Theology, Practical

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.

An Evaluation of Arab Evangelistic Efforts of Jewish People in Israel

Author
Moshe Loewenthal D.Min.
Abstract
This applied research project aimed to evaluate the reasons why the Arab Christian body of believers in Israel does not evangelize Israeli Jews. This research consisted of three parts: (1) Clarification of theological views that hinder Jewish evangelism; (2) Surveys to detect the reasons why evangelism is not done; (3) Interviews with Arab leaders and one messianic pastor to gain their perspective on the reasons why Arab brothers and sisters are not evangelizing to the Jews.

This project had three hypotheses:

• There is a lack of Jewish Evangelism from the Arab Christians toward the Jewish people in Israel because of the difference in culture and politics.
• There is a lack of Jewish Evangelism from the Arab Christians toward the Jewish people in Israel because of a lack of knowledge in how to do it.
• There is a lack of evangelism from the Arab Christians toward the Jewish people in Israel because of their belief in replacement theology.

The first two surveys were given to Arab Christian leaders and believers of churches from Israel. The surveys focused on their spiritual life, politics, the land of Israel, and Zionism. They ended with asking about their engagement in Jewish evangelism. I hoped to discover whether Jewish evangelism exists and if not, why.

The surveys and interviews of the Arab leaders and pastors in Israel evaluated whether the hypotheses were correct and helped discover the next steps for change regarding Jewish evangelism from our Arab brothers and sisters in Israel. The surveys and interviews supported my hypotheses. Other issues that might hinder Arabs from sharing the gospel with Jews in Israel were found as well. These issues might become the foundation for other research projects.

KINDLING DELIGHT IN GOD: MINISTERING TO THE SPIRITUAL AFFECTIONS IN A SMALL RURAL CHURCH

Author
Nathan Edwards D.Min.
Abstract
The purpose of this project was to discover effective ministry methods for cooperating with the work of the Holy Spirit in the lives of followers of Jesus to nurture stronger affections of love, delight, and desire for God.

The author built the theological basis of the project from both Old Testament and New Testament passages that describe the role of affections such as love, delight, and desire, as well as anger and sadness in the lives of God’s people.

Jonathan Edwards, especially the Religious Affections, was part of the key literature the author drew from, looking also at a brief theological history around the theme of affections leading up to Edwards, with special attention on the Puritans. The author considered more recent spiritual formation literature regarding affections and spiritual disciples that nurture them in light of Edwards’s legacy.

The author conducted field research with ten participants around a series of eight meetings, utilizing a combination of biblically-based teaching curriculum and practical experiences of spiritual disciplines. Some adjustments were made for the COVID-19 health crisis.

The author identified meditating on God’s creation and candid spiritual conversations between followers of Jesus as the two most consistently effective disciplines for nurturing spiritual affections. Fasting also had a notable impact, especially associated with protracted time focused exclusively on God. The responses to biblical meditation, including scripture memorization and lectio divina, had a mixed reception from different participants. Participant responses highlight the importance of building the believer’s affection for God on God’s love for the believer and of finding expressions of adoration appropriate to the believer. The author concluded with some suggestions for implementing spiritual disciplines in the author’s congregation.

Prophetic Preaching in the Face of Socioeconomic Crisis as a Justice Instrument in Favor of Women in Puerto Rico

Author
Enid Medina Torres D.Min.
Abstract
La Predicación Profética ante la Crisis Socioeconómica como Instrumento de Justicia para la Mujer en Puerto Rico

This paper presents research on how prophetic preaching can become a justice instrument in favor of women in Puerto Rico facing a significant socioeconomic crisis, with the purpose of it to lead social transformation and liberate women. God has called the Church to raise its voice for all those oppressed by power structures. particularly women, who I consider are the most oppressed. This project can become a significant contribution to prophetic preaching, as it convenes the Church to raise its voice against systemic oppression. Prophetic preaching is presented as an effective tool for a better Puerto Rico here and now. It is by means of prophetic preaching that the Church can become an active agent in fulfilling God’s mission and bringing about His kingdom.
This research followed a qualitative approach, using individual interviews with open-ended questions, as well as a four-sermon series. Six people from the local church participated as part of a focus group who supported the sermon preparation as well as their assessment. Results in this research showed inductive sermonary structures contribute to the process of Church members to not only recognize socioeconomic problems women face on a daily basis, but also to also feel compelled to work against them, guiding them to present concrete ideas in favor of socioeconomic justice for women.


Video Church: The Effects of the Video Church Model on Christian Hospitality

Author
Assad Mohammed Saif D.Min.
Abstract
Hospitality is fundamental to human spiritual growth. Jesus knew this. Therefore, Jesus spent much time seeking to encounter people in the spaces they naturally congregated in. God sent Jesus to come from heaven to earth to show people the incarnate God and his desire to welcome them into his family. More specifically, God sent Jesus to a specific culture in the world where he believed the message of God’s love could be viewed through the lens of hospitality. By using a grounded theory approach, the researcher set out to discover the methods by which hospitality is impacted within the video church model of Sunday morning church worship services. The researcher identified 12 key hospitable qualities necessary for the development of a culture of hospitality in church services. The researcher identified seven principles of healthy hospitality and seven considerations toward sustaining healthy hospitality within the video venue church. The researcher identified how human spirituality benefits from acts of hospitality by specifically studying the parable of the Prodigal Son in Luke 15 and the parable of the Good Samaritan in Luke 10. The researcher identified and analyzed data gathered from interviews with Senior church leaders, volunteers in video churches and small group leaders who attend video church services. This data was collected in order to help the researcher discover the effect of hospitality and how the lack thereof affects spiritual growth in the video church model. The researcher identified both the key qualities of hospitality which contribute toward healthy spiritual growth in video church services and the types of video church services that help to produce these qualities in Christ followers.

A Qualitative Analysis of Church Leadership Conflicts in Evangelical Churches in Northern Nigeria With a View to Building a Better Transformational Leadership Model

Author
Timothy Danladi Nwan D.Min.
Abstract
The project addresses leadership conflicts among church leaders in evangelical churches in Nigeria with the view toward building a better transformational leadership model. To address these conflicts the project centered upon transformational leadership phenomena, showing that a leadership development training program model for the future leaders must be seen as a priority in all the evangelical churches in Northern Nigeria. Such a model would be based on the researcher’s qualitative research study, which used thirty-six participants from evangelical church denominations as a case study. The study included both interviews and fieldwork-based research, in which the case studies of church leaders were analyzed to understand their perspectives on their leaders, as well as their impact on the community of faith and the culture from a biblical perspective. The project intends to motivate church leaders to learn to respond effectively to conflict resolution in their ministries. The researcher will use this model approach to better equip and organize seminars and workshops for church leaders and other emerging leaders through the researcher’s non-profit organization, the Leadership Training Center (LTC), in Northern Nigeria

The Art of "Naming Grace." Nurturing everyday mysticism in the life of the contemporary Christian.

Author
Gerardine Ann Doherty Sr D.Min.
Abstract
Is the Holy Spirit alive among God’s people today? Does the Catholic Church recognize the potential of such a reality? Do ministers nurture, encourage, uphold this gift of God’s extravagance ~ grace operative and dynamic in each member?
The core of this thesis-project explores the ‘instinctive hunch’ that God’s Spirit is present and moving among God’s people, be it often yearning recognition, deliverance and liberation. The potential for all the baptized to fully embrace their already-God-given giftedness, is something not yet fully conceived.
By briefly presenting the experience of mysticism through historical interpretation, acknowledging contemporary spiritual authors and gathering current spiritual experience of ‘ordinary’ people, the stage is set to introduce Karl Rahner’s notion of everyday mysticism. Then, convinced of the extravagance of God, a final question is surveyed: Should existing theological, spiritual and psychological ministerial assumptions be challenged, in order for the fullness of Vatican II’s “universal call to holiness” to be a reality?

The Art of "Naming Grace." Nurturing everyday mysticism in the life of the contemporary Christian.

Author
Gerardine Ann Doherty Sr M.A.
Abstract
Is the Holy Spirit alive among God’s people today? Does the Catholic Church recognize the potential of such a reality? Do ministers nurture, encourage, uphold this gift of God’s extravagance ~ grace operative and dynamic in each member?
The core of this thesis-project explores the ‘instinctive hunch’ that God’s Spirit is present and moving among God’s people, be it often yearning recognition, deliverance and liberation. The potential for all the baptized to fully embrace their already-God-given giftedness, is something not yet fully conceived.
By briefly presenting the experience of mysticism through historical interpretation, acknowledging contemporary spiritual authors and gathering current spiritual experience of ‘ordinary’ people, the stage is set to introduce Karl Rahner’s notion of everyday mysticism. Then, convinced of the extravagance of God, a final question is surveyed: Should existing theological, spiritual and psychological ministerial assumptions be challenged, in order for the fullness of Vatican II’s “universal call to holiness” to be a reality?

HOLY LISTENING: CREATING NEW PRACTICES OF MISSION BY EXTENDING PASTORAL CARE BEYOND THE WALLS OF THE CHURCH

Author
Caitlin Thomas Deyerle D.Min.
Abstract
With a goal of developing a new practice of mission to address the disconnect between a congregation and its surrounding community and engage the historical and ongoing limitations of mission practices, this project sought to engage the skills of pastoral care to create a relational focused practice of holy listening. A five-week Lenten Listening program was developed to cultivate this practice and use it to create a deeper partnership with local educators. The evaluation methods used were a survey of the congregational participants before and after the program, and in-person interviews with the educators following the program. The project addresses racial and socioeconomic differences between church and community as a primary barrier to mission partnership.

A Biblical Examination of an Ontological reading of Theology, in Trinity, in the [Christian] Believer and in Church

Author
Erwin Samuel Henderson Dr Ph.D.
Abstract
Ontological theology considered in some theological works, was given little significance as a primary theme. The thesis attempts to restore prominence and cohesion of an ontological construct, whereby function and structure, are the subordinate product defined by the ontological theological perspective. The effects are far reaching for theological definitions of the essential nature of the Trinity, the believer and the church; representing a paradigmatic shift in theological understanding, affecting profoundly the nature existential Christocentric Christianity.
The ontological theology of Trinity contrasts with the relational subordination, authority-submission proponents and opponents, in substance, in relationship and in function. The recovery of apostolicity as an ontological attribute of Godhead provides significant insight and cohesion to the ontological Trinitarian proposal.
The effects upon the believer ontologically are contrasted with the religious disposition and the positional judicial approach to salvation. The prototypical shift occurs in the Person of Jesus-Christ to an existential reality originated in Trinity and replicated ontologically in the believer. The nature of humankind is thereby reinterpreted giving definition to the “spiritual man” as the sole form of legitimate existence that is biblically normalized and warranted.
The ontological primacy provides an alternate construct to the historical structural understanding of church that has not changed since the early patristic period. The proposal emerging from this exegesis is a model of church: ontological and apostolic, originated, [re]sourced, and incarnate from the nature of Trinity, demonstrating undeniably that it is impossible for the Church of divine intent to exist outside of the three persons of the Godhead. Christo-centricity restores Church to the origin, source and 'telos'. Present day observations may exemplify distanciation of contemporary expressions of church from ontological definitions. A return to source represents a theological and ecclesiastic field of renewal to perpetuate in the coming years.
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