Theology, Practical

Wise as a serpent: the practical theology of Reinhold Niebuhr

Abstract
In this theses, I argue that the Christian realist theology, purported mainly in the thought of Reinhold Niebuhr, offers the local church and its leadership a sound practical theology that encompasses both the forces of the transcendent and the forces of the finite world as we know it. I, therefore, make it my purpose to engage both the ecclesial moralist and the ecclesial rationalist within the practical theological discipline in order to contribute a pragmatic-liberal practical theology that will help the church to find both meaning and relevance in the twenty-first century.

The promise of community: sharing life together in small groups at Anne Ashley Church

Author
Gregory D Golden
Abstract
This project describes the development of a small group ministry at Anne Ashley Memorial United Methodist Church. The goal of the small group ministry is to provide an intentional setting for members of the congregation to grow spiritually through the experience of koinonia -- authentic Christian community. The project has a four-phase design: 1) a foundation phase for creating a small group ministry plan; 2) a leadership phase for training small group leaders; 3) a practice phase for starting new small groups; and 4) an evaluation phase for assessing the effectiveness of the ministry in the church.

Calvin's Institutes and the shaping of the pastoral mind

Author
Stephen M Wilson
Abstract
This paper reports an in-depth reading of and reflection of John Calvin's Institutes of the Christian religion, a classic exposition of Christian doctrine for training Ministers of Word and Sacrament. The purpose of this project was to engage an important theological text in order to be further formed as a spiritual person and as a pastor. The fundamental premise of this paper was to know God more fully, is to love God more deeply, which results in serving God more faithfully. This project led to personal spiritual growth and to a transformation of the author's practice of ministry.

Stepping into the stream: the spirituality of the service for the Lord's Day in three American Baptist Congregations

Author
David C Oliver-Holder
Abstract
This thesis-project is an investigation of the Sunday worship experiences of members of three American Baptist congregations, focusing on questions of liturgical theology and spirituality. Using the method of practical theology developed by Thomas Groome, the experiences and contexts of the participants are placed in conversation with the liturgical insights of Gordon Lathrop and James William McClendon, Jr., which leads to an invitation to a renewed practice in which worship is understood as an embodied encounter between a holy God, holy people and holy things such that God is glorified and the people are sanctified.

Preferential option for the poor in a first world setting: practical theology in a liberating key

Author
David P Crump
Abstract
In this project the author sets out to develop a "critical practical theology rooted in a radical commitment to the poor." His thesis is that the preferential option for the poor is required of all Christian ministry and theology today, particularly in the "first world." Using ethnographic methods, the research setting is a ministry with homeless men in Chicago. Beginning from this ministry praxis the author moves to consideration of the larger socio-historical context and then to reflection on biblical sources and Christian tradition. Addressing practical considerations for pastoral leaders, the final chapter prepares for the return to praxis.

Characteristics of the catechetical church: stand forth in mighty conflict

Author
Martin S Lucin
Abstract
This study is for those who are involved in or experiencing the effects of church conflict. It offers a new model for diagnosis and treatment using the theological framework of Martin Luther's Small Catechism. A planned questionnaire based on the Ten Commandments is used to collect data for an assessment. A diagnosis is made that identifies problems with potential for resolution. Planned interviews based on the Apostles' Creed are used to establish behavioral goals for a plan. Assigned homework based on the Lord's Prayer is used to coordinate the implementation of the plan. Field testing demonstrates that the model is useful in facilitating the cooperation of two clashing congregations.

Engaging hearts and minds: Ignatian spirituality and students reflecting on service

Author
Robert J Scullin
Abstract
This project explores the reflection activity of students who engage in service during their undergraduate years at Jesuit universities. Descriptive analyses of eleven interviews provide the experience component for the method of practical theology proposed by James and Evelyn Whitehead. The guiding question is "How can the cultures of late Generation X undergraduates, their approaches to reflection, and Ignatian spirituality contribute to transformative reflection on service?" Transformative reflection on service results for the volunteer in a greater sense of mutuality with those being served and an expanded notion of service that includes direct care, social analysis, and social change.

Meaningful membership: intentional membership education for a new millennium

Author
Kevan S Franklin
Abstract
The thesis of this project is that recent cultural changes make new member integration and education a crucial piece of ministry today. This project provides a four-week educational unit for new members designed to achieve three important goals: 1. Clearly articulate four (4) expectations of church membership based on Loren Mead's analysis of the New Testament church: koinonia, kerygma, didache, and diakonia ; 2. Create Christian community; 3. Identify and enlist member's gifts. This project addresses the question: What does it mean to be a member of the church? A study valid for enriching many areas of church life and education.

When one becomes two: words of comfort and hope for those experiencing the pain of separation and divorce

Author
Leigh E Bond
Abstract
Divorce is a problem that affects almost everyone, yet there is still a strong bias in many churches against divorced people. For a problem that is so prevalent, the church has been slow to minister to people who are experiencing the crisis of separation and divorce, especially from the pulpit. The author uses Dr. Andrew Lester's guidelines for pastoral care and preaching along with sociologist Dr. Paul Bohannan's outline of six "stations" of divorce to develop strategies for understanding and preaching about divorce.

Transforming lives through the development of a homeless shelter in Henderson, North Carolina

Author
Jeffrey D Arthurs
Abstract
This project is the story of a community that decided God was calling them to meet the challenge of ministering to the homeless in God's name and to open a homeless shelter. The project write-up includes a practical theological analysis that explores descriptive theology, historical theology, systematic theology and problem intervention. In addition a narrative summary, lessons learned, and an analysis of the project's effect on the author, community, and author's church are provided. Appendices are provided that include a preliminary feasibility study, sample case plans, policies and procedures, and project evaluation tools.
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