Spiritual formation

Building a Discipleship Culture for the Re-Missioning of Millersville Brethren in Christ Church

Author
Christopher John Freet
Abstract
Reports of disciple-making movements and church-planting movements continue to grow and gain steam around the globe. Interestingly, very few movements have been recorded in the Western Church setting. An aspect of global church movements entails the utilization of easily reproducible systems and structures while equipping new disciples to carryout Jesus’ disciple-making call in the world. One tool that is used in these movements is the Discovery Bible Study method. Relying on this tool and implementing it within the discipleship process of Millersville Brethren in Christ Church in an attempt to build a culture of disciple-making discipleship has proved to have the opposite effect in the life of the church. Disciple-making in the Western Church context needs to be contextualized to its local context, patient in its approach, with an understanding that discipleship can and must take place in and through various modes and methods. There is no one-size-fits-all approach to the discipleship process.

Towards a Reformed Evangelical Program of Spiritual Formation at Ryle Seminary, Ottawa

Author
Shaun Minett Turner D.Min.
Abstract
In this research portfolio the author seeks to articulate a form of reformed-evangelical spiritual formation and apply it to ministry formation training in both military and civilian ministry training contexts. The author sees spiritual formation as stripping off the old self and putting on the new self by looking to Jesus. Research is presented which shows that this formation often leads to greater resilience in ministry and life, as well as an increased awareness of, and dependence on, God’s sovereign grace, leading to a deeper sense of discerning God’s voice every day. The author used three parts: a personal spiritual autobiography, a model of spiritual formation in the reformed-evangelical tradition, and a field research project using appreciative inquiry to develop an integrated spiritual formation program at a reformed-evangelical seminary in Ottawa, Canada. The author was successful in using an appreciative approach to engage the students of the Seminary to design a program that was accepted by an expert panel of school administration, denominational leadership, and student leadership. This research portfolio provides both a practical model of spiritual formation in the reformed-evangelical tradition and a means of tailoring this model, through appreciative inquiry, to specific contexts.

Forgiveness: The Heart of God

Author
Marcia C. King D.Min.
Abstract
Painful forgiveness issues often exist within families, even within the church. To understand what the Bible, theologians, and social scientists say about forgiveness, the story of Joseph and the Parable of the Prodigal Son were exegeted. The pastoral aspects of forgiveness were explored utilizing an ethnographic approach of, observations, a survey, and one-on-one interviews. The results of this project is a five-hour course, "Forgiveness: The Heart of God," which emphasizes the transformational power of Christ in forgiveness. The last class concludes with a Eucharistic prayer retreat for generational and inner healing.
Painful forgiveness issues often exist within families, even within the church.

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

Author
Douglas Ball
Abstract
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.

Finding Peace in Union with Christ through the Practice of Contemplation

Author
Gary W Brouwers
Abstract
Believers in Jesus exist in a powerful unsion with the ecodn person of the Trinity. Through this union, believers have access to everything that Jesus is, including the ability to expereince peace regardless of circumstances. This thesis examinded how a growing awreness of one's union with Jesus affects one's experience of anxiety. Using a mixed method phenomenological study, 46 participants spent increasingly longer periods of time contemplating on thier union with Christ. Anxiety levels were tested using pretexts and posttests of Beck's Anxiety Indicator (BAI). Participants kept records of their experiences using Likert-style scales as well as written journals. Data from BAI, the individual records, and a focus group were triangulated and compared. The results indicated that anxiety levels were reduced in 63 percent of participants. In addition , the data revealed common themes among the experiences of the participants, including strong expressions of God's love, continuing effects of peace beyond the period of contemplation and an appreciation for the structure and accountability of the project. In addition, most participants reported experiences of frustration and confusion as they attempted to spend time in contemplation.

FROM ASHES RISE AGAIN: SPIRITUAL IDENTITY BASED RESILIENCY

Author
Charles Christopher Mason D.Min.
Abstract
The focus of this project was to consider the question of how to build and maintain resiliency. While the project was developed and implemented for chaplains in a health care system, the principles of spiritual identity based resiliency may be an answer for others looking for ways to be more resilient. Spiritual identity based resiliency at its core is a focus on understanding one’s personal value, meaning and purpose as a way to cope and be resilient in stressful and anxious situations. The project was designed to inform participants of the importance of orienting their lives on the basis of their spiritual identity, this is the means of being able to manage external and internal influential pressures that distort or confuse understanding of value, meaning and purpose. The result of a lack of focus on value, meaning and purpose is a lack of resiliency and may eventually lead to burnout.

Resiliency-Based Spiritual Support: A Preventative Approach Empowering Spiritual Resiliency in Clinical Pastoral Education Students at Duke University Hospital, Durham, North Carolina

Author
Michael Gross
Abstract
Resiliency-Based Spiritual Support: A Preventative Approach was designed to empower a minister's spiritual resiliency practices. These practices allow him/her to courageously navigate the seasons of ministry and bounce back from stressful experiences. The six-week curriculum intervention for clinical pastoral education participants involved control and intervention groups. It focused on five spiritual resiliency themes (community, hope, sound of the genuine, meditation, stewardship) and related spiritual resiliency practices. Research methods included quantitative and qualitative instruments. Post-training evaluation scores evidenced participants were empowered by a greater understanding of the biblical/theological foundations and exploration of practices. Participants did recommend spiritual resiliency training for clergy.

Discovery and integration: A framework of spiritual formation for the leadership team of via faith community, Winston-Salem, NC

Author
Linda Marie Jones
Abstract
For the Lord is the Spirit, and wherever the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. So all of us who have had that veil removed can see and reflect the glory of the Lord. And the Lord-who is the Spirit-makes us more and more like him as we are changed into his glorious image. (2 Corinth, 3:17-18, NLT )

The process of spiritual formation can be seen throughout all of scripture; men and women, growing in faith, learning to truly love God, themselves and God's people. There is something so special to be on this journey of faith with a loving, laughing, growing group of Christians as we learn to be mature, committed, faith-filled people of God. This project endeavored to take the leaders of Via Faith Community through a five week spiritual formation process, hoping to create a higher functioning, more spiritually mature leadership team. Utilizing prayer, Lectio Divina, sermons, Bible studies, and assessments of personality, spiritual gifts, leadership and conflict style in a weekly workshop session and worship service, the hearts and minds of the leadership team were awakened, as they discovered and integrated the biblical and theological principles of humanity, created in God's image and given unique personalities, abilities, experiences, and spiritual gifts through the work of the Holy Spirit, in order to effectively join God in the work of the Kingdom of God.

A PILOT PROGRAM OF SERMON-BASED COMMUNITY GROUPS FOR INTER-CITY BAPTIST CHURCH

Author
Daniel Winnberg D.Min.
Abstract
This project was a pilot program for adults to engage in sermon-based community groups. The goal of the project was not to define a long-term plan, but rather learn lessons for a potential future implementation of sermon-based community groups incorporated as a part of the shepherding strategy for the pastoral staff of Inter-City Baptist Church in Allen Park, Michigan.

The genesis of the project began at The Church of the Open Bible in Burlington, Massachusetts, where I served as pastor along with fellow elders. We discussed different strategies to aid us in shepherding the believers in God in our assembly, including practical steps to disciple one another. After a few small-group book studies and trial sermon-based groups were completed, it was decided to pursue a pilot program for sermon-based community groups. After having resigned as pastor there, I was afforded the opportunity to complete the project at Inter-City Baptist Church, where I served previously on pastoral staff. The project was completed with three groups: one that met on Sunday evening, a men's only group on Monday morning, and a third on Wednesday evening.

This project surveyed some biblical theological principles as a basis for sermon-based community groups. The project also surveyed some current key literature on the topic of small groups in general and sermon-based groups in particular.

The project concluded with an evaluation meeting with the pastoral staff. A good discussion took place on how the pilot program was executed, evaluation of the benefits of such a program, and a few options to be evaluated for potential future implementation in the life of the church.

EQUIPPING CHRISTIAN EDUCATION WORKERS TO SERVE AUTISTIC AND DEVELOPMENTALLY DELAYED CHILDREN AND THEIR FAMILIES

Author
Kelvin Roberts D.Min.
Abstract
There are currently gaps that exist in how the church provides support and spiritual formation for autistic children and those with other similar developmental delays. The purpose of this project is to examine the gaps that exist in the church's support of children with special needs, and the impact that the church can have by serving and supporting this population.

Traditional theological views on autism and similar conditions as well the universal church views on these conditions were examined. One objective of this project was to determine the effect these views have on the church's ability to serve and support these families, as well as to determine the amount of education necessary to provide the congregation, staff, and church leadership.

Interviews were conducted with three different families of children with special needs who have made unsuccessful attempts to attend church services. Interviews of one social service organization and two churches already addressing these issues were also conducted.

A Delphi survey with five special education experts who are also Christians was administered to glean strategies from the public-school system in teaching these children and supporting their families. Finally, compiling this information, a training course was developed in conjunction with a special education field leader that is designed to train church staff on how to work with and support special needs children and their families. The development of this training module is the key finding of this project.
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