Urban Churches

Preaching Stewardship to Encourage Growth in Missional Outreach in a Small Urban Church

Author
Jeryl Salmond
Abstract
Like so many other congregations, small churches are suffering from declining membership, and many have closed their doors. This decline has caused many pastors to be concerned about their ability to survive. As a consequence, churches have focused on survival tactics which result in an inward focused church in order to safeguard their limited resources. This inward focus minimizes missional ministry and ignores the pain and brokenness of people in the community that surrounds the church. This issue is particularly impactful in the urban context, where social challenges are prevalent and evidenced by the visible amount of homelessness, hunger, and poverty in the community. This thesis investigates the utilization of preaching stewardship to encourage growth in missional outreach in a small urban church. The preacher must be intentional about developing and delivering sermons that demonstrate the symmetry between stewardship and outreach ministry. This project focused on a small urban church and seeks to demonstrate that preaching stewardship is influential in encouraging growth in missional outreach to offset the needs of the community beyond the church.

Bicultural liberative education : educating the non-poor in an urban work-study program

Author
George D Beukema
Abstract
Bicultural Liberative Education (BLE), developed primarily for college students in an urban work-study program, seeks to empower the non-poor to liberate themselves from the ways their culture is oppressive both to them and the poor.

Chapter One presents a description of, and a biblical foundation for, liberative education of which BLE is a part.

Chapter Two provides a description of the development of BLE and its pedagogical components: 1) "cultural awakening" which "conscientizes" the learners to their "myths" concerning the poor, ideologies, and worldview through engaging the culture of the poor, 2) "reflexive examination" which examines their "myths," ideologies, and worldview through engaging the culture of the non-poor, and 3) "bicultural reconstruction" which facilitates a response to more just ways of living. These components are rendered most effective as the educator creates a trusting atmosphere of "safe containment" which enables the learner to engage more deeply in cultural critique.

Chapter Three describes how an "experiential" seminar with the urban poor and a course on modern work combine to provide a specific context for BLE within a work-study program in Chicago.

Chapter Four concludes the project by providing suggestive hints toward applications of BLE for the non-poor congregation, the seminary, and the poor congregation.

The servant's community : a study of the development of a servant style ministry in the inner city

Author
George G. Beukema
Abstract
The purpose of the project was to research, report, and evaluate a new low-cost, shared leadership, servant style ministry that has been developed on the west side of Grand Rapids, Michigan. The project report describes the historical and sociological context for the ministry, defines the biblical concept of "servanthood" and its theological implications for ministry, assesses the needs and resources of the target community, and evaluates the ministry to date as to its feasibility of application to other urban areas.
The project described in this paper is limited to the John Ball Park area on the near west side of Grand Rapids, Michigan. The emerging inner city congregation, the Servant's Community, provides the congregational context. The biblical theme of servanthood provides the focal point for mission strategy and reflective analysis.

A tale of two cities divided : in search of radical reconciliation

Author
Dan J Smith
Abstract
In my thesis I begin by exploring the histories of Benton Harbor and St. Joseph. These histories show the development of the cities and how their histories have played a big part in shaping how things are today. After probing the history of the area I take a theological and exegetical look at the idea of reconciliation, as engaged in the Bible and the work of practitioners and scholars. The thesis then focuses on interviews I conducted, using the research method of Narrative Inquiry, with people that live in the communities of Benton Harbor and St. Joseph, and, more specifically, people from Union Memorial African Methodist Episcopal Church and Zion Evangelical United Church of Christ. Using these two congregations as a baseline for study, I interviewed a cross-section of both churches. The Narrative Inquiry approach helped me to identify similarities that existed between the two congregations. After the interviews were concluded they were analyzed and then presented to the participants from the two congregations for review. As I engaged the participants in this time of reflection I explored how future conversations or collaboration in the area of reconciliation might be beneficial to all parties concerned. I believe relationships were established through this project and that this was a measurable response in my thesis. By this measure, my project was very successful. Before this project I had little to no contact with my neighbors. Now I have a place to start and build upon as I look to the future of St. Joseph and Benton Harbor with a great deal of hope and passion. My final chapter is a retelling of the story of the tensions between the two cities in light of what I learned throughout the project and an anticipation of what steps we might take towards reconciliation.

There is life after death : using Christ's call to sacrificial living as a foundation for church turn-arounds in urban settings

Author
Jevon A. Caldwell-Gross
Abstract
"This project is a response to the rapid decline found within today's churches. A sizable percentage of the United Methodist Churches (UMC) within the Greater New Jersey Conference (GNJC) are steep in decline; and St. Mark's United Methodist Church in Montclair, New Jersey faced a similar struggle. The approach to this project was to use Christ 's example of sacrificial love as a model of how a congregation can organize her people, procedures, and programs to fully live out her mission in a rapidly changing culture. An ongoing assessment tool was created to assist St. Mark's United Methodist Church and others to determine what aspects of the church's ministry should be ended and allowed to expire. This assessment tool was administered during a one-day seminar with three different congregations. The researcher of this project held phone interviews with each pastor after a three-month period to gauge the effects of their commitment to letting go of certain aspects of their ministry." -- Leaf [2].

Training and Equipping the Urban Church for Missional Engagement Utilizing Fivefold Ministry Gift Curriculum

Author
Gregory Emmett Bell Sr
Abstract
Philadelphia urban church members may not be receiving adequate training on how to participate in the mission of God. According to secular and Christian research, church attendance is declining along with adherence to the teaching and application of Scripture. Statistical analysis of both Christian and secular research, demographic, and crime data confirm the researcher’s hypothesis that the urban churches of Philadelphia need a curriculum for missional engagement. Model Studies of two other ministry schools were also conducted and critiqued to glean from each institution’s experience. The research, literature review, and model studies were used to determine the best approach to perhaps produce supernatural results in the community. This applied research project examines the impact of a missional engagement curriculum designed for laypersons within a Philadelphia urban church, on the fivefold ministry gifts, also referred to by the writer as the five apportioned gifts of Christ. Scripture and other Christian literature were carefully examined to ensure understanding and acceptance of the gifts for today in the body of Christ. The students were taught how to function in their gift as part of a fivefold gift ministry team and complete a ministry project at the end of the semester.

Healing the people, healing the land : developing a vision for a High Street Monastery in St. Patrick's Church of Ireland, Coleraine

Author
Roger Cooke
Abstract
This paper seeks to address the issue of conflict transformation by offering a credible process for healing the wounded history of both a congregation, and the land it occupies, through the development of a well-defined process of reconciliation and the implementation of a Christian Day of Atonement. Having addressed the issue of ‘healing the people and healing the land’, the author goes on to tentatively outline a vision for the development of a High Street Monastery - a place of prayer, worship and radical community engagement - within the ancient Church of Ireland parish of St. Patrick’s, Coleraine.

[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.]

Integrating spirituality and health in an urban setting

Author
William E. Coleman Jr.
Abstract
This project is a collection of writings and discussions by Biblical scholars, scriptural support, testimonies and practices that develop a blueprint for integrating spirituality, religion and health; and can be a tool for other churches to use when starting and sustaining a health and wholeness ministry as a way for both sanctification and community outreach. It is a redirecting of the course Jesus declared for the continuous journey of faith, health and community. This author shares journals written about the lack of trust the African American culture had about doctors and hospitals dating back to slavery.

[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.]

A PILOT PROGRAM OF SERMON-BASED COMMUNITY GROUPS FOR INTER-CITY BAPTIST CHURCH

Author
Daniel Winnberg D.Min.
Abstract
This project was a pilot program for adults to engage in sermon-based community groups. The goal of the project was not to define a long-term plan, but rather learn lessons for a potential future implementation of sermon-based community groups incorporated as a part of the shepherding strategy for the pastoral staff of Inter-City Baptist Church in Allen Park, Michigan.

The genesis of the project began at The Church of the Open Bible in Burlington, Massachusetts, where I served as pastor along with fellow elders. We discussed different strategies to aid us in shepherding the believers in God in our assembly, including practical steps to disciple one another. After a few small-group book studies and trial sermon-based groups were completed, it was decided to pursue a pilot program for sermon-based community groups. After having resigned as pastor there, I was afforded the opportunity to complete the project at Inter-City Baptist Church, where I served previously on pastoral staff. The project was completed with three groups: one that met on Sunday evening, a men's only group on Monday morning, and a third on Wednesday evening.

This project surveyed some biblical theological principles as a basis for sermon-based community groups. The project also surveyed some current key literature on the topic of small groups in general and sermon-based groups in particular.

The project concluded with an evaluation meeting with the pastoral staff. A good discussion took place on how the pilot program was executed, evaluation of the benefits of such a program, and a few options to be evaluated for potential future implementation in the life of the church.

Developing a strategy to transition Hopewell Baptist Church, Gainesville, Georgia, to a multicampus approach

Author
Ronald Scott Harris
Abstract
The purpose of the project was to develop a strategy to transition Hopewell Baptist church, Gainesville, Georgia, to a multicampus approach. At the present time, Hopewell is a land locked, large church meeting on one campus in an older part of Gainesville, Georgia. The vision of the project director is that this large church will embrace this strategy in order to reach more people in the growing community with the gospel of Jesus Christ.

The project director carried this project out in four steps. Step one was to explore the demographics of a five, ten, and twenty-mile radius of the church's current location. Step two was to explore existing multicampus models in order to obtain best practices. The third step was to develop a strategy for Hopewell Baptist Church, Gainesville, Georgia, to employ a multicampus approach. The final step was to present the strategy to the leadership team of Hopewell Baptist Church for approval.
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