Methodist Churches

Advancing Social Justice: Claiming the Voice of the United Methodist Deacon as Preacher

Author
Eric Pugh
Abstract
In the United Methodist Church, the preaching of the deacon is an underdeveloped voice that should be included among all the other preaching voices in the church. The preaching voice of the deacon is grounded in their call to compassion, justice, reconciliation, and restoration, and is informed by biblical and historical contexts that affirm and confirm the value and necessity of such preaching. Naming and claiming the voice of the deacon as preacher requires deacons to understand themselves, their call to ministry, and the relevance and importance of their voice that calls attention to the need for justice in action as valid and necessary in our world today. The voice of the United Methodist deacon as preacher is a necessary voice in the local church and beyond for the advancement of social justice. This project thesis rests on the belief that for the United Methodist deacon, claiming their voice as preacher helps them more fully fulfill their call to ministry and live into their baptismal and ordination vows.

Gospel Hospitality: A Foundational Pillar for Unifying Clergy and Laity as a Collaborative Community

Author
Pamela Rivera
Abstract
The ongoing categorizing of African Methodist Episcopal churches by membership size and budget has promoted an unconscious practice of succession leadership. This injurious practice ends up impeding the participation of lower-tier churches and hinders the building of authentic Christ-like relationships. This project intends to introduce gospel hospitality as a spiritual value that invites all clergy and lay leaders to the table of relationships as equal advocates. The researcher used constructive narrative theology to collect and interpret the data that was generated through the project. The data concluded, ‘Gospel Hospitality is a Foundational Pillar for Unifying Clergy and Laity as A Collaborative Community.’

Weaving Earth and Sky: Small Group Spiritual Direction for Those in Transition from Loss and Caring for Loved Ones

Author
Tina N. Shelton
Abstract
This project explores the role spiritual disciplines play in the lives of those going through transitions that involve loss or caring for loved ones. This involves inviting God’s presence through spiritual disciplines, learning and relearning strong Biblical characters, and sharing our own narrative stories with one another. Participants at South Elgin Community United Methodist Church took four to six weeks respectively to embark on a healing journey with one another and with God. There was growth and/or healing gained through this project. This growth and/or healing was measured by the new perspectives expressed and the new changes that came forth.

A Wesleyan symphony of discipleship : the development of an academy of lay ministry

Author
Robert L Hundley
Abstract
In his book, Robert Pazmino admits to coining the word lude, but claims that the word is derived from the Latin word ludere, which means "to play." In familiar musical terminology, the 'Pre-lude' establishes an introductory context. A 'Post-lude ' is a musical term that describes a concluding statement that often summarizes the motifs that have been introduced since the Prelude. Pazmino creatively suggests that the lude is the subject between Prelude and Postlude. It is the primary motif or theme. The 'Lude' may function as the playful way that a subject is developed and communicated.
The author identified and developed a musical analogy and applied it to the Christian Education experience. Teaching, (according to Pazmino), is like a performance where the teacher functions as a conductor who orchestrates his or her classroom, not in an entertaining way, but rather in creating a teaching/learning environment with and for the student. lt is an appropriate analogy. As a conductor, every rehearsal is like a laboratory classroom. The conductor teaches, gives opportunity for creativity, motivates the performer, and corrects mistakes so that the ensemble and conductor are participating
in a learning process on the way toward performance.

The missional heritage of the people called Methodist : the story of five Iowa United Methodist congregations on a reclamation journey

Author
Jill Sanders
Abstract
According to the Council of Bishops of the United Methodist Church, we face an unprecedented moment in our history. In the United States, church membership, worship attendance and the number of baptisms continue to decline, funding for connectional ministries continues to decline and grows weaker in the current economic crisis; and the "warm heart" of John Wesley's movement has become a "contented heart" of institutional inertia; and the 1970's organization and structure we live with is not sufficient, nimble or responsive to the fast changing 21st Century world we inhabit.

The missional heritage of the people called Methodist offers clues to a way forward for United Methodists who long to be part of a missional movement once again. Although John Wesley would not have recognized the term "missional" in the way it is understood today, he instinctively shaped his movement around the development of missional identity (accountable discipleship in community) and missional engagement with those on the periphery of society (submitting to become more vile). Perhaps by reclaiming those early impulses and shaping them for relevance in the 21st century, United Methodist congregations can reclaim their missional heritage and break the institutional inertia that keeps them operating under the assumptions of Christendom.

The early Methodists : lessons in renewal and transformation for the contemporary church

Author
Daniel Mejia-Munoz
Abstract
"Can the experiences of the early Methodists help midsize churches in the United States in decline find growth and new life? The early Methodists experienced renewal and revival as they explored alternative and innovative missional models. The author conducted a survey among United Methodist clergy and laity to investigate the need for change and innovation in their congregations and what tools would help both leaders and churches thrive. Additionally, the author interviewed modern innovative Methodists who in their work are modeling a new way of being church today. The project suggests that the early Methodists can inspire churches in unique ways to be innovative and transformative in their contexts, congregations, and communities." -- Leaf [2].

Wesleyan revitalization of the church rooted in a theology of abundance

Author
Anthony Jason McCullough
Abstract
"How can Prattville First United Methodist Church employ a theology of abundance through engagement in the Wesleyan means of grace to overcome a religious identity of overwhelming scarcity? The author's project explores and focuses on this question through a re-envisioning of ministry structures within a local United Methodist congregation through contextual assessment, community collaboration and Biblical engagement. Through theological engagement with the subject of Biblical abundance, this project paper will articulate how a church can move from the power of a belief in scarcity to a practical holiness rooted in professing God's good news. Through small group conversations, experiential worship services, Bible studies, a sermon series, and intentional formation efforts, First United Methodist Church has grown in its orientation towards Biblical abundance, renewed religious identity and revitalization. The paper serves as a reflection on this transformation process with hopes to empower other local churches as they seek to discern and initiate revitalization in their congregations." -- Leaf [2].

Creating contemporary worship : interventions for developing contemporary worship that is theologically sound, liturgically mindful, and culturally relevant

Author
Woods Bradshaw Lisenby
Abstract
"Worship is a central feature of Christian communities. In the twenty-first century, expressions of worship take on many different characteristics. One style of worship that churches around the world offer, with increasing regularity, is Contemporary Worship. . . . The main question this project aimed to address was, how do we create Contemporary Worship services in the United Methodist Church that are conducive for church growth but do not sacrifice the essence of what makes us United Methodist. The author of this project offers interventions at Dauphin Way United Methodist Church in Mobile, Alabama, to develop a process for creating Contemporary Worship that other United Methodist Churches can replicate. This project focused on creating worship that is theologically sound, liturgically mindful, and culturally relevant. . . . " -- Leaf [2].

Cut the blue wire : defusing tension in a United Methodist local congregation amidst denominational turmoil

Author
Donald W. Kuntz
Abstract
"Specific practices reduced anxiety in a local congregation, even while the denomination was in turmoil. Field observation, brief questionnaires, and small group conversations revealed reduced anxiety following these interventions. Reflections were informed by a study of the Jerusalem Council in Acts 15. Descriptions, acknowledgement and acceptance of clergy anxiety led to lower anxiety thus benefitting the congregation. Traditional practices including prayer, hymn-singing, and book study focused congregational energy and reduced anxiety. Appropriate use of gentle humor, learning about diversity, and appreciating diversity, reduced tension, thus defusing situations before they could explode. These interventions created a new atmosphere where independent thinking and lively conversation allowed for increased compassion in a church where diversity is welcomed and embraced." -- Leaf [2].

Redeeming failure : how the stories of failed church plants point toward fruitfulness

Author
Matthew G. Johnson
Abstract
"New church starts in the United Methodist Church experience failure at a surprisingly high rate. The author spoke with six United Methodist Church planters to learn about the ways they experienced fruitfulness in ministry even as their projects were not deemed successful. Many of these stories have not been previously told and the author found it meaningful and important to share the stories of the important work that these planters accomplished. Using the information gathered from these stories, the author makes suggestions as to how church planting in the United Methodist Church might change to offer greater support and success to those people who are attempting to start new churches." -- Leaf [2].
Subscribe to Methodist Churches