Spiritual life

Rediscovering lament : a five week study to help recover a lost practice of the faith

Author
Mark N. J. Charles
Abstract
Knowledge and understanding of biblical lament has been all but lost in the 21st century western church. This loss is a costly one. What kind of engagement with sermons, liturgies, and bible study will help 21st century western Christians recover this lost practice? In this project, the author outlines a five week study experience designed to introduce participants to lament, and help them experience it using bible study, responsive prayer, bibliodrama, and song. Participants from five churches took part in the program. Their responses suggest that rediscovering lament is both possible and needed.

[Note about entry: Abstract submitted to the Atla RIM database on behalf of the author. The text appears in its entirety as it does in the original abstract page of the author’s project paper. Neither words nor content have been edited.]

"Sing, O Barren One" : writing hymns to transform and to be transformed

Author
Lindsay Louise Biddle
Abstract
Biblical and spiritual ancestors dialogued with the Divine in order to come to terms with reallife circumstances. In a church in Glasgow, Scotland, the author-pastor encouraged worshippers each week for three months to record their personal well-being, reflect on scripture, and use parts of worship based on the reflections. Their situations dramatically transformed, and they experienced transformation, not so much as a direct result of this project, but rather, this experiment of writing hymns that illuminate or dialogue with scripture gave them time and space to express, listen, respond, and realize the transformation happening in and around them.

[Note about entry: Abstract submitted to the Atla RIM database on behalf of the author. The text appears in its entirety as it does in the original abstract page of the author’s project paper. Neither words nor content have been edited.]

Co-creators with God : enhancing spirituality through visual art

Author
Mark L. Barden
Abstract
The visual arts are instrumental in enriching Christian spirituality. This project engaged participants through videos, discussions, devotions, presentations, experiential activities and a field trip, to enable them to embrace visual arts to deepen their spirituality. The author designed and implemented a multi-week course, including a video series, for participants to explore the connection between their spirituality and the visual arts. The results indicated a positive impact prompting changes for growth by each participant in utilizing the visual arts as a spiritual discipline.

[Note about entry: Abstract submitted to the Atla RIM database on behalf of the author. The text appears in its entirety as it does in the original abstract page of the author’s project paper. Neither words nor content have been edited.]

The Mid-Faith Crisis: Introducing Evangelicals to the Dark Night of the Soul

Author
Thomas Sweeney M.A.
Abstract
The mid-faith crisis is a qualitative shift in our faith experience as God weans us of the spiritual delights lavished upon us in the initial stages of faith and leads us on an inner journey of awareness, repentance, and surrender. This typically occurs in middle age and often in the midst of successful ministry, so it is often misdiagnosed as falling away from faith rather than progressing in faith. Such strong medicine is necessary because it addresses a serious affliction: the false self which has smuggled itself unseen into the Christian life and forms the great obstacle between us and God as well as us and those around us. Through the mid-faith crisis, God invites us to lay aside the false self and its tools for navigating life, accept who we really are, and to grow ever more into our identity as the beloved of the Father. While the mid-faith crisis is divinely initiated and sustained, there is room for human participation in the work.
This research portfolio explores the author’s own mid-faith crisis, proposes a model for the phenomenon and reports the results of an action research project to develop and deliver a curriculum that introduces conservative Evangelicals to the mid-faith crisis. It concludes by identifying further potential development of the model and the curriculum.

Developing a Strategy of Spiritual Enhancement for Mt. Olive Baptist Church, Guy, Arkansas

Author
Timothy R Brewer
Abstract
The purpose of this project was to develop a strategy to enhance the spiritual health of Mt. Olive Baptist Church of Guy, Arkansas (MOBC). The project director explored the demographics of Guy, Arkansas, and the surrounding communities; analyzed the historical profile of MOBC; proposed a working definition of "spiritual health" by exploring existing models of spiritual health enhancement; developed a spiritual health enhancement strategy for MOBC; and presented the strategy to MOBC. The project director utilized a strategy model for this project.

The strategy was completed by meeting four goals for this project. The project director (1) explored the demographics surrounding MOBC, (2) examined existing models of spiritual health enhancement, (3) led a team in developing a spiritual health enhancement strategy for MOBC, and (4) presented the spiritual health enhancement strategy model to the congregation of MOBC for approval and endorsement.

The Fear of the Lord: Its Meaning and Use as a Motivation for Christian Living

Author
Bradley R. Sickler D.Min.
Abstract
The fear of the Lord is a multifaceted concept. Rather than trying to narrow down the definition to one concept, this study defines the concept in terms of four broad vantage points: first, the fear of the Lord as an emotional experience with the living God; second, the fear of the Lord as an objective truth which can be taught to people; third, the fear of the Lord as a motive for behavior; and finally, the fear of the Lord in relation to the love of God. The study was motivated by a realization that it was rarely specified as a motive in Christian decision-making or Christian behavior among the congregation. To address this problem and pastorally respond to it, this study makes use of the discipline of biblical theology, tracing the theme of the fear of the Lord and its development from Genesis to Revelation (chapter 2). Four main concepts pertinent to understanding the fear of the Lord are then examined from the perspective of systematic theology (chapter 3), in order to define the meaning and purpose of the fear of the Lord from both a biblical and systematic perceptive [sic]. In order to help the congregation understand and live in the fear of the Lord, an assessment of what the congregation currently believes about the fear of the Lord is also needed. Chapter 4 presents the results of field research undertaken to assess these belief’s utilizing ‘Q methodology,’ a research technique that allows the researcher to conduct a qualitative study using quantitative methods. Chapter 5 concludes with a summary of the results of this study and offers reflections on how to move forward in light of those results, as well as a discussion of ways in which the field research might be improved.

Chaplain Spiritual Assessment and Its Efficacy for the Palliative Care Team at Roper St. Francis Healthcare: An Interdisciplinary-Phenomenologic Inquiry

Author
Yhanco Monet
Abstract
A qualitative phenomenological research methodology was designed and implemented to answer the question: what is it that chaplains assessed which is perceived as useful for the Roper St. Francis Palliative Care team? Twelve Palliative Care practitioners, representing diverse specialties, were interviewed and surveyed to answer the research question. Evidence suggested that spiritual care and chaplaincy assessments were perceived as relevant to the Roper St. Francis’ Palliative Care praxis. However, the gathered data indicates that chaplains and Palliative Care practitioners would benefit from a more standardized/consistent spiritual assessment practice. A set of “Teaching Guidelines” and educational “Activities” was created with the goal of training chaplains in the art of doing Palliative Care spiritual assessments based on the research findings. A certified ACPE supervisor was interviewed about the viability and appropriateness of these “Teaching Guidelines” and “Activities.” This professional educator enriched the educative proposal and validated its potential to train staff chaplains as Palliative Care practitioners.

Educating Calvary Baptist Church, Asheville, NC, on the Value of Following the Christian Year as a Means for Spiritual Renewal Through Worship

Author
Jeffrey C. Hayes
Abstract
This project introduced the spiritual value of following the Christian year in worship. Through a series of sermons and study lessons that focused on eight major seasons (Advent, Christmas, Epiphany, Lent, Holy Week, Easter, Pentecost, and Ordinary Time), participants were exposed to the history and spiritual purpose of each, respectively. Two surveys were administered, along with weekly evaluations, and interviews, to measure the project’s effectiveness. The desired outcome was a greater degree of knowledge and interest in worshipping through the Christian year. According to the final analysis, increased understanding, spiritual growth, and desire to worship through the Christian year did occur.

Meditation and Contemplation: Framework for a Coping Mechanism Among Small Groups at the Mount Moriah Baptist Church in Spartanburg, South Carolina

Author
Gary W. Jordan
Abstract
“Don’t say God is silent if your Bible is closed.” - Church Sign This project aimed to encourage and enable a small group class at Mount Moriah Baptist Church to adopt meditative and contemplative prayer as a framework for a coping mechanism. In practicing this type of prayer life, participants anticipated to receive the benefit of being better able to cope with stressors of life. Utilizing a small group study, Lectio Divina, biblical examples, breathing techniques and various surveys, participants were enabled to experience a deeper interaction with Scripture, aided by the ministry of the Holy Spirit, to hear God speaking to them and transforming their lives to the image of Christ.

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.
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