Small groups

Pastoring Evolving Faiths: Faith Deconstruction and Reconstruction in a Post-Evangelical Church

Author
Stephen David Schmidt D.Min.
Abstract
Faith deconstruction and reconstruction have become a religious cultural phenomenon in 21st century America. It is an experience lamented by conservative evangelical and fundamentalist leaders as a step toward apostasy. But deconstruction is also a vital practice of those seeking to retain an authentic spirituality while challenging the authoritative and often regressive doctrines and practices of their traditional church. The goal of faith reconstruction is a revitalized, more compassionate, progressive, and inclusive belief system; one that rejects ancient perspectives of an angry God and embraces a perspective of a more loving and gracious God.
The act of ministry at the heart of this doctoral thesis project was implementing the “Evolving Faiths Discussion Group” in an inter-denominational church in Norman, Oklahoma. The goal was to provide a “safe space” where Christians from fundamentalist and evangelical backgrounds could openly discuss their questions and doubts about the faith they inherited, and explore more palatable alternative theologies. The intent was to provide a regular place and time, resources, and fellow deconstructors to explore those concerns. The desired outcome was that the participants would continue faith exploration as a life-long journey, become comfortable with questions as normative of spiritual health, and experience an enhanced connection with God and the world (3Cs).
The project engaged in action research, and employed adapted elements from heuristic phenomenology and ethnography. The thesis examines a recent social history of the “Fall of American evangelicalism,” and the “Rise of the Spiritual But Not Religious.” It constructs a biblical defense of deconstruction, describes the implementation of the Discussion Group, presents an analysis of five core evangelical themes as they affected the participants with a composite summary of the group experience as a whole, and concludes with some pastoral reflections.

A Collaborative Model to Increase Confidence for Preaching in Young Adults at Rosthern Seventh-day Adventist Church, Saskatchewan

Author
Carvil Antoney Richards D.Min.
Abstract
This portfolio aimed to develop a collaborative model with six young adults of the Rosthern Seventh-day Adventist Church, Saskatchewan, to increase their confidence for preaching. A three-phase process was required to train the small group. The first phase involved allowing a few young adults to discuss the implication of an assigned Bible passage through the inductive Bible study method. The second phase involved training them to preach; the third phase allowed them to preach. For this portfolio, only the first phase was examined. The participants’ involvement included choosing four Bible passages to develop into four sermons.
This portfolio has V chapters. Chapter I is the introduction, which gives a general overview of the portfolio while chapter II focuses on the researcher’s personal journey and ministry context. Chapter III is about the author’s philosophy of leadership, which governed and guided his ministry practice; chapter IV examines the field research; and chapter V is the conclusion and implication.
The data collection methods used for this research were reflective journaling, participant observation and a survey. While there were things that could have been done differently in the research for a more effective outcome, the project’s conclusion revealed that the young adults’ confidence was increased through their contributions in the group collaboration.

Empowerment of women in the Catholic Church : An experimental study in group process

Author
Marie Olwell
Abstract
The Catholic Church limits the participation of women both in its decision-making process and liturgical worship. This research explores how women in the Roman Catholic Church may be enabled to change their understanding and attitudes to claim a unique form of power within the Church's structure through education, discussion and small group interaction.

The method followed in this research took the design of a seminar. The methodology used involved a series of seven two-hour seminar sessions. Each seminar included education on topics related to women's issues in the Church: Women's culture and Spiritual Origins, Scripture and Spirituality, Power, Patriarchy and Sexism and Family of Origin. The format of the sessions included input, discussion, sharing,journaling, experiential activity and ritual. Reading assignments were taken from updated materials written by women researchers, theologians and scripture scholars. Eleven women from the ages of 32 to 65 from a white suburban local Catholic Church participated in the project. Their marital status, education, theology background and family of origin varied. At the initial session, each participant filled out three formulated questionnaires related to (a) Women's status within the Church, (b) self-esteem and (c) feelings regarding power. All these questionnaires were re-administered at the end of the course to evaluate whether any major changes took place. The most powerful instrument for women in this study occurred in the more intimate form of a personal interview where the opportunity of an in-depth sixty to ninety minute conversation with each participant took place three months following the seminar's termination. These interviews focused on seven questions relative to the seminar's objectives: (1) To what extent did the participants exhibit a heightened awareness and enthusiasm? (2) How have the participants' views of empowerment been affected by the seminar? (3) How has the group contributed to the overall process of the seminar?

Equipping Members to Practice Biblical Soul Care in Life Groups at Providence Baptist Church, Raleigh, North Carolina

Author
Bryan Daniel Nelson D.Ed.Min.
Abstract
This project sought to equip members of Providence Baptist Church in Raleigh, North Carolina to practice biblical soul care in Life Groups. Chapter 1 presents the history and ministry context of Providence, the purpose and goals of this project, and the methodology used. Chapter 2 addresses care as a vital component of healthy discipleship; showing biblical soul care flows from God, is motivated by love, reflects Christ, and is best practiced in community by exegesis of several passages of scripture (2 Cor 1:3-7, 1 John 4:7-12, and Heb 10:24-25). Chapter 3 highlights the history and language of soul care, the relationship between care and discipleship, the responsibility of soul care for every believer, and necessity of care being rooted in God’s Word. Chapter 4 outlines the project and addresses specific methodology and equipping content. And Chapter 5 evaluates the efficacy of the project based on the completion of its specific goals.

Equipping Selected Adult Bible Study Leaders of Philadelphia Baptist Church in Alexandria and DeVille, Louisiana, in Small-group, Multiplication Practices

Author
Andrew L. Orr
Abstract
The purpose of this project was to equip selected adult Bible study leaders of Philadelphia Baptist Church in Alexandria and Deville, Louisiana, in small group multiplication practices. The project director researched the field of multiplication practices to gain a better understanding of various settings including community, business, and religious practices. Once the research was underway, the project director reported on the findings and sought to establish a connection between successful group multiplication practices and application in a specific religious setting. He wrote a curriculum to present to the adult small group Sunday school and Bible study leaders at Philadelphia Baptist Church. The project director taught the curriculum to equip teachers and leaders with practices in multiplying themselves as leaders in the Sunday school and small group ministry at both the initial location in Deville, Louisiana, and the revitalized church location (Horseshoe Drive) in Alexandria, Louisiana.

Equipping Leaders for Missional Small Groups at Oak Grove Baptist Church Burleson, TX

Author
Brady Logan Lock D.Min.
Abstract
This project sought to equip leaders of Oak Grove Baptist Church in Burleson, Texas, (OGBC) to lead missional small groups. Chapter 1 presents the history and ministry context of OGBC and the goals of this project. Chapter 2 provides an exegesis of three passages of Scripture (Acts 2:42-47; Matt. 19:16-22; Col. 3:12-17) to show that discipleship occurs in the everyday missional living of the believer, not merely in the educational sphere of the church. Chapter 3 presents the historical/practical/theoretical ideas behind missional small groups. Chapter 4 describes the project itself, recounting the content and teaching methodology of the specific course curriculum. Chapter 5 evaluates the efficacy of the project based on the completion of the specified goals. Ultimately, this project sought to equip Christians with the confidence and competency to minister to fellow sinners and sufferers with the truth of the gospel and the love of Jesus Christ.

Criteria for the Development of a Small Group Model for the Second Baptist Church Of Macaé

Author
Ivis Costa Fernandes D.Min.
Abstract
Many churches live in search of the new model of ecclesiastical functioning that will lead them to the proper care of the flock and to growth. Some varied from one model to the next, in an endless search. Others have been frustrated and are disappointed with the possibility of healthy growth. This is the reality of many churches regarding small group models. What will help churches to develop healthy small groups is a comprehensive understanding of the topic, from some essential perspectives.

The objective of the research was to identify criteria that would guide the Second Baptist Church of Macaé to build a new model of small group ministry suited to its reality and needs. The literature review pointed to six hypotheses of guiding criteria. From in-depth interviews with eight pastors and church leaders with strong small-group ministries, the hypotheses were confirmed.

The research concludes with a proposal of procedure for the implementation of the ministry in the church, as well as suggestions of themes for future studies, which can help in the deepening of practical questions of the research.

TRAINING SMALL GROUP LEADERS TO LEAD THE EMERGING ADULTS OF TRINITY CHURCH OF THE NAZARENE

Author
John Michael Barefield D.Min.
Abstract
This Doctor on Ministry project created a training program to train small group leaders to lead the emerging adults for Trinity Church of the Nazarene in Charlotte, North Carolina. This project shared the concerns of the church in losing emerging adults after they graduate from high school. The project explored the concerns of the emerging adult generation. The literature research included the writings of Chap Clark, Kara E. Powell, David Kinnaman, Corey Seemiller, Meghan Grace, Pew Research, and others.

This qualitative research project focused on how to train leaders to lead a small group of emerging adults. This project was conducted in three phases. The first phase presented in a six-part sermon series to the congregation. The second phase interviewed emerging adult participants. The third phase trained small group leaders to lead emerging adults.

This project helped the congregation, and small group leaders, to have a better understanding of emerging adults. The small group leaders gained confidence in leading emerging adults. The pastor learned to be sensitive to the needs, interests, and values of the emerging adults in his congregation.

An Evaluation of the Community Foundations Curriculum for Enhancing Interpersonal Relationships Among Church-Based Small Group Participants

Author
Sten-Erik Armitage D.Min.
Abstract
The purpose of this applied research project is to evaluate the Community Foundations curriculum in the context of the local church as a potential means to address the problems that emerge in the church through the foundation of the unscriptural societal value of individualism and the subsequent epidemic of loneliness. The project seeks to determine the overall effectiveness of the curriculum in three key areas: grounding the community in understanding the significance of what it is to be “in Christ,” providing opportunities for small groups to cultivate a desire to both know and be known within the context of a trusted community, and finally to cultivate an environment wherein a burden of care is embraced and felt within said community.

The research centers on qualitative interviews with participants in the Beta launch of the Community Foundations curriculum. The Beta launch occurred between Spring 2018 and Fall 2019. Three hypotheses geared around the key areas addressed above are presented and evaluated through the content of the recorded interviews.

The research results indicate deeper and more sustainable relationships were cultivated through these small group experiences as well as a new appreciation for the value of shared story in the context of community.

Study on activating Methodist class meeting and faith growth through "Bubu Sok-hoe" (married couple class meeting)

Author
Dong Uk Cho
Abstract
[In this project paper, the author examines how a church or ministry can] "develop effective methods [of inclusion] so that young adults' groups can participate in class meetings, actively serve small group missions, and grow their faith through 'Bubu-Sokhoe' (young adults and couple class meetings). 'Bubu-Sokhoe' carefully invites young couples based on their age, and whether or not they have children. Members are expected to feel comfortable, reach a consensus, and be ready to step into service and mission. This project focuses on the 'vitality of the small group', ways to encourage participation, and become responsible leaders through 'Bubu-Sokhoe.'" -- Leaf [2].
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