Spiritual life


Matthew Bassett Ford D.Min.
A certain kind of habitual interaction the author calls “hermeneutical mediation” is both biblically warranted and effective for cultivating growth in life transformation for the Christian. The author asserts that properly interpreting the Scriptures as well as properly interpreting oneself in light of the Scriptures is paramount for life change. The study especially focused on cultivating this habit among Millennials.

After submitting a questionnaire to the congregation at large and facilitating pre-seminar interviews with a volunteer group of Millennials from the congregation, the author implemented a six-session seminar designed to cultivate “hermeneutical meditation” among the Millennials who volunteered. Post-seminar interviews were then facilitated in order to discern the results of the effort.

The seminar could be improved, but after the implementation and interviews, it is clear that fostering hermeneutical meditation through a seminar format was effective for helping Christians (especially in this case, Millennials) grow in life transformation through their habitual interaction with Scripture.


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.

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

Gary Lenox McKnight D.Min.
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

Ed Johnson III D.Min.
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

Elena Vazquez González D.Min.
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 Development and Evaluation of a Discipleship Program for the Beijing Yizhuang District

Long Cheng D.Ed.Min.
Before Jesus rises to heaven, he said to his disciples: “All authority in heaven and on earth. has been given to me. Therefore, go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely, I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” (Mt 28:18-20) This is Jesus’ final commandment before risen to heaven. Jesus considers this great commandment very important. He expects his disciples to complete this comment faithfully, earnestly, and proactively. This is also the church that his followers gather, who carry forward this mission faithfully.

With many years of observation of church’s growth, I have found that some mega churches have very good church environment, abundant offering in number, but there are very few true disciples who can really live a life like Jesus, who are really willing to follow Jesus. Jesus has said to the fig tree by the roadside “May you never bear fruit again!” (Mt 21:19b) Many churches are like this fig tree with many leaves cover the tree. It looks very good from the outside, but it does not bear fruit. This is what Jesus hates.

With this study, I hope to explore a discipleship training, which will suit church and help disciples grow spiritually under biblical principles. I also hope that this training will help many other churches in the similar background.

Case Study on How Spiritual Maturity Benefits Soldiers While on Overseas Assignments

Joshua A. Cannon D.Ed.Min.
As the United States of America pushes further and further into secularization, the U.S. Army has followed suit. While many see this movement as a step in the right direction, many others do not. It is without doubt the Army has always had its issues with discipline; however, it is the overall epidemic of suicide and other high-risk behaviors that has the attention of the entire nation, forcing many to ask why. While many have accepted the belief or ideology that belief in God is antiquated and irrelevant in today’s modern age, many others are beginning to recognize a rise in high-risk behaviors, especially within those serving overseas. A preliminary look shows that those who devote themselves to their faith appear to benefit in ways that cannot be denied.

This dissertation examines the overall benefits of those soldiers that are spiritually mature and are considered to have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. The author will attempt to take aim to understand and counter the ideology that religion and belief in God is antiquated and irrelevant in today’s society leading to the belief that service members ought to follow suit. While the Army takes great initiative towards the mental and spiritual health of the soldier, it is without a doubt that one area of influence is being forced out. It is the focused approach towards faith in God as a benefit to many areas of a soldier’s life that is forcibly quieted, seen as a personal journey not to be discussed, and irrelevant to the overall force. The purpose of this study will be to examine spiritually mature soldiers and begin to understand the benefits of a deep relationship with God while serving on overseas assignments.

An Exploration of African American Pastors Use of Spiritual Disciplines to Combat Spiritual Burnout

Herman L. Baxter Sr. D.Min.
Leading in ministry can be a challenging job. The struggle to fulfill a divine calling while being human leaves no rest for the weary. African American pastor is no exception. These spiritual leaders often experience spiritual dryness – stress, and burnout - due to excessive demands that may lead to physical, emotional, and spiritual exhaustion. Days run into nights and, as they say in Broadway, “the show must go on” for most pastors every week. Many weary pastors combat spiritual dryness – fatigue, burnout, depression, and more – longing for more “peace that surpasses all understanding.” It is no wonder that some pastors do not remain in the ministry after five years. Trying to minister in this state is not ideal, yet many pastors remain resilient.

Throughout the history of the Christian church, practicing spiritual disciplines have been a means to spiritual renewal. However, across the United States, these practices to combat spiritual dryness are done a little differently in predominately African American led churches.

This study will gather qualitative research through in-depth interviews to discover how seven selected African American senior pastors combat spiritual dryness. The interview questions noted circumstances for times of spiritual dryness, the pastors’ experiences through spiritual dryness, and the process to combat spiritual dryness. This understanding helped these African American pastors overcome spiritual dryness. Interview responses will produce common themes and confirm three significant elements to combating spiritual dryness. First, the participants will identify different spiritual discipline practices for other times of spiritual dryness. Next, they will concur that upholding a robust biblical discipline is needed to prepare for times of spiritual burnout. Finally, participants will verify that a healthy dependence on God is required to maintain spiritual wellness. This project concludes with the participants’ suggestions for how newly assigned Christian leaders can most effectively combat spiritual dryness.


In Gyu Chang
This project is to remind both medicine and Christianity of the urgent need for the reunification of the separated spirituality and medicine in the era of the fourth industrial revolution. This recommendation is based on both scientific research and biblical teachings. Many studies have shown that the majority of patients are suffering from spiritual distress, and this distress is not being properly addressed by medicine or Christianity. According to the scientific studies and the teachings of the Bible, a holistic biopsychosocial spiritual (BPSS) strategy is necessary to best treat patients. There are two approaches to develop a BPSS strategy: (1) short term, which would involve training of all clinicians in addressing spiritual distress, and (2) long term, which would develop pastoral clinicians (PCs) to integrate medicine and spirituality. The latter approach is the focus of my dissertation.

Spiritual Practices in Finding Meaning in Suffering Among Tamil Sri-Lankan Refugees

Stanley Alex Augustine OFMCap D.Min.
Man’s search for meaning is the primary motivation in his life and not a secondary rationalization.”1 This is one of the quotes which well fits into my research. Life is complete with meaning, and seeking meaning should be the primary motivation of everyone. This thesis project is concerned with understanding how Sri-Lankan Tamil refugees find meaning in suffering and might be helped by to find meaning in their suffering through the spiritual practices of pastors. “If there is meaning in life at all, then there must be meaning in suffering.”2 Though there is meaning, the simple people, like refugees, are often unable to find the meaning for their suffering.
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