Mission of the church

A THIRTY-ONE DAY SPIRITUAL GROWTH EXERCISE AT SYRACUSE ALLIANCE CHURCH TO HELP CHRISTIANS KNOW AND EXPRESS THE LOVE OF GOD

Author
Brian Rathbun D.Min.
Abstract
The “Love One Another Spiritual Growth Exercise” was developed because it was essential at Syracuse Alliance Church in Syracuse, New York to develop the Great Commandment environment in order for the church to more effectively fulfill the Great Commission.

The Love One Another Spiritual Growth Exercise was developed to focus the people of the church for thirty-one consecutive days on loving God with all their being and expressing their love for God by loving others as themselves. A series of five messages from 1 John was preached over five consecutive Sunday mornings. Thirty-one “Love One Another” devotionals were developed and then distributed daily. People were challenged to memorize one key Love One Another scripture verse per week for five weeks. They were asked to make one brief journal entry per week for five weeks to reflect on what God was teaching them about loving Him and others.

At the end of the exercise three Focus Groups, a women’s group, a men’s group, and an elders group, were convened to gather feedback on the impact of the project. The feedback from these groups indicated that the exercise engaged a large percentage of people in the church and helped them take a step to enhance the Great Commandment environment. The Focus Groups provided valuable information for how to improve the various aspects of the exercise and proved invaluable for the development and implementation of any spiritual growth exercise at any church.

CONGREGATIONAL DIVERSITY AS A SPIRITUAL STRENGTH: RECOGNIZING OUR COMMON IDENTITY IN CHRIST IN THE BIBLICAL METANARRATIVE

Author
David Kosobucki D.Min.
Abstract
The purpose of this research is to gauge the appreciation for diversity in the congregation of Horizon Christian Fellowship Central as a spiritual strength, based upon a common identity in Christ as expressed through the biblical metanarrative. The church in question is based near downtown Indianapolis. It is diverse from the standpoint of ethnicity or race as well as socioeconomically, meaning a full spectrum of class, income and educational levels are represented. It is also multigenerational, displaying an age range from high school students that come from the neighborhood without their parents to the elderly. Nonetheless, there are under 100 adults that attend on a typical Sunday, meaning this variety of people interacts on a constant basis.

The author delivered a fourteen-part series of teachings that went through the Bible from beginning to end. Seven messages came from the Old Testament and seven more from the New. These messages explored the themes of unity, diversity and our identity in Christ. The author concurrently led three rounds of focus groups consisting of three groups each, which met in homes to discuss the above themes as they appear throughout the Bible. Groups met before, during and after the teaching series.

In the focus groups, the church displayed an appreciation for the theme of diversity as it appears in the Bible. They seemed reluctant to speak in terms of the biblical metanarrative, though they saw the metanarrative as the foundation for their identity in Christ. They accepted this as their primary personal identity and something they shared with one another. Further, this congregation valued its own diversity, believing that it equipped them to relate and reach out to a greater variety of people. These views were reinforced rather than initiated by the teaching series, meaning people already held the views.

Moving from doing ministry for people to do ministry with people : a model developed for ministry approach

Author
Braulio Torres
Abstract
How can we intentionally move from doing ministry for people, to doing ministry with the people? This project presents an analytical process of a model developed as a way to help local churches focus their efforts on doing ministry with people. The model asks us to consider the activities of the local church using three components: biblical foundation, contextual focus, and practical application. The reader will discover that this model can be applied to any ministry endeavor.

[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.]

Seeing visions and dreaming dreams : a case study of revitalizing god's visions for Westminster United Methodist Church

Author
Malcolm R. Stranathan
Abstract
Upon returning to two-hundred-year-old, county-seat church, the new lead pastor and a diverse group of twelve members worked to discern God's vision for the congregation. Two years on, this project was implemented to evaluate and refocus ownership of God's vision by the congregation. Using congregation behavioral surveys, a worship series based on Joel, and a balcony team (congregation's leaders and the lead pastor-- who served as consultant) planned, implemented and evaluated the congregational members' ownership of God's mission, vision and core values. A VisionWork tool evaluated the vitality and fruitfulness of existing ministries and created a refocused passion and revitalized mission to serve the community beyond the church's walls.

[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.]

Spirit-led design : creating a congregational model for innovation

Author
Beth Ludlum
Abstract
The author led a research team that created a pilot program to test how human-centered design thinking can be adapted and applied in congregational settings. The team repurposed and supplemented existing resources to create a year-long curriculum for five congregations to experiment with new approaches to engage young adults. The team monitored effectiveness by soliciting reports at three junctures during the year; conducting individual interviews with participants; and collecting data through surveys. The program analysis suggests that a defined process, effective tools, and regular accountability are essential for congregations to be truly innovative rather than slipping into “quick fixes” or familiar programming.

[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.]

Developing a theological vision : reclaiming the role of the local church

Author
Richard A. Hoffman
Abstract
The basis for the project is a commitment to the transformational aspect of the gospel of grace. It provides tools that will train, equip, and empower people in the local church to meet the diverse, complex and ever-present needs of their community. The author created and taught an eighteen week course where the students began by focusing on the foundational aspects of the gospel, then on to Theological Vision which acts as a bridge between belief and ministry expression. The course concluded by exploring the practical steps required to launch into a community based project of their own. The result of the inaugural course was several students taking the necessary steps to launch a ministry expression focused on a particular need within their community.

[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.]

Focusing the local congregation on missional discipleship as a means of congregational renewal

Author
Joseph Jathaniel Cavitt
Abstract
How can the vitality of Colonial Park United Methodist Church be impacted by a central focus on a practical theology of missional discipleship as it is implemented in the life of the church? The author’s project focused on a practical theology of missional discipleship during the first eighteen months of his pastoral appointment working to develop spiritual leadership and missionally reorienting this congregation. Through listening sessions, classes, training, and organizational restructuring processes, the congregation has grown in mission and has shown statistical growth indicating a beginning of a turnaround.

[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.]

Exploring the DNA of Oxon Hill United Methodist Church : and its impact on the church's ability to live a missional existence

Author
Patricia Allen
Abstract
The author explored the relational impact of local community and church history on the congregation, the decision making processes of the church, and the possibility of reimagining and repurposing these influences for the manifestation of biblical community. The author conducted a book review, facilitated a spiritual gifts inventory, led a bible study, and engaged a pastoral leadership assessment tool to assess the ability of the church to identify historical influences and potential opportunities for new understanding. The analysis of the responses gleaned from these experiences is the church's deeply entrenched understanding of community cannot easily be reimagined for different results.

[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.]

"Lessons of Hospitality in the Parables of Jesus: Inspiring a Congregation to Transform Its Ways of Loving and Serving Neighbors"

Author
Joan Warren Gandy D.Min.
Abstract
This project proposes that lessons of hospitality in the parables of Jesus can inspire a congregation to transform its ways of loving and serving neighbors. The congregation took part in an eight-week study with multiple opportunities to engage the parables each week. Research methods included ethnographic practices of listening, observing, and reading historical documents; written surveys to gauge how participants viewed congregational hospitality and service to neighbors before and after the study; and practical theological methods such as reflection/action and the four tasks of practical theological interpretation. The research discloses the power of parables to stir hearts for neighborhood mission.

EXPOUNDING ROMANS 6-8 TO ADVANCE GREAT COMMISSION OBEDIENCE IN THE LEADERSHIP AT MAYFIELD MISSIONARY BAPTIST CHURCH, FORT WORTH, TEXAS

Author
Larry Hall D.Min.
Abstract
The writer is the pastor of a Missionary Baptist congregation. In a self-appraisal survey, congregational leaders ranked Great Commission obedience low among ministry priorities. This project investigated the question: Can a pastoral approach in expounding Romans 6-8 be effective in developing a Great Commission theology and in advancing Great Commission obedience for select leaders at Mayfield Missionary Baptist Church, Fort Worth, Texas. The project pursues two goals: 1) to develop the theology of the participants and 2) to develop pastoral preaching effectiveness.
The research design combined both the qualitative and quantitative method. The writer designed seven sermons from Romans 6-8 in a series entitled Gospel Assurance, a Motivation to Great Commission Obedience. The writer expounded selected doctrinal themes from the Biblical text to develop elements of a Great Commission theology in the participants. Using a pastoral approach, the writer selected eight congregational leaders to participate in a small group to give feedback on the preaching effectiveness. In addition, the participants completed a pre and post project questionnaire to indicate theological understanding, opinion surveys, and interviews. The writer assessed the participants’ awareness, attitudes and actions in relation to the Matthew 28:18-20 mandate to make disciples.
The writer diagnosed the participants’ gain in theological understanding and simultaneously increased pastoral preaching effectiveness through small group feedback. The writer and participants advanced toward Great Commission obedience.
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