s not about creating programs, nor one size fits all, but it does involve discovering and rethinking how we can best carry on the work our Lord Jesus commissioned us to be doing.

An Examination of Lee Rutland Scarborough's Influence on the Southern Baptist Convention From 1918-1925

Ronald D Rucker D.Min.
This dissertation examines the life and works of Lee Rutland Scarborough to determine his influence on the Southern Baptist Convention from 1918-1925.

Chapter 1 introduces the study and includes a thesis statement and an examination of the biographical factors, which influenced Scarborough’s life. This chapter includes Scarborough’s family background, call to ministry, education, pastoral experience, summary, and timeline.

Chapter 2 examines Scarborough’s influence as general director of the Southern Baptist Convention’s Seventy-Five Million Campaign, which was a program intended to raise 75 million dollars over a five-year period from 1919-1924, to help finance Baptist efforts in missions, education, and other benevolent work. This chapter presents his influence in development and implementation of a strategy to execute the campaign.

Chapter 3 examines Scarborough’s influence as a committee member of the Future Program Commission, which recommended adopting the Southern Baptist Convention’s Cooperative Program [CP] in 1925. This chapter presents his influence related to the theological convictions he maintained in the area of cooperation.

Chapter 4 examines Scarborough’s influence as a member of the Baptist Faith & Message committee, which framed the first Southern Baptist convention-wide confession, entitled the Baptist Faith & Message in 1925. Prior to the 1925 confession, they used the New Hampshire Confession of Faith (1833) and the Abstract of Principles (1858).

Chapter 5 provides a conclusion for the entire dissertation and centers on one of the most important concepts espoused by Scarborough during his lifetime. The concept of cooperation was redefined by Scarborough in a way for Southern Baptists that still marks a distinguishing feature of the denomination today. This chapter solidifies the thesis of the dissertation by an examination of how Scarborough utilized his influence to engineer a new direction for Southern Baptist through his efforts on the Seventy-Five Million Campaign, formation of the Cooperative Program and the Baptist Faith & Message.

Revealing the Unknown God: Acts 17:16-34 as Luke’s Paradigm for Evangelism in a Biblically Illiterate Culture

Timothy Paul Wilson M.A.
This dissertation suggests that Acts 17:16-34 is intended by Luke as a paradigm for evangelism among the biblically illiterate and seeks to identify the methodology that is set forward as a paradigm. In the first section, two arguments against seeing Acts 17:16-34 as a Lucan paradigm are examined. Chapter two examines the arguments of those who claim that this speech is in no way an example of Pauline preaching but is rather the work of Luke or some later redactor. It is argued that there are no ultimately persuasive reasons to accept this view of the reliability of the speech. Chapter three presents the ideas of those who believe that the speech was a failure on the basis of issues such as the small number of converts and insights from the early Chapters of 1 Corinthians. These commentators believe Paul later repented of the approach he took at Athens. Again the essay examines these arguments and ultimately concludes that there is no reason to see the speech as anything other than successful. Section two asks what example Acts 17:16-34 sets for readers. Commentators have differed over their understanding of what Paul is doing here. Some argue that the speech represents a work of assimilation with Greek philosophy, others a critique of Greek idolatry and other groups some combination of the two. This essay will argue for a contextualised critique methodology. It sees critique as Paul’s primary purpose in the speech but acknowledges the way that his message is contextualised to be understandable to his hearers.

Equipping Members of FBC in Evangelism

Breckenridge L Merkle D.Min.
This project was designed to meet a need at FBC Black Forest for evangelizing the community with the gospel of Jesus Christ. The project was conducted using a case study group of nine individuals. The team was tasked to identify those who needed to hear the gospel and find opportunities to share with them on a regular basis. Upon processing the data, three skills were identified toward having a lifestyle of evangelism: (1) identifying your oikos, (2) clearly articulating your salvation testimony, and (3) engaging in evangelistic conversation. The church must take intentional steps forward to share the gospel in the communities surrounding the church.
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