Faith development

Awana Together: Empowering Parents as Spiritual Mentors for Their Children

Author
Sara-Jane Heacox Sosa D.Min.
Abstract
The post-Christian culture in the United States presents a significant challenge to the spiritual growth of adults and children. At Plymouth Covenant Church, ministry leaders recognized that young parents often lacked a biblical foundation. Many did not feel competent to lead their children spiritually. These parents needed a vibrant personal faith as well as good role models. As a result, ministry leaders designed a more effective way to empower parents as spiritual mentors for their children. They created a new ministry that would provide personal faith development for parents, a supportive faith community, family-focused programming, and solid biblical teaching. This new ministry was a family version of Awana that they called Awana Together.

The problem that this project addressed was the need for a family ministry model at Plymouth Covenant Church that fostered a partnership between the church and families that empowered parents as spiritual mentors for their children. It used an intrinsic case study approach to evaluate Plymouth Covenant’s unique ministry, Awana Together, to determine if it provided a pathway for a better partnership between the home and the church in empowering parents as spiritual mentors. The research included evaluations of biblical passages and current scholarship, surveys of past and present Awana Together participants, focus group discussions with ministry leaders, and in-depth questionnaire responses from three different families. The research revealed that Awana Together was successfully designed to meet the goal of empowering parents as spiritual mentors for their children.

A Study of the Exegetical Conversational Bible Study for Spiritual Growth and Formation in Korean Immigration Church Small Groups

Author
Hyunkee Bae
Abstract
The purposes for this dissertation are to investigate the small group for the efficient Bible study to impact on spiritual growth and formation and to suggest a practical and efficient teaching method for organizing and operating small group Bible studies that can help the churches implement effective Bible studies. To accomplish these two goals, the exegetical conversational Bible study, which is a small group and interactive Bible study, was conducted at two Korean immigrant churches in the United States. Two surveys and group interviews and individuals were implemented. As a result, this project concludes that the exegetical conversational Bible study positively influenced the spiritual growth and formation of the participants in the small group.

Developing a Battle Plan for Spiritual Warfare with the Men of Crossroads Presbyterian Church

Author
Donald Sampson D.Min.
Abstract
The purpose of this project was to investigate the topic of spiritual warfare and assess the level of understanding of it among the men of a Presbyterian congregation in order to develop a plan to enable the men to engage in spiritual battles with the world, the flesh and the devil. The project included a biblical and theological study, followed by interviews with a select sample of men from the congregation. Qualitative analysis revealed some confusion over the phrase “spiritual warfare.” Additional themes that emerged from the interviews included a high degree of awareness of temptations of the flesh as an ongoing source of spiritual struggles and a strong belief that Satan is real. This latter belief was tempered by widespread uncertainty over the relevance of Satan, or any demonic influence, due to a very high conviction about the sovereignty of God. A recognition of the importance of enlisting other men for help in fighting spiritual battles was also a significant theme. While the men interviewed identified the value of having “battle buddy” type relationships, they readily acknowledged the absence of such relationships. Quantitative research via a confidential, online survey confirmed a low level of self-disclosure among the men of the congregation.

Assessing, Identifying and Cultivating Ministries Toward a Mature Holistic Process of Disciple Making

Author
Brian Cederquist D.Min.
Abstract
Although discipleship seems to be a current buzzword in ministry today, it is more than just a current fad. Discipleship is deeply rooted in scripture. Even at a cursory look, one can easily see its importance to the church. This is why many pastors and churches have found themselves actively pursuing growth in this area. There have been countless books, studies, programs, and training opportunities available for pastors and churches to educate their people about discipleship. However, the process of evaluating one’s effectiveness in discipleship is often a piece of the puzzle that is left out. This project journals one churches process of defining, assessing, and cultivating their holistic process of disciple making. As you continue to lead your church through this process of evaluation, you may find this research helpful to your process. No two churches are alike, and no two evaluations will be identical. Please use this as a launching point for your own churches evaluation process.

The Spirituality of Fatherhood: Developing a Faith Formation Program for the Archdiocese of Chicago

Author
Willie Robert Cobb Jr. D.Min.
Abstract
This thesis-project set out to explore the current faith formation programs offered in the Archdiocese of Chicago and the experience of fathers within this context, to support the spiritual growth of fathers and to explore how the church is called to support that growth through faith formation. The meta-method employed for this thesis-project involves the four “movements” of the “pastoral circle” developed by Joe Holland and Peter Henriot, with two additional steps—engagement with theory and correlation. The process included both a broad approach and a personal outreach to those working in the African American and queer communities. Direct outreach to various parishes throughout the Archdiocese of Chicago entailed making phone calls, sending emails, or stopping by a total of 32 parishes. In the end, three focus groups were conducted. The moderator completed all the necessary IRB paperwork and permissions prior to the session meetings. The moderator encouraged participation from each participant in order to elicit information from every single person in the group. To facilitate the discussion, questions were presented to allow the participants to reflect on and share their experiences. Genograms were used to help the participants consider the impact of their personal family history on themselves and their children for several generations back. The project presented and answered the following questions: Does the Archdiocese of Chicago play a role in helping fathers understand how to raise their children, how to fight stereotypes they face about their fatherhood, and how to share their spirituality with their children in a way that interrupts patterns of violence and confronts the social issues they encounter? A two-tiered program was developed to address the concerns that were presented through the course of the project to provide agency for fathers in developing their own spirituality.

The Faith Pyramid Evangelism Strategy: A Tool for Integrating Apologetics into Evangelism Training for Middle School and High School Students

Author
Samuel Lee Dallas III D.Min.
Abstract
This research demonstrates that apologetics material integrated into evangelism training increases the personal confidence of middle and high school students in sharing their faith. The anonymous surveys of thirty teenagers involved in the research showed an overall 33 percent increase in confidence (on a self-scoring ten-point scale) after participating in such training. Additionally, an overall 49 percent increase resulted in their perceived abilities to answer challenging questions during evangelistic discussions.
Such measurements were also validated in practical application. Graded quizzes on apologetics-related questions taken by the students both before and after the training revealed an overall 98 percent increase in scores. Finally, the students showed an overall 91 percent increase in sharing their faith in the two months following the training compared to the two months prior. These numbers reveal not only improvement in self-perception, but objective measures make the case for the success of this ministry project.
Chapter 1 introduces the ministry need and thesis of the dissertation in response to the need. Additionally, a layout of the researcher’s Faith Pyramid Evangelism Strategy is introduced.
Chapter 2 provides a biblical and theological justification for integrating apologetics into evangelism training and provides a historical justification for such an approach.
Chapter 3 examines the specific goals of this research as it relates to the subjective measures of teenage evangelists, the knowledge the researcher has sought to teach the students, and the desirable goal for an increase in evangelism as a result of such training.
Chapter 4 reviews the specific training of the thirty middle and high school students completed in the weekend seminar. The lessons were arranged into five workshops, followed by a survey given to the students two months following the training.
Chapter 5 provides a conclusion via an in-depth evaluation of the ministry project, as well as suggestions for future plans in implementing such training.

Embodied Contemplative Practices Within a High School Religion Curriculm

Author
Diane Mercadante D.Min.
Abstract
This thesis-project explores whether affective, embodied contemplative practices enhance cognitive learning in a Catholic high school religion classroom and encourage behavioral changes in students’ lives. The researcher introduced embodied contemplative practices to high school seniors using the lens of Appreciative Inquiry and Osmer’s four questions for practical theological interpretation, then offering students an opportunity to find meaning in their experiences using the Killen and de Beer theological reflection method. This thesis-project enters into a conversation with student experience, Gen-Z culture, and the Christian theological tradition to name the importance of embodied connection, affirm the practice of embodied Christian theology, and address the desire and need for embodied contemplative practices.

Faith Goes to Work: An Impact Study of Integrating Christian Convictions with Workplace Practices

Author
Terry D Koehn
Abstract
The purpose of this project was to impact the missional practices of a small group of Elk City United Methodist congregants through their participation in an eight-week experience focused on the integration of faith with work. The process involved responding to pre-test and post-test surveys, learning and discussing relevant concepts, and reflecting on related articles and videos.
The results of the small-group process revealed that the participants become more adept in thinking theologically about work. The participants also grew in their ability to value God's purpose in the work of others and to develop God-honoring goals for their own work.

Developing an Understanding of the Way People in my Ministry Context Read and Interpret the Bible

Author
Dieuner Joseph Rev D.Min.
Abstract
Developing an Understanding of the Way People in my Ministry Context Read and Interpret the Bible provides an in-depth assessment of biblical interpretation at an African American church through an ethnographic analysis. The research not only offers a systematic approach for examining the relationship between biblical interpretation and spiritual growth in that congregation, it also explores how the African American cultural context of the members of the congregation guides the way they read the Bible and what role prejudice and discrimination against African Americans play in shaping the members’ interpretation of the Bible. Moreover, it examines their understanding of biblical authority and how that understanding impacts the way they apply scripture in their daily lives to enhance their spirituality.

Equipping Selected Families of the Valley Creek Baptist Church, Hueytown, Alabama, in Faith Transmission Skills

Author
Reggie R Ogea
Abstract
The purpose of this project in ministry is to equip selected families of the Valley Creek Baptist Church in faith transmission skills. By equipping parents in personal spiritula formation skills, contextualized in cultural realities and development stages of children, the project director enables primary spiritula influencers to effectively transmit Christian faith to present and emerging generations. In this project in ministry, the project director researched fields of spiritual formation and family ministry, synthesizing his research into a listing of five personal and faith building essential skills, and created an experiential curriculum. The project director equipped parents and spiritual influencers using the research and development curriculum in faith transmission skills during six weekly sessions, each followed by five days of targeted personal and family faith transmission practices.
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