Pastoral theology


Lawrence Bowlin D.Min.
The paper begins with an extensive survey of the Biblical call to watchfulness in the Old and New Testaments showing not only that it is a recurring theme in Scripture but that it is a foundational theme in the context of spiritual warfare from Genesis chapter three through Revelation chapter twenty, for as long as God’s people live in a fallen world.
This theme is also plainly manifested throughout Church history and particularly so in the writings of the English Puritans. One would be hard pressed to find a single Puritan author who did not address this topic and that repeatedly as a matter of life or death in terms of one’s spirituality and the healthiness of a church overall. This project highlights some of the more prominent Puritan authors in how they exhorted their people to watch over their own hearts, to watch over their brothers in love, and to humbly receive the watchful care of their church elders.
The call to watchfulness is then evaluated today in light of contemporary spiritual renewal movements and the reclamation of the spiritual disciplines, in the context of Christian counseling, and in church growth literature, all of which touch on this theme of watchfulness and seem to be moving in a direction of greater accountability in the normal Christian life.
This project attempts to integrate the findings from these Scriptural, theological historical, and contemporary elements into a new model of ministry designed to equip the members of a church with the necessary tools to watch over their brothers’ hearts in addition to their own and to humbly receive the watchful care and correction of Christ’s undershepherds. These tools are in the form of sermons, scripts, and seminars.

Bowen Family Systems Theory and Christian ministry: an appraisal and application

J. Wesley White D.Min.
The thesis question of this project is, “Is differentiation of self a helpful concept for Christian ministry?” The project begins with a careful explanation of what differentiation of self means in the context of Bowen Family Systems Theory (BFST), explaining that it primarily relates to distinguishing the emotional from the intellectual process and developing the ability to act deliberately in terms of reason and principle as well as feeling.
The project examines various passages of Scripture to seek a parallel between the teaching of Scripture and the understanding of differentiation of self in BFST. This investigation demonstrates that while the words are not present, the concept is extremely important in Scripture. The project then considers parallels to differentiation of self in church history, particularly noting the parallels with a variety of explanations of virtue ethics. The project then provides a summary of modern scholarship on this issue. It concludes that writers on these topics find the concept of differentiation of self to be helpful to ministry while also critiquing the secular concept of differentiation of self in BFST as needing the purpose of God’s kingdom and the grace of God for implementation.
Finally, a model for ministry is developed in an outline and explanation of a seminar. This seminar is designed to introduce ministers and ministry leaders to the concept of differentiation of self in ministry and show its utility for a variety of ministry contexts when placed in the context of Christian theological concerns and spiritual development.

Toward an Effective Pastoral Mentoring Strategy:
E. K. Bailey’s Training of Prospective Pastoral Candidates

Felix Caston D.Min.
This dissertation examines the pastoral mentoring strategy utilized by E. K. Bailey at Concord Baptist Church to train young preachers to become pastors.
Chapter 1 introduces E. K. Bailey and provides his ministry credentials. It also establishes the need for training preachers to be resourceful in serving churches of a new generation.
Chapter 2 shares Bailey’s biography and gives a synopsis of his life while documenting experiences, accomplishments, and individuals that shaped his life.
Chapter 3 gives an overview of Bailey’s Ministry Strategy, including development, implementation, and goals.
Chapter 4 includes an analysis of Bailey’s Ministry Strategy. An examination is done of the target of his ministry and the expected outcome.
Chapter 5 examines the implementation of Bailey’s Ministry Strategy at Concord Baptist Church, along with an assessment of how it impacted Concord.
Chapter 6 concludes the dissertation and offers areas for further research, as well as, recommendations how this dissertation can be used by pastors in preparing young preachers to become pastors.

A Pastoral Approach to Preaching Difficult Texts

Brian James Lays D.Min.
This project proposes that preaching difficult texts with pastoral sensitivity can produce edifying sermons, proving useful certain texts of the Bible which have been excluded from the lectionary and thereby written off as irrelevant or even harmful to the Church. Six challenging biblical texts, from Genesis, Exodus, Psalms, Isaiah, Matthew, and Acts, none of which appear in the Revised Common Lectionary, are presented to a focus group for study and feedback. Utilizing data from the focus group, a sermon will be prepared from each text, and the focus group will evaluate whether or not each sermon proved the challenging biblical text useful.


Sha (Simona) Zeng D.Min.
Genealogies have been one of the least studied literary forms in biblical scholarship over the years. This major project designs a seminary curriculum on the genealogy of Matthew and contends that Matthew’s Gospel, a synoptic and historical record similar to Chronicles, closely follows the Chronicler’s ideology and methodology. Thus, Matthew’s genealogy is purposefully devised to contain breaks (which I define as every insertion and deviation beyond the normal pattern of father begat son in the genealogy). These breaks highlight the numerical discrepancy of generations which are based on the pattern and concept of Chronicles are used to convey the unique Matthean message, and also function as an introduction to the whole book, just as the genealogies in Chronicles. The interpretations of the breaks and the numerical discrepancy of generations show a Christ-centered, suffering theology-based yet hope filled, and incarnation-powered life for Christians as well as an inclusive mindset, marginal-esteemed mentality, retribution-saturated, and cultic-oriented ministry for churches in addition to an influential-exerted leadership.

This project does more than teach the genealogy per se; instead, it explains the canonical priority of Matthew in the New Testament, enhances the knowledge of canonical reading of Scripture through studying the relationship between Chronicles and Matthew, demonstrates connections between the Old Testament and New Testament, contributes appreciation for often ignored portions of Scripture, identifies synoptic relationships in different parts of the Bible, teaches a way of interpreting the synoptic texts, strengthens the ability to read the biblical text, provides the transformational applications for Christian life and church ministry from the interpretations, includes the suggestions of improving the curriculum through multiple evaluation instruments, and provides plans for future teaching ministry. Moreover, lessons learned throughout the execution of the project will hopefully increase my own pedagogical effectiveness in general.

Preaching Through Grief to Wholeness

Dava Cruise Hensley D.Min.
Grief and Loss are ever present in the life of the church. Death, illness, and change are ongoing events in the gathered community. Such loss is often accompanied by grief and at times, unrecognized and therefore, unresolved. This thesis is directed at naming unresolved grief and through intentional preaching which address grief, offers a legitimate and helpful way to address grief and can be the beginning of the process for healing to move through grief to wholeness using preaching as a tool of pastoral care. In this study, a Parish Support Group (PSG) selected from members of the congregation met before and after the preaching moments to evaluate if grief acknowledged from the pulpit allowed the congregation to begin to name grief. Interviews, questionnaires, and narrative stories were used in the evaluation process by the PSG and congregation. The logic method was used as evaluation of the resources needed to work through grief made changes in the community in vital ways. The congregation displayed evidence of movement as the grieving process was addressed being more willing to move beyond the pews and serve more in the neighborhood.

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.


Samuel Lapsley Pendergrast D.Min.
In Utica Presbytery we have eleven Commissioned Ruling Elders (CREs) serving twelve congregations out of thirty in the presbytery. I interviewed twelve CREs who are currently serving or who have served as pastors to learn about their experience and how they evaluate their work, training, and relationship with colleagues in the presbytery. The interview results were categorized, then the group of CREs discussed the results. We developed recommendations for the presbytery in a variety of areas. In the report I interpret the results in light of pastoral theology and the history of ordination. Questions for further study emerge concerning the difference between seminary-trained pastors and commissioned elders, presbytery mission strategy for using CREs, and contextual theological education.

Strengthening Pastoral Identity in Army Chaplains: The Effect of Spiritual Mentoring on Mentors as a Way to Develop Pastoral Identity

Douglas Ball
Army Chaplains are in a struggle between various identities within in a system that reinforces and rewards those identities outside the historic pastoral role. This thesis explores how spiritual mentoring can foster, maintain, and revitalize pastoral identity in mid-level chaplains serving as mentors. The author defines and explains pastoral identity; shows that spiritual mentoring is a biblical and necessary aspect of pastoral ministry; and explores the possibility of strengthening pastoral identity in Army chaplains through spiritual mentoring. However, unlike most approaches to spiritual mentoring for pastoral formation, the goal of this project was not primarily the formation of the mentee, but rather the formation of the mentor. Chaplains who serve as mentors are engaging in a historically pastoral activity which will clarify and strengthen their own pastoral identity. The project engaged mid-level and junior chaplains in short-term spiritual mentoring relationships and measured indicators of pastoral identity through a sequential mixed methods approach (pre-surveys, post-surveys, and interviews). Overall, both quantitative and qualitative data supports spiritual mentoring as a method for identity change and formation within the Army Chaplain Corps.

A Phenomenology of Authentic Leadership

Joshua James Tilley D.Min.
Objective: To grasp the characteristics and essence of authentic leadership as seen and experienced through the lives of those who have served under and/or over those they perceive and identify as “authentic” or “high quality” leaders.

Method: A literary review and a biblical review were conducted to establish the current scholarship related to authentic leadership. A new phenomenological study was conducted in October of 2018. 12 individuals were interviewed either in person, by phone, or via a video chat.
Results: The result was a literary study, a biblical review, and a new phenomenological study of authentic leadership.

Conclusions: Through the phenomenology and subsequent qualitative research, the researcher came to the conclusion that authentic leadership is provided, felt, and acted upon in different ways by different people in different cultures, but the one universal essence of authentic leadership is the paradox of “relief” and “peace” preceded by a sense of “anxiety” and “pressure,” which is provoked within the follower by the leader. Trust is built through the process.
A model of existential peace is offered to demonstrate this meaning, but no model for creating an authentic leadership is presented as a phenomenology does not provide the groundwork needed to establish such a theory. All cultures represent leadership in different ways, so further research would need to be conducted to create such a model.
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