Faith development

A study on the restoration of faith and the calling education of the young adult as 'N abandonment generation'

Dong Nam Shin
"This is a study of the restoration of the faith of modern youth called the N generation. Their present-day problems are seen as the limits of capitalist development and the capitalization of the church. For solving this problem, I propose the theological theories based on the Scripture's calling and Luther's and Calvin's calling. For seven weeks in young adult worship, I preach a biblical theory and lead the small groups. Thus, I would like to think again about the basic calling of faith and help them to overcome their problems and restore their faith by finding calling. For that reason, this project for young people help them to realize the importance of calling and give them the time of thinking about their calling. This project will provide strategies to overcome their reality rather than escaping." -- Leaf [2].

Recovering From and Rejoicing in Fundamentalism: Insights From Former Fundamentalists and the Pastors Who Shepherd Them

Eric Alan Vander Ploeg D.Min.
Christian fundamentalism played a key role in protecting the gospel from liberal decay in
American history. Its leaders built a high wall of separation around the fundamentals of the faith
to protect them from the innovations of modernism. The wall kept cultural threats out, but it also
kept a particular era of Christian culture in. While America later experienced the most rapid
cultural upheavals in its history, fundamentalism remained largely unchanged within its walls,
and the cultural chasm grew wider and wider. Some of the children of fundamentalism have now
left these walls and are in search of something new.

This project seeks to help these “travelers” on their journey. Twenty focus groups with
self-identified “recovering fundamentalists” identified several patterns of personal pain along
with lessons learned that could benefit others. Nine interviews with experienced pastors yielded
best practices in shepherding travelers as they enter evangelical churches. These results were
collated to produce four key findings:

1. Living with the disapproval and disappointment of fundamentalist parents after
2. Learning how to trust authority (of leaders and of the Bible) after being told to “just
trust” and not ask questions.
3. Moving from a model of sanctification that is guilt-based to one that is grace-based.
4. Learning how to rejoice in the fundamentalism of one’s youth and to see God’s
kindness and glory amidst the errors of its proponents.


Owen Lorenzo Wilson D.Min.
The main purpose of this research was to explore the role of faith development of Millennials in their decision making in three selected churches in Portmore, Jamaica. It integrates valuable data from related literature reviewed in relation to Millennials and their characteristics, theories on human and faith development, and the stages of faith formation. The research also identifies the contributing factors to the phenomenon of faith. Additionally, the research shares the responses and opinions of Millennials on their faith journey and how faith acts as a social good in decision-making. The findings reveal that while Millennials are logically connected individuals, faith is a value-based tool in their decision-making efforts.

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

Richard Michael Webb D.Min.
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.


Sha (Simona) Zeng D.Min.
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.


Rhonda Kaye Kamakawiwoole D.Ed.Min.
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.

Rolling Away the Stone: Toward Wholeness and Holiness for Queer Catholics

Ryan J. Hoffmann D.Min.
In what ways are the praxes of queer Catholics cultivating affirming approaches to wholeness and holiness? How is DignityUSA, a national nonprofit LGBTQI advocacy organization in the United States, testifying to more inclusive and just expressions of church?

This thesis-project explores best practices of hospitality among DignityUSA chapters and examines ways in which it contributes to LGBTQ wholeness and holiness. Queer Catholic experience, Catholicism, and relevant fields of science serve as dialogue partners. The project asserts points of clarification and identifies six pathways forward for LGBTQ Catholics and the Roman Catholic Church.

The project suggests that radical hospitality serves as an integrative catalyst behind which LGBTQ Catholics more authentically and confidently appropriate their rightful place in the Catholic Church.

The Art of Finding Home: Creative Pilgrimage and Placemaking at Immanuel Baptist Church, Paducah, KY

Brittany Riddle D.Min.
By guiding participants to reflect on scripture and their life experiences through the creation of art in various mediums, this project was designed to teach a model of creative, theological reflection in order to provide artists at Immanuel Baptist Church in Paducah, KY with the opportunity to deepen their creative identity, to claim their identity as people who are created in the image of a creative and creating God, and to form meaningful community through shared, creative practices.

Participants gathered for seven weeks to visually and creatively reflect on themes of home and community in scripture as a way to practice creative placemaking. By sharing stories, practicing lectio divina, and creating art together, the artists were invited on an inward journey that encouraged theological reflection as an embodied, creative process rather than simply an intellectual exercise. At the end of the seven weeks, participants showed significant movement in the depth of their theological reflections as well as a greater sense of connection to each other and belonging within the congregation.

Helping People to Experience Spiritual Healing of Painful Life Experiences

Brian Smilde D.Min.
This Doctor of Ministry Major Project was intended to assess the extent to which people experience spiritual healing of past wounds through a series of small group gatherings focused on teaching and experiencing the spiritual healing of Jesus Christ.

The project began with identifying the biblical and theological foundation for Jesus healing people from their wounds—not only physical but also emotional or spiritual. Then examining what people in other disciplines—such as social science, counseling, and business—also think, believe and teach about healing or restoration from past wounds.

The intervention involved a small group of six participants experiencing a series of eight small group gatherings. They filled out a Pre-Group and Post-Group Questionnaire. After five small group gatherings of teaching, experiencing and praying, there were two Focus Groups which allowed the participants to share feedback about what they learned, experienced and thought.

The data from the two Questionnaires and the Focus Groups was analyzed in order to assess the effectiveness of these small group gatherings to lead participants toward the spiritual healing of Jesus Christ. The result of this analysis was that participants were helped to identify past wounds or traumas, they felt safe to share honestly and vulnerably with the other group participants, they felt that others responded with grace and empathy, and they reflectively and personally applied the teaching in ways that allowed them to experience Jesus release them from past pain.


Thomas Hein D.Min.
The project identifies some of the ways Christians grow in maturity during times of suffering. During these times some Christians grow in maturity, while others experience a setback in their spiritual growth. This is a pastoral study, meaning that it is primarily concerned with observation and analysis of the discipleship process in the lives of Christian believers. The project evaluates true and false beliefs about God and spiritual life that occur during the process of suffering in the lives of New Hope Evangelical Free Church (Adel, Iowa) adult believers. Fifty-seven church members answered questions in a quantitative survey inquiring about their spiritual life before and after their time of suffering. Interviews were conducted with fifteen of the survey participants for more in depth evaluation of their spiritual disciplines, attitudes, and beliefs.

The study evaluated some false beliefs about God and spiritual life that Christians may develop during times of suffering. In addition, the study evaluated what true beliefs about God and spiritual life sustained believers during times of trial. Finally, the study evaluated what spiritual disciplines helped people move toward greater spiritual maturity during a season of suffering.

The practical application outcome of the study is a small group workbook entitled, A Journey through Suffering: Processing the Painful Experiences of Life. This resource is designed to be an exegetical devotional guide to help people reflect on their suffering in the context of a biblical metanarrative. Prayerful reflection will potentially lead toward maturing discipleship that glorifies God.
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