Leadership, Religious

Paying attention : comparison of desired characteristics of ministerial leadership in the United Church of Christ

Author
Kay S. Rader
Abstract
Meeting leadership needs of the United Church of Christ, which includes finding the best ways to prepare new leaders for authorization, has been a lively conversation in the denomination in recent years. A decade of study led to a national Pronouncement on ministry issues in 2005 which suggested ways to move into the future while taking into account the remarkable diversity of faith communities within the denomination.

The broad range of ecclesiologies, with their corresponding theologies of ministry, has made the denominational conversation rich, but it has also made the task of coming to consensus on ministry issues challenging. In order to gain a better understanding of our practices in preparation for creating new guidelines for authorization, one directive of the Pronouncement was to “pay attention to our theologies of ministry in the UCC, especially ordained ministry.”

This project applies an ecclesiological typology to the descriptive language in current local and national denominational guidelines for identifying, preparing, and authorizing candidates for ministry, for the purpose of comparing the preferences which are revealed in them. Preferences are arrayed, and similarities and discrepancies between local and national materials are noted. In particular, this project observes whether or not the full range of ecclesiological diversity of the United Church of Christ is reflected in the guidelines for authorization, what differences exist between the sets of guidelines in this respect, and what the significance of those differences may be. The intent of this project is to contribute to the ongoing denominational conversation.

Developing a Holistic Religious Support Strategy for the Alabama National Guard's 135th Expeditionary Sustainment Command

Author
Adam Chochran
Abstract
The purpose of this project was to develop a holistic strategy to enhance religious support for the 135th Expeditionary Sustainment Command of the Alabama National Guard. There is a difficulty for National Guard Chaplains to cover units based on monthly schedules, unit locations, and staff requirements. This can serve as a hindrance to religious support to subordinate units. The project director will investigate the needs of religious support down to the company level. This will provide the information needed to assess the religious support needs. The project director will identify resources necessary to enhance the religious support strategy. The project director will identify personnel that will help in the holistic religious support strategy, in accordance with the command master religious plan. The holistic religious support strategy will guide religious support in the 135th Expeditionary Sustainment Command and its subordinate unit ministry teams.

Developing a Leadership Organizational Strategy for Blue Creek Baptist Church, Perry, Florida

Author
David Brady Beigle
Abstract
The project director sought to solve what was a crucial issue for Blue Creek Baptist Church in Perry, Florida, by utilizing the strategy planning model. The leadership structure at Blue Creek Baptist Church was distorted, undefined, and unbiblical. Therefore, Blue Creek Baptist Church found itself at a pivotal moment. Will the church adopt a new leadership structure that works for Blue Creek Baptist Church both now and in the future, or will the church refuse to adopt a new leadership structure and continue in a state of apathy and mediocrity? The purpose of this project was to develop a leadership organizational strategy for Blue Creek Baptist Church, Perry, Florida, by completing research, conducting interviews, and enlisting input from key individuals in the area of leadership structures. The project director believed that implementing this strategy would help Blue Creek Baptist Church establish a new and more effective leadership structure that would serve Blue Creek Baptist Church for years to come. As a result, a new leadership team structure was developed and presented to Blue Creek Baptist Church by the project director and the strategy planning team, but the implementation of the new leadership structure was beyond the scope of this project.

What pastors experience in their congregations as they represent the peace position in the Church of the Brethren

Author
Jeffrey O. Copp D.Min.
Abstract
It is the thesis of this study that the peace position of the Church of the Brethren is in danger of becoming more a matter of proclamation than practice in the Church. It is the assumption of this study that this development is a problem for the Church of the Brethren, now and in the future, and that it does require attention.

Among those caught in the middle of this development are pastors who must declare the position and interpret it. In their office as pastor they must deal directly with the implications of a position that one Brethren writer has characterized as “rhetorical” in nature (Bach 180). The author of the present study, a pastor, has struggled with those implications and his struggles prompted this project.

The aim of this study was to gather information from Church of the Brethren pastors about their experiences as they represent the peace position in their congregations. It was felt that this would be a fruitful window through which to examine the state of the peace position in the Church of the Brethren today.

A questionnaire was designed and administered to a random sampling of Brethren pastors active today to solicit that information. Analysis of the findings revealed that most Church of the Brethren congregations are not presently experiencing significant conflict over the issue, but a majority of pastors are uncomfortable with the current status quo in the Church in regard to it. Six concrete recommendations for changing peace demographics in the Church of the Brethren emerged from the data.

Gender Dysphoria And The Question Of Membership In The Local Church

Author
Shane A. Patrick D.Min.
Abstract
The past decade in American culture has increasingly become an exercise in deconstructionism in almost every way imaginable. The cultural touchstones of recent years include racially motivated protesting and rioting, claims of systematic racism and white supremacy, climate crisis, record-level inflation, a rise in cultural interest in neo-Marxist and socialist ideas, supply-chain gridlock, claims of election fraud, and record-high crime rates throughout the country. Another of these cultural touchstones, and the contextual focus of this project, is the active attempt of America’s increasingly secular culture to deconstruct and redefine sex, gender, and other sexual norms. The zeitgeist of this cultural moment includes a decoupling of sex and gender, and an attempt to encourage and normalize transgender identities and/or gender fluidity. This cultural deconstructionism also runs contra to the Christian worldview and Judeo-Christian values which introduces unique theological and ecclesiological challenges within the local church context. Among these challenges is the question of how to faithfully approach local church membership decisions with candidates who personally experience the burdens of gender ideology—which is the focus of this project.

The Revitalization of a Network of Churches: A Strategic Plan for Future Effectiveness of the Baptist Bible Fellowship International

Author
Randy Allen Harp D.Min.
Abstract
The Baptist Bible Fellowship International (BBFI) was birthed in 1950 and rapidly grew to become the country's largest network of independent Baptists. Beginning shortly after the deaths of many of its key founders, the BBFI has been in a state of decline for decades. This project presents a strategic plan for the future effectiveness of the Baptist Bible Fellowship International.

Chapter 1 introduces the thesis and explains the methodology. The methodology includes research, interviews, surveys, a comparative study of a like organization, and work with a strategic planning task force. This chapter also addresses some theological issues and the practical application of the project for the BBFI. Finally, it highlights the goals of the project.

Chapter 2 explains the process of implementation. A generational study of the BBFI, along with key events and key leaders, is documented. The purpose, design, and participation of the survey and interviews are explained. The General Conference of Swedish Baptists, now known as Converge, is examined. The formation and execution of the BBFI Strategic Planning Task Force are outlined.

Chapter 3 provides an assessment of the entire project. The survey distributed for this project is directly compared to surveys distributed in the early 1990s by BBFI leaders. Insights are summarized from interviewing elected leaders and an outside expert on the BBFI, Elmer Towns. This chapter also assesses the stated goals of the project, specifically the strategic plan presented to BBFI leaders.

Chapter 4 summarizes the conclusions of the project. It evaluates the project's purpose and goals. It shares the strengths, weaknesses, and limitations of the project. It reflects on theological insights gained and shows how the project can be applied to the BBFI. This chapter also includes some personal reflections and concludes with recommendations for further research.

Prioritizing Listening as the Leadership Training Fundamental: Equipping Leaders with the Art of Listening to Bring Christ-Centered Harmony to the Church

Author
Steven So D.Min.
Abstract
This project aims to provide leadership training focusing on equipping church leaders with the art of listening. The project gives a literature review on leadership and listening based on publications and dissertations over the last twenty years. The literature review shows that even though authors and researchers recognize listening is essential for leaders, there is no systematic training designed for the local church context. Then, the project examines a biblical and theological reflection on listening. After that, the project looks at a detailed description of an eight-session training that covers biblical teaching on listening, church application of listening, the servant attitude in listening, skills in active listening, and how to listen to God, self, and others. The training includes an active listening practice, which is purposely designed to be done in a short period to stretch the listening effort. At the end of this project, the actual training is evaluated. It provides some analyses based on the assessment results collected from the participants. It also includes a summary of the feedback gathered from the participants and future plans for the training.

Developing an Online Ministry Model Training Tool at Northeast Houston Baptist Church in Humble, Texas

Author
James Robert Jordan Jr D.Min.
Abstract
This project attempts to develop and train attendees of Northeast Houston Baptist Church—a church in Humble, Texas—in the vision, discipleship model, and evangelism strategy of the church to produce new leaders, which can be developed for the purpose of continued church planting in the Houston area. Chapter 1 presents the history and ministry context of Northeast Houston Baptist Church and the goals this project seeks to accomplish. Chapter 2 offers a biblical overview of the call for a local church to develop new leaders for the purpose of serving in the kingdom of God through leadership and planting new churches. Chapter 3 provides a historical overview of leadership development in the local church. Chapter 4 describes the project itself, including methodology utilized to evaluate each objective and assess the project’s completion. Chapter 5 evaluates the success of the project and furnishes some lessons learned along the way. The end goal of this project is to provide Northeast Houston Baptist Church a resource that it can use to train new members, future church planters, and pastors who are looking to implement a healthy church model for the glory of God in their individual contexts.

Equipping Coaches to Develop Great Commission Leaders at Macarthur Blvd Baptist Church in Irving, Texas

Author
Travis Ryan Benge D.Ed.Min.
Abstract
This project sought to equip Great Commission leaders at MacArthur Blvd Baptist Church (MBBC), Irving, Texas. Chapter 1 presents the history and ministry context of MBBC. The chapter also explains the project’s goals, the need for equipping leaders, and how this project was conducted and measured. Definitions and delimitations specific to the project are also included.
Chapter 2 discusses the cycle of the disciple-making process. The chapter provides an exegesis of three passages of Scripture. The first is Matthew 28:18-20, the Great Commission. This passage shows that disciple-making begins with Jesus’s command to make disciples, demonstrating the entire process of discipleship, and states that disciple-making begins with evangelism and the conversion the Holy Spirit brings. The second section exegetes Matthew 4:18-22 to show upon conversion, and trusting and following Christ, believers are called to enter intentional discipleship relationships. The third section exegetes 2 Timothy 2:1-7 to demonstrate the importance of generational discipleship, which in this passage shows leaders being sent out. The final cycle of the Great Commission is the development, coaching, and deployment of disciple-makers.
Chapter 3 argues that developing faithful Christian leaders takes development in character and competencies. To have high character but not have the competencies to lead falls short of godly leadership. On the inverse, to have ungodly character and exceptional competencies falls short of the leadership to which God calls his leaders. This chapter is broken down into the necessity of leadership and the model for leadership. Both sections discuss character and competencies. Chapter 4 describes the project itself, recounting the content and teaching methodology of the specific course curriculum. Chapter 5 evaluates the project’s efficacy based on the completion of the specified goals. This project equipped coaches with the confidence and competency to develop shepherd leaders to lead groups with a Great Commission focus.

A Contextualized Approach to Leadership Training in Jesus City Mission, Cameroon

Author
Jerome Ebua Awah D.Min.
Abstract
The goal of this project was to understand the approaches that should be present in a contextualized curriculum for leadership development at the Jesus City Mission (JCM), Cameroon. The need for an indigenous approach to leadership training contextualized to the Cameroonian African context, in contrast to the current adopted Western model was identified. This project developed a model for leadership training to prepare ministers for service in the rapidly growing JCM church. To reach this understanding, a participatory action research process incorporating qualitative data-collecting instruments was employed, interviewing and surveying of Ministerial Academic (MINACA) students and JCM stakeholders. A focus group of 8 participants was constituted, 10 MINACA former students and 25 current students were interviewed. Sixty questionnaires were administered to participants. We discovered that trainers must not only be qualified but must be conversant with the sociocultural realities of where training is taking place. Leadership training must be hands on. This information provided a foundation for the future development of various training processes in JCM and other Christian denominations facing similar challenges.
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