Theology, Practical

Embodying the gospel we proclaim: the spiritual formation of lay ecclesial ministers

Author
Joanne M Cahoon
Abstract
Lay ecclesial ministers in the U.S. are a relatively new form of ministerial leadership within the community of disciples, whose persons and ministry support or contradict the message of the Gospel. This thesis contributes to the integrated ministerial formation of these ministers, called forth by the Spirit. It employs practical theology methodology to arrive at foundational principles and guiding insights for the spiritual formation of lay ministers. Pastoral implications arise from a "dialogue danced" between three partners: the experiences and insights of grounded lay ecclesial ministers with significant years of service, the U.S. cultural context, and the Catholic tradition.

The role of cell group community in reinforcing preaching

Author
R Timothy Leever
Abstract
This thesis is a research project that attempts to show how cell groups, as defined in Acts 2:42-47, may be used in reinforcing preaching. Within the cell group there is the community of Christ. It is within this non-threatening, Christ centered fellowship that people may learn how preached biblical truths impact their lives in practical everyday living. The result of this project showed an increase in the participants knowledge of Scripture as well as a tangible lifestyle change. The participants exhibited a desire to live Christ-like lives.

Toward culturally aware ministry: a foundation for ministry in Roman Catholic faith communities with Mexican American young adults

Author
William E Zimmer
Abstract
The author's thesis: (a) Thomas Groome's model of practical theology leads to excellence in pastoral ministry; (b) Conversion is the overarching goal of pastoral ministry; (b) Being knowledgeable about each culture in the community is necessary for culturally informed ministry. Being bilingual is not sufficient. Thus a method for culturally informed ministry is presented: (1) Awareness of the fundamental importance of culture for pastoral ministry; (2) Knowledge of one's own culture and the other culture(s); (3) Cross cultural ministerial skills. Groome's model was applied to ministry in Mexican American faith communities. Recommendations for renewed ministry to those communities resulted.

Grace works: a study of the effect of the application of "grace principles" in the pastoral leadership of a small church

Author
Gary David Waguespack
Abstract
Can grace be an effective method of administration in the pastoral leadership of a small church? The author of this dissertation believes it can and has used a qualitative research design that included pastoral and congregational interviews as well as Christian and secular literature to support his assertion that congregations must have pastoral leadership committed to grace principles to be biblically successful. This leadership must recognize the ongoing problem of legalism and fully accept the idea that grace requires a clear, determined and persistent application to be effective and enable his congregation to be strong and healthy.

The senior pastor/executive pastor team: contemporary paradigm for the larger church staff

Author
John T Hawco
Abstract
The emergence of the executive pastor (EP) as an accepted member of the pastoral staff in larger churches has only recently been the subject of formal study. Previously, EPs were informed about their roles through networking. Though deployed in churches for over 20 years, many EPs forged their own job-descriptions and not all EPs share the same titles or tasks. The essence of the role is lifting the administrative burden from the senior pastor (SP). Recent studies have explored the value of utilizing EPs to implement the church's vision, as well as the competencies needed to do so. Though some EPs recognize a transitory dimension to their role there are common principles and experiences for most EPs. This study looks into contextual and relational factors affecting the senior pastor/executive pastor team paradigm. EP focus groups and SP phone interviews were utilized as supplemental explorations of themes revealed during initial interaction with knowledgeable informants. The reasons for the creation of the EP position in the participating churches was explored, as well as current staffing arrangements and dynamics. Of particular importance was the creation and maintenance of the primary relationship, that between the EP and the SP. Common practices and attitudes must be in place to make an SPEP team successful and thus beneficial to the church. To understand these factors, helpful principles, stories, proverbs, and analogies were discussed. Also explored were the biblical illustrations and/or theological underpinnings for the use of an SPEP team.

Journey from the margins: toward a spirituality of accompaniment for ministerial leaders in Mindanao context

Author
Francis Efren Zabala
Abstract
Using a nuanced version of James and Evelyn Whitehead's model and method of doing practical theology, this thesis-project proposes elements of a spirituality for ministerial leaders who are or might be involved in the ministry of journeying with marginalized peoples. It addresses the question: what elements of a spirituality of accompaniment can ministers model in seeking to arrest the vicious spiral of marginalization? It hopes to be a resource for pastoral leaders in their quest to be in solidarity with the dispossessed, not only in their struggle for liberation but also in the hope that these unfortunate ones will not themselves evolve into becoming marginalizers of others.

Missionaries, inculturation and social change: a case study from west Africa

Author
Florentine Mallya
Abstract
This thesis-project looks at the question of evangelization and inculturation amid rapid social change in west Africa. It is articulated with conviction that the integration of faith and culture is the way to proceed in such a context. Since this project is built on practical theology, the underlying method employed is praxis-theory-praxis. Ethnographic method of participant observation is utilized not just as an anthropological method but also as a ministerial way of doing theology. Crucial elements of experience, tradition and culture are engaged in an assertive dialogue in order to generate relevant pastoral strategies by way of commendations and recommendations.

Leading from a different place: the formation of a learning community of practice in a denominational headquarters

Author
Lawrence Palmieri Peers
Abstract
This project proposes, organizes, and evaluates a "learning community of practice" in the denominational headquarters of the Unitarian Universalist Association, in order to promote a network for learning, for reflective practice, and for sharing common concerns among staff members. In its formation the community draws on theories of work-based learning and applies a theology of reflective practice.

A proactive strategy for improving the health and ministry effectiveness of Bethany Baptist Church

Author
Gary S Brooks
Abstract
This project proposes and implements a two-year revitalization process for a local Baptist congregation in order to foster renewal and growth. The congregation adopts initiatives designed to strengthen worship, prayer, outreach, assimilation, congregational care, fellowship, serving, finance, missions, and clarity of mission and vision. The project demonstrates that a proactive strategy to renew a congregation can affect attitudes and perceptions of members positively, but improved rates of growth and assimilation are more difficult to attain and require great intentionality on the part of everyone involved. Even if it does not result in newsworthy statistics, such an attempt to renew a congregation is beneficial for pastors and members alike.

Developing and evaluating an adult model of divorce recovery in a congregational setting based on Browning's fundamental practical theology

Author
Robert E Crisp
Abstract
This project proposes a practical theological model of divorce recovery for adults based on the work of Don S Browning, testing and evaluating it in a nine-week intervention program. Using a group support process and a didactic design to alleviate the complex emotional effects of divorce grief, the project improves the self-concept and positive divorce adjustment of participants, while imparting positive divorce theology concepts. Participants divorcing because of a spouse's adultery provide unique responses to the program.
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