Spiritual formation

Recovering a Biblical Form of Spiritual Formation in Contemporary Pentecostal Churches

Author
Ernest Ronald Krantz D.Min.
Abstract
The project addressed the problem of an inadequate theology of spiritual formation within the discipleship doctrine of a specific expression of North American Pentecostalism. The problem manifests most acutely at the local church level where ministry leaders are struggling with divorce, mental illness, moral relativism, and poverty. Pentecostalism is failing to measure up to its potential where the human experience intersects with religious life.This project took a multilateral approach to the problem. The first approach used a theological method to survey the biblical description of spiritual formation and the existential need for it with special emphasis on The Book of Acts and the Apostle Peter.The second approach involved a literature review and content analysis. Review and analysis considered contemporary and historic theology along with behavioral science literature related to the nature of the embodied soul, human development, and the effects of religious experience on human development. The primary data was developed through a qualitative case study.Data developed through the multilateral approaches was coalesced to develop recommendations related to improving spiritual formation outcomes that facilitate God’s idea of human flourishing and good community in a local Pentecostal church.Three primary findings were discovered and discussed. Finding 1 related to a lack of commitment to formal education and clergy professionalization. Finding 2 related to critical biblical-theological knowledge gaps experienced by the case study participants. Finding 3 related to the consequences of a lack of diverse and specialized ministries at the local church level.

THE INDICATIVE / IMPERATIVE CONSTRUCT IN PAUL’S WRITINGS AS A PASTORAL TOOL FOR SPIRITUAL FORMATION

Author
Christopher Allen Oliveri D.Min.
Abstract
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.

The Dynamics of Spiritual Formation: Selected Case Studies on Christian Marital Health and its Contribution to Child Spiritual Formation

Author
John Henry Peterson Jr. D.Ed.Min.
Abstract
Baptist Minister, William Tiptaft coined this relevant declaration, “Children take more notice of what their parents do, than what they say.” Actions speak louder than words. Psychologist Albert Bandura would echo the same sentiment based upon his Bobo Doll experimentation. According to Bandura, people learn through observation, imitation, and modeling. The problem is more about what is not happening in the Christian home than what is happening in the Churches. Thus, the need to investigate the dynamic characteristics of healthy Christian marriages and the influence they have on the spiritual formation in children is a worthy study. This research will not examine the cause and effect of unhealthy marital relationships, but rather focus attention on healthy examples to extrapolate data promoting spiritual formation. The Christian husband and wife relationship plays a significant role in the spiritual formation in children. Children growing up in a family where parents consistently modeled a healthy Christian marriage are more likely to embrace a similar biblical worldview as their parents. Children who grew up in a home where a healthy Christian marriage exist will most likely take ownership of their own faith and spiritual growth as adults. Christian individuals who have parents who demonstrate healthy Christian marriages will be the participants in this study. The individuals interviewed will vary in how they perceive the influence of their parent’s marital relationship in their spiritual growth. The individuals interviewed will identify similarities between their view of life and their parents shared views. The individuals interviewed will exhibit an ongoing desire to maintain an intimate relationship with God and their spouse.

The Development and Evaluation of a Master’s Level Spiritual Formation Course at International Leadership University Kenya

Author
Gary Lenox McKnight D.Min.
Abstract
This research project evaluates the effectiveness of a redesigned master’s course in spiritual formation at promoting the spiritual formation of students at International Leadership University in Nairobi, Kenya. An intensive, two-week period of onsite instruction in Kenya would be followed by three months of student distance work. The redesign also incorporated more of what I had learned in my Doctor of Ministry studies in spiritual formation as well as my growing awareness of contextual factors in Kenya.

I argue that spiritual formation or transformation involves changes in the individual’s: (1) thinking (the cognitive domain); (2) feelings, attitudes, and values (the affective domain); and (3) behaviors (the behavioral or psychomotor domain). Thus, the effectiveness of the course redesign was evaluated based on evidence that participation led to increased (1) understanding of spiritual formation, (2) virtue in specific areas of character associated with spiritual formation, and (3) frequency of several specific types of behavior associated with spiritual formation.

The limited number of students enrolled in the class necessitated a qualitative approach to evaluation, so a focus group research design was chosen. Questions were designed for group discussion to solicit student feedback on course effectiveness. One discussion was held at the end of the two weeks of onsite instruction, while another was held at the end of the course. Additional information was obtained through self-report survey instruments administered at the beginning and end of the course to measure the students’ (1) understanding of spiritual formation, (2) virtue in specific areas of character associated with spiritual formation, and (3) frequency of several specific types of behavior associated with spiritual formation.

The responses to both the focus group questions and the survey instrument questions support the effectiveness of the redesigned course in promoting the spiritual formation of the students cognitively, affectively, and behaviorally.

Case Studies of Church Staff Cultures and Associated Factors that Contribute to the Spiritual Health of Full-Time Staff Members

Author
Ed Johnson III D.Min.
Abstract
According to this researcher, spiritual health, in the context of the Christian faith, is defined as: living a Christ-like lifestyle in thought, in speech and in actions (2 Tim 2:22; Titus 2:12), repenting and abstaining from personal sin (1 John 1:9; 1 Pet 2:11), and growing in communion, reverence and obedience to God (2 Pet 3:18; 1 Pet 1:2). The thesis of this doctoral dissertation is that there are factors within a church staff culture that impact spiritual health of full-time staff members.

At its core, this researcher posited three hypotheses to determine whether a church staff environment or ethos will positively contribute to the spiritual health of the employees who work therein: (1) An intentional ongoing investment in and evaluation of the spiritual health of staff members, (2) A sustained emphasis on both the relationship and task side of the spectrum in the day-to-day staff operations, and (3) A fundamental and predominate adoption of and alignment with biblical concepts and practices. A case study research method was selected for this project as a viable means by which to test the validity of these hypotheses. It examined the staff culture of three local American churches to analyze the results.

In the estimation of this researcher, numerous churches and pastors do not understand or have yet to realize the influence and impact a workplace culture has on their staff members’ spiritual well-being. Consequently, these types of churches and pastors tend not to have an intentional plan to establish or restructure said culture so that it positively contributes to the spiritual health of the staff. This applied research project seeks to bring awareness to this issue and to provide a way forward for churches and pastors to create, cultivate, and maintain staff cultures that foster spiritual health among their full-time staff members.

Factores Que Contribuyen a la Integración Entre el Conocimiento Teológico y la Madurez Espiritual en la Vida de la Facultad de Instituciones Teológicas

Author
Elena Vazquez González D.Min.
Abstract
Los docentes de las instituciones teológicas son personas que poseen el conocimiento teológico y necesitan continuar creciendo en su madurez espiritual.

La tesis central de este proyecto fue investigar cuáles son los factores que contribuyen a la integración entre el conocimiento teológico y la madurez espiritual en la vida de la facultad de instituciones teológicas. Las instituciones teológicas necesitan estar conscientes de la tendencia a la dicotomía entre el conocimiento teológico y la madurez espiritual en las facultades, y ante esta realidad deben buscar cómo implementar los factores que contribuyen a la integración entre ambos.

Este proyecto doctoral, al reconocer la existencia de la dicotomía entre el conocimiento teológico y la madurez espiritual en las instituciones teológicas, planteó la siguiente pregunta de investigación: ¿Qué factores pudieran contribuir a la integración entre el conocimiento teológico y la madurez espiritual en la vida de la facultad de instituciones teológicas? Para responder, se propusieron tres hipótesis acerca de los factores que contribuyen a la integración: (1) el primer factor es que las instituciones teológicas tengan como uno de sus valores institucionales la integración entre el conocimiento teológico y la madurez spiritual dentro de su facultad (2) el segundo factor es que las instituciones teológicas establezcan normas de que sus docentes sean modelo de vida íntegra al Señor (3) y el tercer factor es que las instituciones promuevan que los docentes tengan un mentor espiritual a quien le rindan cuentas

El resultado final de la investigación, el cual se obtuvo por medio de entrevistas fue el adecuado para comprobar la validez de las tres hipótesis.

The effects of big picture presentations of the biblical story on the missional orientation of church goers

Author
Kyungsoo Kim
Abstract
Nearly a half-century of Christian scholarship points to the ongoing issue of missional deficiency within the Church, a pressing concern that coincides with Christianity’s observed decline in the West. Research on the subject indicates a widespread de-emphasis on God’s mission within Christian institutions, from churches great and small to the seminaries that train their leaders. This consequentially obstructs the missional development of individual believers, the true units of the Body of Christ, who were sent by Christ to carry out God’s mission and advance God’s Kingdom not only overseas, but in their local communities. Given this stagnant and self-defeating state of the Western Church, a remedy that restores the Church through breakthrough missional growth must be found. For this study, a cross-disciplinary methodology was constructed from the substance of scripture, the unifying lens of biblical theology, and relevant social scientific models specifically concerned with the idea adoption process and the effectiveness of training practices. The research conducted reveals that yes, a focused missional message with a unifying emphasis on scripture can observably improve the missional orientation of believers, realigning them with God’s mission in their daily lives. The implications and applications of the results are significant, showing that all test group participants improved significantly in their missional knowledge and missional postures/attitudes after receiving the big picture message. There were also significant indications that participants were forming missional intentions/decisions that could inform future implementation of missional behaviors for the advancement of God’s Kingdom. This study provides ample evidence that the key to developing the missional orientation and awareness of churchgoers is a big picture approach to the biblical story, which traces the origins and trajectory of God’s mission from the days of Moses to the end of days.

The road less traveled : pilgrimage and spiritual formation among younger Christians

Author
Nick J. Works
Abstract
"For hundreds of years pilgrimages were a vibrant expression of Christian spirituality. Following the Protestant Reformation pilgrimage as a spiritual discipline began to cease among protestants. In the last 50 years pilgrimage has made a cultural and religious resurgence in American life both religious and secular. At the same time younger Christians began to disconnect from the church in larger and larger numbers. These younger Christians became more mobile and travel much more often than older Christians. Pilgrimage as a spiritual discipline may be a spiritual practice that was attractive to younger Christians under the age of 40 that allowed them to practice their faith and remain engaged in their faith community. This study examined the religious travel practices of one United Methodist congregation to determine if younger Christians found pilgrimage practices as a suitable spiritual discipline." -- Leaf [2].

ArtReach : a creative spiritual exploration for queer Christians

Author
Mark E. Parsons II
Abstract
"For decades, the church has debated the issue of homosexuality. While the "who's in and who's out" battles continue, queer Christians find themselves with few resources that address their unique spiritual experiences. The author argues that through creativity, queer Christians can know and experience God and self more profoundly. After exploring the spiritual abuse of queer Christians, the significance of coming out, and the need for a queer Christian spirituality, the paper discusses the development, implementation, and evaluation of ArtReach, a four-week creative spiritual exploration for queer Christians that moves the conversation from apologetics to celebrating spirituality and sexuality." -- Leaf [2].

Silence and solitude : being fully present to god, self, and others in a distracted world

Author
Gregory S. McVey
Abstract
"With relentless distraction and preoccupation, the current cultural environment suffers from a certain kind of attention deficit disorder in which individuals are rarely "all there." People often find themselves going in a hundred directions. Without the ability for sustained focus, they struggle to remain fully present to the things that matter most. This loss of attentiveness can result in a devastating loss of connectedness (i.e., being fully present) to what God is doing, to the condition of one's self, and to how we are connected to others. To test this hypothesis, silence is introduced using disciplines such as solitude, meditation, and spiritual journaling. To fulfill the goal of the project, Soldiers and Civilians from the United States Army Cyber Command and United States Army Chaplain School and Center completed a seven-day devotional (including fasting from social media). Also, surveys and personal interviews were conducted to gain feedback. The project concludes the practice of silence, solitude, journaling, and fasting from social media does bring about an increase in spiritual growth and connectedness." -- Leaf [2].
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