Pastoral theology


Christopher Allen Oliveri D.Min.
A distorted view of the gospel leads to distorted Christian lives. This is particularly true when believers try to live the Christian life without an awareness of what the gospel says about their union with Christ. In this condition they become vulnerable to two grave spiritual dangers legalism and licentiousness. The Indicative / Imperative construct can bring clarity and help against the debilitating effects of these two detrimental spiritual conditions. This construct is found especially in the Pauline epistles (Eph. 4:1ff.; Rom. 12:1ff.) as the Apostle boldly declares to the recipients who they are in Christ (indicative) and then how they must live anew on the basis of this new spiritual identity (imperative).

This project utilized qualitative research techniques to explore the use of the Indicative / Imperative Construct as a pastoral tool for spiritual formation. The researcher preached a series of seven sermons highlighting the Indicative / Imperative construct in the writings of Paul. A focus group of twelve participants gathered weekly following each sermon. A pre and post focus group survey was utilized along with weekly homework assignments. A group interview was conducted during the eighth and final focus group gathering. Four weeks after the final focus group meeting, each participant took part in an individual interview. A trained participant observer recorded field notes throughout each focus group session. These notes, in combination with the researcher’s observational notes, provided a multilayered data set for evaluation as the project progressed.

After evaluating the data results, trends towards spiritual growth in connection with a deepening grasp of the Indicative / Imperative Construct became apparent in the lives of several project participants. There were other trends in the data that were not overwhelmingly conclusive however, the researcher learned several lessons from this project that will impact his ministry for years to come.

An Evaluation of Arab Evangelistic Efforts of Jewish People in Israel

Moshe Loewenthal D.Min.
This applied research project aimed to evaluate the reasons why the Arab Christian body of believers in Israel does not evangelize Israeli Jews. This research consisted of three parts: (1) Clarification of theological views that hinder Jewish evangelism; (2) Surveys to detect the reasons why evangelism is not done; (3) Interviews with Arab leaders and one messianic pastor to gain their perspective on the reasons why Arab brothers and sisters are not evangelizing to the Jews.

This project had three hypotheses:

• There is a lack of Jewish Evangelism from the Arab Christians toward the Jewish people in Israel because of the difference in culture and politics.
• There is a lack of Jewish Evangelism from the Arab Christians toward the Jewish people in Israel because of a lack of knowledge in how to do it.
• There is a lack of evangelism from the Arab Christians toward the Jewish people in Israel because of their belief in replacement theology.

The first two surveys were given to Arab Christian leaders and believers of churches from Israel. The surveys focused on their spiritual life, politics, the land of Israel, and Zionism. They ended with asking about their engagement in Jewish evangelism. I hoped to discover whether Jewish evangelism exists and if not, why.

The surveys and interviews of the Arab leaders and pastors in Israel evaluated whether the hypotheses were correct and helped discover the next steps for change regarding Jewish evangelism from our Arab brothers and sisters in Israel. The surveys and interviews supported my hypotheses. Other issues that might hinder Arabs from sharing the gospel with Jews in Israel were found as well. These issues might become the foundation for other research projects.

Equipping Rural Pastors in Zimbabwe to Practice John Owen’s Discipline of Mortifying Sin in Their Daily Life

Stephen Douglas Skinner ThM
This project introduced John Owen’s biblical discipline of mortifying sin to twenty-five rural pastors in Zimbabwe. These pastors serve the Lord in regions that limit their access to training and biblical resources. Through the implementation of Owen’s, The Mortification of Sin in the Life of the Believer, these men learned the biblical discipline of daily fighting against the tendency of catering to their residual sin. After they thoroughly read Owen’s work, and signed an agreement to participate letter, an assessment of their spiritual health was made and evaluated through the completion of a spiritual health survey. This was followed by attending a 32-hour seminar, where each man received a conference book. The material had been abridged and edited into a ten-session format. The course was taught at the Peniel Training Center in Hope Fountain, Zimbabwe. At the conclusion of the course, each pastor was asked to summarize this experience in an essay, and each received a certificate of completion.

Preaching as an Element of Transformation and Pastoral Accompaniment in a Multicultural Community in the Midst of a Pandemic

Edwin Cotto-Pérez D.Min.

This thesis project has been developed with a qualitative method to respond to the homiletical problem of how preaching can be an essential element in the intentional effort to provide pastoral care that promotes transformation, encouragement, accompaniment, and spiritual care to congregations and community viewers of religious services through Tamiami United Methodist Church in Miami, Florida, USA. The thesis also proposes how the church can become available to care for the pain, grievance, difficulty, and anguish in times of a health emergency and economic contraction such as COVID-19.


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.
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