Mission of the church

"DOCTRINE DIVIDES, SERVICE UNITES": EFFECTIVE THEOLOGICAL METHODS OF INTERRELIGIOUS DIALOGUE FOR ACHIEVING PEACEFUL CO-EXISTENCE IN MYANMAR CONTEXT

Author
Ar Naing D.Min.
Abstract
This thesis examines a practical application for effective interreligious dialogue in Myanmar. The country exists deeply rooted in religious tension and ethnic conflict. In these unstable times, some of the religious leaders and politicians are barriers to democratic transition and peaceful coexistence. In response, this thesis explores a prophetic witness of social justice in the light of the Praxis Model, a theological method of Professor Stephen B. Bevans. First, the conditions of social-religious-political injustices are examined to explain what led the country into chaos, corruption, and civil war. Then, this thesis proposes using effective, practical methods for moral and social transformation. Rather than promoting interreligious dialogue focused on doctrines that have divided people, this thesis recommends uniting people through involvement in social service activities that create common understanding and mutuality. A just and peaceful society can be created through the cooperation of Buddhist, Christian, Muslim, and Hindu religious groups by cultivating the practice of prophetic interreligious dialogue.

Language for Effective Preaching: Practical Guide for Fidei Donum Priests in the Belleville Diocese

Author
Urban Chidi Osuji D.Min.
Abstract
ABSTRACT

LANGUAGE FOR EFFECTIVE PREACHING
PRACTICAL GUIDE FOR FIDEI DONUM PRIESTS
IN THE BELLEVILLE DIOCESE

Urban Osuji, Aquinas Institute of Theology, St. Louis, Missouri.

Culture is an inherited conception that has to do with what a person learns from the parents, others, and the society about what it means to be a human being. As a child grows in the society, the child learns the culture’s general assumptions about family relations, relations between men and women, attitude towards life and death. A child learns these assumptions from parents and caregivers. There are other cultural expressions including table manners and the distribution of chores. Of all these inherited conceptions, language is the most symbolic of them all.
Language as an essential part of preaching is the subject of this thesis. The hypothesis is that Fidei Donum Priests can be effective Preachers by attending to the linguistic idioms, imageries, phrases, and sentence construction of the local congregation. The language of preaching is the concrete language of everyday life. Preaching language is the language that the children hear and understand and when they do not understand, their mothers offer a simpler understanding of the language with stories and imageries. Stories and imageries create and leave impressions on the emotional life of the people. When Priests use stories, imageries, and metaphors in preaching, listeners identify God’s presence in their midst. And that is why concrete imageries are the best tools for preaching.
But the use of concrete language in preaching does not come easy to the missionaries. Therefore, Fidei Donum Priests must immerse themselves by taking time to go to the people, live among them, share their lives and learn their language, including imageries, metaphors, and stories that have significant value for them.

Overcoming Obstacles to Churches Planting Churches

Author
Brent Frederick Burckart D.Min.
Abstract
The thesis of this dissertation is that existing churches can successfully overcome common obstacles to planting new churches when church leaders learn to adopt three vital practices: communicating a compelling vision for church planting to their congregations, cultivating a spirit of bold faith within their congregations, and implementing a sustainable church planting strategy for their congregations.

The literature review will survey some of the key literature and research on church planting generally and on the mother-daughter model of church planting specifically. Using the case study method, three churches that have successfully overcome obstacles to develop an ongoing rhythm of planting daughter churches will be analyzed through interviews and surveys. From the findings of these cases, applications will be drawn to assist other churches seeking to regularly plant daughter churches.

Work Perspectives, The Sacred/Secular Divide, and Workplace-Related Preaching, Equipping, and Church Support

Author
Joy P. Dahl D.Min.
Abstract
This study explored perspectives of work and workers, as well as potential connections between these perspectives and a lack of workplace-related preaching, equipping, and support provided by the church to congregants. This research, founded on a biblical theology of work, identifies implications for understanding church dynamics, and for dismantling beliefs and practices upholding the unbiblical sacred/secular divide.

The research engaged two groups within one church: pastors/paid church staff and congregants. The survey focused on: (1) value of work inside versus outside the church; (2) value of workers inside versus outside the church; (3) importance of work-related topics for preaching, equipping, and support within the church; and (4) adequacy of pastor/staff understanding of non-church workplaces and their ability to help congregants address workplace issues. This Doctor of Ministry project represents a unique study which evaluates perspectives of church workers and non-church workers within one church body regarding a primary area of everyday life often unaddressed or under-addressed by the church.

Two descriptive surveys, one for each group, garnered a 69.01% response rate from 71 pastors/staff, and a 9.62% response rate from 5,113 congregants. The surveys gathered quantitative responses, except for two qualitative responses regarding workplace demographics (for congregants only) which assisted the church in understanding the makeup of its non-church workers. The results of the surveys revealed that both pastors/staff and congregants within this church placed similar, high value on church and non-church work and workers. However, these perspectives did not translate into pastors/staff attributing high importance to work-related topics within church practices when compared to other topics. Additionally, both groups affirmed an inadequate understanding by pastors/staff of non-church workplaces and the daily issues congregants face.

The final chapter includes conclusions of the study and implications for future research. It also provides recommendations of potential next steps for 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.]
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