Lay ministry

Great Expectations: Elevating a Congregation's Sense of Vocation to Biblical Heights

Thomas E Richter
This project asserts the thesis that preaching about the doctrine of the priesthood of all believers can help move the members of Cullman First Baptist Church in Cullman, AL, towards an every-member ministry model of ministry. The project consisted of a seven-week sermon series and a concurrent collaborative small group. The project director evaluated his project through comparing a pre-project questionnaire with a post-project questionnaire, through sermon feedback forms, and through small group interviews. The research indicates an 8.8% improvement in congregational knowledge and excitement in the areas of self-understanding and sense of vocation as part of God’s royal priesthood.


Deborah Ruth Zeni MD D.Min.
This thesis research work on best practices of preaching arose out of the researcher’s passion for providing catechists with the means of nurturing a ‘falling-in-love’ with God experience for young children through proclaiming gospel as encounter.
Based on evidence that catechists lack formation in best practices of preaching, the researcher designed and implemented an educational initiative in a multi-site, multi-participant intensive formation program. The researcher used a homiletic grounded in the Paschal Mystery, which located God’s gratuitous and gracious actions on humanity’s behalf as the focus of preaching—giving gospel-power—to any form of preaching carried out during the study.
Within a unique form of pastoral ministry called the Catechesis of the Good Shepherd (CGS), employing a qualitative methodology, a constructivist epistemology, and a field-based action research design, the researcher effectively utilized various educational approaches to develop and assess participant competence in preaching using a comprehensive assessment program, and iteratively improving their learning and teaching preaching praxis using program evaluation tools.
The research shows that the curriculum successfully demonstrated that the comprehensive preaching model, which integrated five best practices of preaching for proclaiming the Word with children into the study’s conceptual framework, worked to develop the competence of catechists as preachers of the Good News. Additionally, the research showed that the intervention enabled and empowered the participants to find their preaching voice to speak of God acting mercifully, giving everything, loving unconditionally in the here and now as they experienced God doing in the scriptures.
As such, five best practices of preaching can be used as an effective framework for formation of catechists and educators for teaching preaching as encounter with children and sharing in a happening of grace through the proclamation of the Word.


Robert Wriedt D.Min.
This Doctor of Ministry project created a training program for potential elders at Grace Community Church of Seal Beach. The first section of the project is a biblical and theological study of Christian leadership generally and eldership specifically that locates elder training within Christian discipleship. It then moves on to an integration of the contemporary literature on elder and board training, seeking to combine the best of theologically driven works (such as those by Anyabwile, Rinne, and Strauch) with writers focused on practical concerns (such as Busby or Malphurs and Mancini) as well as secular leadership theorists (such as Kouzes and Posner, Greenleaf, and Carver).

The qualitative research project itself focuses on how to train elders using a nine-week small group format. Since elder training is rooted in the growth of character (“Be”), knowledge (“Know”) and practice (“Do”), each week’s meeting included sections on theology, ministry skills, and Christian character. Participant growth was measured by interviews before, during, and after the conclusion of the nine weeks, as well as by observed behavior within the context of the group. The project appendices include full descriptions of the course content that was taught and the readings that were assigned to participants.

One of the key findings from this project was the necessity of training elders prior to their invitation to serve as elders, rather than waiting for them to begin service on the board or even before they were asked to serve as elders in the upcoming year. An analogy would be to compare it to pre-engagement counseling, rather than pre-marital or marital counseling. Participants stated that the training provided clarity of what was expected of elders was very helpful in their discernment process, which excited some and caused others to opt out of the process.


Joel Howard D.Min.
Grace Lutheran Ministries in Menomonee Falls, Wisconsin, strives to affect both its congregation and community through ministry. As ministry grows, it is essential for Grace to implement a strategy for developing leaders and deploying them into ministry. This major project focused on the essential nature, culture, and strategies for empowering leaders from not just the paid staff but from among all of God’s people and then developing them in areas of character and competency. The project also focused on the importance of alignment in the leadership development process.

The project utilized three research methods. First, a Biblical, theological, and literary study of leadership development was done in the areas of character, competency, and alignment. Second, questionnaires and a focus group were used to understand the current view of leadership development and alignment among Grace’s leaders. Third, the nominal group technique was utilized to brainstorm key ideas and strategies for the leadership development strategy.

A strategic plan was developed that began with creating a leadership culture around the unified use of language through leadership principles. Then, four strategic goals were created to develop, deploy, and debrief leaders at Grace through the use of small groups, coaching, and large group settings. Finally, the effectiveness of the leadership principles and strategic goals were evaluated by Grace’s senior staff through a SWOT analysis.

Listening: The Heart of Christian Healing Prayer

Sandra B. Kerner
Students desiring formation in Christian healing prayer ministry participated in a training course which fostered knowledge and practices of good listening and healing prayer demonstrated in ministry with one another. Students gave feedback to one another on developing skills and reflected on their learning experiences as a community of practice. Course design addressed the need for specific training, practice, and feedback in listening within the practice of healing prayer, listening to God and people, so that healing, empowered by the Holy Spirit, may be enhanced. Biblical and theological sources (from Hilary, Calvin, Wimber, and Payne) undergirded content and practices.
Students desiring formation in Christian healing prayer ministry participated in a training course which fostered knowledge and practices of good listening and healing prayer demonstrated in ministry with one another.

How a Study of Biblical Individualism and the Body of Christ Affects Young People’s
Willingness to Engage in Church Leadership at First Presbyterian Church, Alliance,

Kim Y Jay D.Min.
This thesis researched the issue of an independent and individualistic mindset of young people in their 20s to 40s at First Presbyterian Church Alliance in Nebraska. This mindset is associated with their unwillingness to participate in church leadership. Understanding the biblical and literary foundations of individualism and collectivism are the core approach to confronting this mentality which is exhibited in behaviors of egocentricity, selfishness, or egoism. The biblical and literary principles of individualism and collectivism are intrinsically harmonized with a sense of unity which is actualized in a recognition of self-value as an autonomous being. An individual as an autonomous and rational being should recognize his and her inner attributes and utilize them for the needs of others. The nature of unity is the corporate reality of all individuals which is represented in the characteristics of the body of Christ. Learning true individual value and unity would benefit the young people and encourage them to get involved in church leadership.

Equipping selected lay leaders of Haitian Emmanuel Baptist Church, Miami, Florida, with expository preaching skills

Wadler Jules
The purpose of this project was to equip selected lay preachers of Haitian Emmanuel Baptist Church, Miami, Florida, with expository preaching skills. The project director began researching the field of expository preaching to discover essential expository preaching skills. Following the initial research on expository preaching the project director completed a study on curriculum and lesson design and development in order to write a series of lessons on crafting effective expository sermons. These lessons became his guide as he led a series of training sessions to equip the group of selected lay preachers of Haitian Emmanuel Baptist Church, Miami, Florida, with expository preaching skills.


R. Strickler D.Min.
The project set out to discover guidelines for how to best prepare Chinese bi-vocational Kingdom Workers to work and live missionally wherever God leads them. Of particular interest to the emerging missions candidates from China are Muslim peoples spread throughout the countries aligned with the emerging Belt Road Initiative.

A review of international marketplace ministry and business as mission practices was undertaken. The project research focuses on a sample of existing Chinese-led Business as Mission enterprises. Interviews were conducted with ten different Chinese executives or owners, located in seven different countries, including China proper.

Information on why companies chose to locate in an area and how the leaders were prepared, was elicited. Some correlation was made as to how the Chinese BAM companies conduct their businesses compared to the international BAM movement.

There was convergence between the two streams, and at the same time several distinct issues and opportunities emerged for the preparation of future Chinese workers. Among these are: solid teaching on the theology of work for both candidates and senders; the need for life-on- life discipleship training prior to going out; for those inexperienced in BAM or marketplace ministry, the recommendation for apprenticeship with an existing company prior to being deployed; and, the opportunity for Chinese BAM companies to capitalize on emerging green technologies.

The findings from these interviews provides material that will be used by the writer, his agency, and partners, in the preparation of bi-vocational Kingdom Workers. This will help new appointees they are coaching to live and work most effectively as they answer the call to go to unreached peoples in the newly opened Belt Road countries.

The importance of reading congregational culture for effective church leadership

Edwin Eng Wei Wong
This project paper seeks to provide practical tools to help pastors and leaders understand congregational culture to effectively lead their ministries. Drawing pointers from the servant-leadership practices of Nehemiah as well as other resources, the author formulates approaches to managing transition and leading change. Recommendations, based on broad observations from a survey on a small group of itinerant pastors in Singapore, are subsequently drawn.

[Note about entry: Abstract submitted to the Atla RIM database on behalf of the author. The text appears in its entirety as it does in the original abstract page of the author’s project paper. Neither words nor content have been edited.]

Church leadership and the crisis of theological identity

Michael Drew Shelley
The crisis of leadership supposedly ravaging the Church in the 21st century obscures a deeper crisis of theological identity in which churches, pastors, and lay leaders have forgotten who they are, the home to which they belong, and the mission to which God calls them. The presenting symptoms of this crisis of identity are pastors and churches stuck in places of ineffectiveness, hopelessness, unhealthy expectations of each other, and general malaise. The project for renewed pastoral and lay leadership at Crossville FUMC has focused on the means of grace by which the Triune God creates the being of the church and from which emerge the corresponding practices of leadership which prepare the congregation for its ministry in the community. Pastors and people reclaim their identity by engaging the crisis of identity through theological questions of identity, “Who is God who creates the Church?” And, “who are we as the Church before God?” In so doing, churches clarify their identity as disciples of Jesus claimed by God in our baptism, members of God’s household with a place at God’s Table, and a community of disciples forever called into God’s mission. . . .

[Note: Abstract submitted to the Atla RIM database on behalf of the author. The text appears in its entirety as it does in the original abstract page of the author’s project paper. Neither words nor content have been edited. The abstract was shortened in length to adhere to the submission requirements.]
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